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What we enjoy doing

One of the books I’m reading right now is So you want to talk race by Ijeoma Oluo. In it, she talks about how she started her writing career - she was frustrated over and over again with the racism all around her, she couldn’t pretend anymore it didn’t exist, she started talking about it, she turned her food blog into a “me” blog, and ever since, she’s been writing and speaking about racism. Reading this I’m once again encouraged to write more. This book along with many other books have helped me realize how authentic stories are powerful and grabbing.

I am still overcoming my very own thought that has been holding me back: 1) Whatever I want to say has been shared and said by someone else way better than I can ever do; and 2) It will not be helpful or valuable to anyone so why bother.

One of the books that challenged me recently to think differently a novel by a Korean author, 최은영 [Choi, Eunyoung] titled 밝은 밤 [Bright Night]. It is a story of four generations of Korean women lived from the early 20th century to present. There are a plethora of novels that tell stories of Japanese colonization of Korea and Korean War. The heartbreaking stories of Koreans trying to survive and awe inspiring stories of Koreans rebuilding our country from ground up. I’ve read many of those stories written, both fiction and non-fiction. Each of those stories made me think about and feel something different. This novel reminded me of that very fact. I was crying, laughing, underlining, thinking, and writing while I was readIng this precious novel. It had a very different impact on me compared to any other stories I’ve read.

The stories I can tell can’t be and won’t be the same as those told by others. We may talk about something similar but our lives unfold differently and our perspectives on everything, anything are different from each other’s. And you know what, even though, let’s say, no one cares and no one reads what I write. So what? Writing gives me joy. It is my creative outlet. It is how I find my voice. These are more than enough reasons.

Elizabeth Gilbert, best known for her best selling book, Eat Pray Love, said in her book, Big Magic: Creative Loving Beyond Fear, “I happen to believe we are all walking repositories of buried treasure”. And creative living is all about finding the treasure buried in us. She encourages her readers to ask themselves what they are afraid of and She lists a number of ways people are afraid to pursue a creative life and two of them that gave me a real sting are:

  • “You’re afraid your work isn’t politically, emotionally, or artistically important enough to change anyone’s life.”

  • “You’re afraid everybody else already did it better.”

The author shares her friend, Susan’s example. Susan really liked figure skating but quit when she was young thinking she wouldn’t be able to be the best in the world so why continue. She started skating again at the age of 40. Not to pursue a dream of becoming Olympian by giving up everything else she has built for the last 40 years of her life. She figure skates several mornings per week “simply because skating is still the best way for her to unfold certain beauty and transcendence within her life that she cannot seem to access in any other manner”.

It was liberating to let go of the pressure of - writing has to generate financial return, it needs to lead to something grand, it needs to create massive value for a massive audience... This pressure was stopping me from spending more time on what I enjoy doing. I'm going to spend more time writing because I love being lost in it. Ah, it feels so good to say it. Do you have anything that you truly enjoy doing but have been putting aside because you couldn’t find any reasons other than the fact that you enjoy it? This might be more than enough reason for you to pursue it. I highly recommend Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic, if you need more encouragement.


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