This post is part three of a three-part series. You can read part one here and part two here.
Try to boil an ocean and you won’t have enough hot water for tea.
I spent most of my life demonstrating that simple truth, taking on one personal project after another. In October, 2015, I finally grew tired of stoking those metaphorical fires. I doused the flames, buried the embers, and set off on a six-month trek down a quiet stretch of beach.
I grew up along the way. I could finally see the harm I had done in trying to make every little thing part of something bigger. I realized how much we all need quiet and solitude, both around us and within. And I finally realized that, through everything, I had been doing my level best to cheat my way past the natural limits of my mortality.
“Nothing” turned out to be exactly what I needed.
This post is part two of a three-part series. You can read part one here.
In October 2015, after devoting almost forty years to a trove of personal ambitions, I stopped. I picked up an eraser and wiped my slate clean. For the first time in my life, I was officially doing nothing.
This couldn’t last. I waited for the sheer mass of my beloved ideas to draw me back into their orbit. Resisting that pull would exhaust me, I was sure of it. I braced myself for a long night of frustrated temptation and anxiety.
If you’re anything like me, you take on too many projects.
I’ve always done this. And when I say “always”, I’m not only referring to my adult, professional life. Since I was old enough to want to do anything at all, I’ve wanted to do too many things, and I’ve tried to do them all at once:
- Learn to play guitar and start a band.
- Write stories, novels, and screenplays.
- Draw and make animated films.
- Study science and mathematics.
- Become an architect and design buildings.
- Program computers and make video games.
- Get married, raise a family.
You know. Learn Japanese, go live in Japan for a year or so. Climb Mount Fuji.
As a child, I was surrounded by love and encouragement. The adults in my life told me I could do anything I set my mind to, anything I wanted. I took their encouragement literally and without moderation.