February 24, 2021

Compost for worlds we cannot yet imagine


Many creators develop the feeling that we’re losing our game. Or that we’re playing the wrong one. We’re drowning in work, dying of thirst from the lack of it, or worst yet, becoming dehumanized from the loneliness of trying to find it.

Take it from someone who has slogged through all three of those agonizing scenarios. Brutalizing to the soul.

The upside is, when you feel like you’re losing, you can still can change the game you’re playing. When you feel like you’re done with the game or the game is done with you, you can still pivot to something else. But only if you are willing to surrender. Only if you’re ready learn to operate outside of your precious identity, let go of some ways you defined yourself in the past and break some of the rules you worked so hard to build.

Chris Rock once observed that when it comes to hecklers, both in person and online, people can only offend him if they mean something to him. His joke was, we can’t break up if we didn’t date.

It’s a shining example of someone who isn’t worried about losing a game that he isn’t playing. Rock is free to create the game he’s most committed to playing, not to mention, motivated to reinvent that game while he’s playing it.

Even if you’re not a celebrity millionaire performer like he is, that doesn’t make the concept any less applicable.

For me, that process of letting go meant taking my career, something that used to be the heart of me, and making it just a part of me.

It’s not an easy task for a workaholic. When your career is your only conduit to a sense of self and your sole point of identification, letting go feels like a death of the darkest order. Which probably explains the panic attacks.

Whyte wrote it best in his inspiring essay about ambition:

We are all compost for worlds we cannot yet imagine. Realizing its inescapable nature, we all can see heartbreak not as the end of the road or the cessation of hope, but as the close embrace of the essence of what we have wanted or are about to lose.

And so, letting go of playing our outdated game doesn’t mean we don’t care. It doesn’t mean we’re giving up.

It simply means that we are no longer invested in building a brick wall to keep things from changing.

It’s a tough way to live, but a damned good way not to die.

Once you let go of the ego’s stranglehold, what will become available to you?