Films and books urge us to think that there will come certain moments in our lives when, if we can make some grand, once-in-a-lifetime gesture of relinquishment, or of standing up for a certain principle—if we can throw in our job and head off, leave the safe life with a woman that we do not love and, as it were, come out—then we will be liberated, free.
[…] The real requestion, however, is free for what?— Geoff Dyer, Out of Sheer Rage
Within all of us there’s this latent idea of the life we have now, and the life that could be, and all that separates us from it is this dramatic moment, an act of heroism and extraordinary courage. But there’s no such thing.
What is though is the everyday, which is inescapable. But there in the everyday you also find what you thought you’d find if you escaped from it: the wonder, the mystery. If you engage with the everyday as if it was the first day, again and again, you can transform your everyday into that what you think it lacks. It’s within your own hands.
Dyer wrote a couple of paragraphs later: “It actually takes a daily effort to be free. To be free is not the result of a moment’s decisive action but a project to be constantly renewed. More than anything else, freedom requires tenaciousness.” You have to be consistent.
And a bit later he quotes D.H. Lawrence: “Either you go on wheeling a wheelbarrow and lecturing at Cambridge and going softer and softer inside, or you make a hard fight with yourself, pull yourself up, harden yourself, throw your feelings down the drain and face the world as a fighter.”
The big change of your life is in your daily prolific practice. It’s the result of the actions you take day after day for years and years. And it doesn’t suddenly hit you, coming out of nowhere like a tsunami. It’s a slow swell, that almost imperceptible lifts you day after day, and only in retrospect will you see how far you’ve come. In the day to day, you just have to trust the process.
If you want to become a writer, you don’t do so by quitting your job, moving to a hut in the mountains, and writing day in and day out. You do so by building a writing habit.
When you want to get in shape, you don’t do so by signing up for a gym—you do so by actually exercising, day after day, putting in the effort. And it never gets easier. That little bit of growth that you can push for on any given day always happens when you go beyond what comes easy. It’s when you either wrestle or dance with the beast. This is true in all things.