“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.” ~ Rumi
At 7 a.m. on April 8, 2014 Elle Luna clicked the publish button for an essay titled The Crossroads of Should and Must. Little did she know that her words were going to touch a chord with millions of people worldwide. Over few short weeks Elle’s article was shared over 5 million times on the internet.
Goes without saying that I was one among those readers who drew boatload of inspiration from Elle’s post.
Luna redefined the meaning of Should and Must. She writes –
Should is how other people want us to live our lives. It’s all of the expectations that others layer upon us…When we choose Should, we’re choosing to live our life for someone or something other than ourselves. The journey to Should can be smooth, the rewards can seem clear, and the options are often plentiful.
Must is different. Must is who we are, what we believe, and what we do when we are alone with our truest, most authentic self. It’s that which calls to us most deeply…Unlike Should, Must doesn’t accept compromises…To choose Must is to say yes to hard work and constant effort, to say yes to a journey without a road map or guarantees.
Vincent van Gogh chose Must when he continued to paint, canvas after canvas, even as the world rejected his art. His work went largely unrecognized while he was alive.
Choosing Must raises questions that are scary, big, and often, without an easy answer in sight.
What if one doesn’t know what his path is?
“If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path,” Joseph Campbell said. “Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.
Thinking that your Must will appear, fully formed, is like believing you can write a book by wishing and thinking. But doing one small thing, daily—pick up the pen, write a paragraph, make a list of words—that is how your Must will appear.
When you choose Must, the line separating you and your work starts disappearing. Elle quotes from Arianna Huffington’s biography of Pablo Picasso. Arianna describes how Picasso balanced work and life, saying:
The more I discovered about his life and the more I delved into his art, the more the two converged. “It’s not what an artist does that counts, but what he is,” Picasso said. But his art was so thoroughly autobiographical that what he did was what he was.
Picasso’s secret to his genius was this – his life blended seamlessly with his work. It was impossible to tell where his life ended and his paintings began. This observation lead Elle to a set of profound questions.
What if who we are and what we do become one and the same? What if our work is so thoroughly autobiographical that we can’t parse the product from the person? In this place, job descriptions and titles no longer make sense; we no longer go to work, we are the work.
I guess if you give an honest thought to these questions, it can open up a world of possibilities. It did for me.