Choose Your Pain, Not Your Pleasure

Some days it just flows, man.

I sit down to write one of these pieces, and I barely have to stroke the keys before I come up for air and see what is a pretty solid first draft of something in front of me. There’s a beginning, a middle, an end, a meaning, and now all I have to do now is tighten it up.

And at the risk of sounding corny and woo-woo, on those days it’s like it’s not really me who’s doing the work. I’m there, and my fingers are hitting the keys and making the words pop up on the screen, but it’s more like something is writing through me. I’m just tuned into it, taking dictation.

But not most days. Ha!

Most days, I still feel I’m like I am tuned in… to static, that is.

I type – just like on the good days – but the words don’t fit together, and they don’t make any sense, or even if they do, they mean nothing to me, and I’m embarrassed to have even considered them as options. The backspace key earns its keep on these days.

At some point, it coalesces. I put out something that is workable. But it’s agony to get there, and I spend far more time wondering why I was so stupid to ever commit to writing something every day than actually writing. I curse God. I curse the Devil. I curse my mother and father for making me.

And yet, you know what? I wouldn’t trade these painful days for the world. Because I’m doing the thing I always wanted to do. I’m not making a living at it yet. I don’t think I’ve produced anything of any great worth yet. But I’m doing it.

It’s painful far more often than it’s pleasurable. And yet it keeps providing me with more and more meaning and fulfillment every day that I show up to write something.

A couple of sunny Saturday afternoons ago, I was in the queue to get into Tesco. Because of the two metre gap between everybody, the queue extended all the way to other side of the car park – fine, I thought. Plenty of time to just stand here and do nothing and soak up the sun. Well, after about thirty seconds I was bored, so I got my phone out. I don’t quite remember how, but I ended up on Mark Manson’s blog, and this quote from the article I read that day pretty much sums up what I’m trying to impart today:

“Sometimes I ask people, “How do you choose to suffer?”

These people tilt their heads and look at me like I have twelve noses. But I ask because that tells me far more about you than your desires and fantasies. Because you have to choose something. You can’t have a pain-free life. It can’t all be roses and unicorns. And ultimately that’s the hard question that matters. Pleasure is an easy question. And pretty much all of us have similar answers. The more interesting question is the pain. What is the pain that you want to sustain?”

Mark Manson – “The Most Important Question of Your Life”

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