Joan Didion on Why I Write

...it took me some years to discover what I was.

Which was a writer.

By which I mean not a ‘good’ writer or a ‘bad’ writer but simply a writer, a person whose most absorbed and passionate hours are spent arranging words on pieces of paper.

Joan Didion

 

Thanks to Brain Pickings for reminding me of this quote. It's such a delicious quote about a topic I care deeply about. I too am a writer, compelled to pick up pencil and put to paper or to furiously type on a keyboard daily. Since I was a kid I've enjoyed many hours enamored with words on paper. While I've held a number of titles throughout my life--project manager, executive coach, CMO-for-Hire, buying assistant--being a writer is something that I am everyday regardless of my title. It's just a part of my genetic makeup. I simply can't help myself.

I have this notion that each of us have something that is so endemic to who we are that we are compelled to do it; a compulsion that comes within the deepest part of who you are. For me arranging words on paper is my compulsion. It helps me process my thoughts and to understand the world around me. When I am in my deepest despair you'll often find me curled into a corner of a library or bookstore. Once I've sorted through my thoughts I feel much more at ease. I suddenly know how to approach a problem or take a creative approach to a project. If I don't write for a day I just don't quite feel like myself.

Writing? It's just a part of who I am.

What is your compulsion? And what compels you to do it?

On Self-Respect

"Self respect is a discipline, a habit of mind that can never be faked but can be developed, trained, coaxed forth." Joan Didion

A while back, I had a conversation with a friend who said she had trouble loving herself just as she is. Well, she liked most of herself but not some parts of it. This makes me so sad. Not loving yourself in the very moment you're standing is just no way to go through life. While you may love everything about yourself except for your thighs that's still a problem. Um, because they're a part of you and you're a whole person. It's not like you can just take them off when you want to right? This is a clear lack of self-respect.

Unfortunately my friend is not alone.  Many people I suspect feel this way. I'll be happy with myself when I'm x lbs. I'll truly accept and love myself when I meet the person of my dreams. I'll be lovable when I have that killer designer wardrobe. I'll feel ready to make a big move when my revenue reaches x. It's so easy to fall prey to the someday illusion.

Admit it. You've done it right? I know I have. The thing is it's just an illusion. Once you get there you'll discover another plateau while staring off at a new mountain to climb.

The answer is not waiting until you're perfect to be present to your present, to love yourself, to have happiness. Appreciate this moment exactly as you are and exactly as things are.

Perfection is just a perception problem. That's right I said it. Your perception is off. You're not seeing the world through the right lens. Rather than rose colored lens' you're seeing it through more like a murky shade of brown. Perfection is in the moment, not in some far off artificial landmark you create.

It breaks my heart to hear someone hating on themselves. It breaks your heart when you do it too. Every time you resist this moment of you a little tear develops and weakens you. Please don't break my heart or yours.

If all of this hasn't convinced you yet, consider this:

When your parents had you they didn't think, "This baby kinda sucks but wow he or she will really be great when they're an adult. They'll be perfect when they stop pooping and eating and crying." They thought: Look at this perfect, beautiful creature we just brought into this world. He (or she) is perfect in this moment. All shriveled up, crap all over you, screeching so loud you could break some dogs ears.

Remember that the next time you want to hate on yourself or the current moment. Again, I call on the wise Joan Didion:

"To have the sense of one's intrinsic worth which constitutes self-respect is potentially to have everything: the ability to discriminate, to love and to remain indifferent."

Don't wait to respect yourself. Self-respect is the foundation for success and happiness. Do it today. Actually do it right now in this moment. Just appreciate who you are and what you have in the moment you find yourself reading this little ditty.

I'll wait.

There.

Doesn't that feel much better?