Write the Blog You Want to Read
Which of the following two quotes is the most inspiring?
Draw the art you should want to see, start the business you should want to run, play the music you should want to hear, write the books you should want to read, build the products you should want to use – do the work you should want to see done.
Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read, build the products you want to use — do the work you want to see done.
It’s likely that everyone chose the second, a quote by Austin Kleon on doing what you love. The difference between good and great is removing the should before want. Should has a murky, opaque, unsure connotation while want ignites the more organic nature of creativity. Should is a filter word, defined by the culture and wavering opinions of people with unwarranted expectations. It’s heavy, insecure, and irrational.
For a majority of my life, I’ve thought about what I should do more often than what I want to do. My parents divorced when I was 10 years old, so idealism satisfied my need for structure and ambition. I was so often preoccupied with what I should become, how I should act, where I should go to school, what I should pursue as a career, that I didn’t give much consideration to what I actually wanted in life.
When I was first diagnosed with cancer, the very opposite was true. I no longer thought about what I should have done, I was preoccupied with what I wanted. I wanted to experience my youth and to not overload myself with thought. I had no idea how to handle the immediate surge of selfishness, so I used a filter of avoidance, ignoring the responsibility to take care of myself in a physical and emotional way. I wrote about that here.
Now that we’re caught up, I feel like it’s important to communicate where I am today. Over the past few months, I’ve hinted about how I’m struggling with the writing process. I haven’t yet removed the coat of what I think I should write about long enough to deeply immerse myself into what I want to write about. Steven Pressfield labels it as giving in to resistance.
When I was playing football, I never wanted to be the first one to run through the school banner before a game. I was deathly afraid of breaking through the vinyl’s velcro (thankfully, we were above butcher paper) and tripping over anything that may have been in the way. When I was at the front of the group, I always allowed a few other people to run ahead.
Writing a blog has initiated much of the same feelings. Instead of a banner, I occasionally shrink when I think about the process of revealing cancer vulnerabilities, such as sharing a college classroom with kids who can’t legally buy beer, getting pushed out of a job because I don’t have a degree, or being unsure if a rash on my arm is due to an allergy or a side-effect to my medication.
When cancer stopped happening, it’s like the tornado that devastated a small town dissipated, and the debris was the only symptom left on a sunny day. It’s easy to talk about the shock and awe, but it’s difficult to accurately express the deficit once the news cameras disappear.
The great divide is this: I want to read about life after the storm. I want to seek and understand different perspectives. I want to find inspiration in the life of those who have overcome great obstacles. And yet, I always second-guess my ability to do that for others. I suppose that’s human nature. I just don’t want to accept it.
My cancer journey has long been about the process of finding that breakthrough moment when I’m able to comfortably and consistently talk about the effects that cancer has had on my life. My hope is to make continual progress and write the blog that I want to read. If I’m able to accomplish that, maybe I’ll look back and realize that this blog was less about cancer, and more about progress.