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Doing If You Want To‘s

“If you want to be a poet, write poetry. Every day. Show us your work.
If you want to do improv, start a troupe. Don’t wait to get picked.
If you want to help animals, don’t wait for vet school. Volunteer at an animal shelter right now.
If you want to write a screenplay, write a screenplay.
If you want to do marketing, find a good cause and spread the idea. Don’t ask first.
If you’d like to be more strategic or human or caring at your job, don’t wait for the boss to ask.
Once we leave out the “and” (as in, I want to do this and be well paid, invited, approved of and always successful) then it’s way easier to.”
— Seth Godin, Are you doing what you said you wanted to do?

Well, if you want to sing out, sing out
And if you want to be free, be free
‘Cause there’s a million things to be
You know that there are

— Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam), If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out

We complicate things with the stories we tell ourselves. We envision what a writer ought to look like, or an actor or leader or whatever we aspire to be. Instead of just slipping on the role for size and doing it. Just do it, as Nike famously coopted as their slogan. How many do just that? Don’t let it slip away, do some version of it now and grow into the rest.

I write this blog fancying myself a writer. I wear plenty of other hats as well, so I try to write before the world wakes up and tells me I’m supposed to be something else now. Most of the time I give the world what it wants of me, but for a little time every day I simply write. If the posts are late in the day or seem a bit compressed and scattered, it’s usually a sign that I was running late, compressed and scattered myself. But I still put it out there as a humble statement that yes, I do in fact write.

There’s a million things to be, you know that there are, but there’s usually a very short list of things you simply have to be to feel you’re on the right path. Doing those if you want to’s is the only way to feel like the world isn’t passing you by. Most of the universe barely recognizes that Seth Godin or Yusuf Islam put out similar statements, let alone me, but each of us knows that we showed up and shipped the work. We each grow into our identity with the things we do now. Sometimes that’s enough.

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