I know I’m not a very good writer. I’m adequate, but I ain’t no Hemingway. Actually, I’ve never read any Hemingway, so I can’t say that from personal experience (though I’ve heard he wasn’t bad).
But I feel pulled to write. The problem, I’ve always thought, was that I had nothing important to say. Oh, sure, I had lots of ideas, but if I had the notion that I could write about those ideas, my old friend self-doubt would show up.
“I’m not good enough. What will people think of me? They’ll all laugh at me! Where’s my authority? Who am I to tell people these things? I quit college, I’m a recovered alcoholic, I’m bipolar, I’m introverted, I have a low level blue collar warehouse job, I’ve treated the people I love like shit…. and I can’t spell very well.” Not exactly a paragon of success and virtue.
So what could I ever say that would matter to the world?
There’s a story that I think I first read in a Wayne Dyer book. It was about a person on a beach, throwing starfish that had washed up on the shore back into the water. There were hundreds of them, dying and littering the area. She continued to pick them up, one by one, and chuck them back into the water.
A passerby asked what she was doing. She answered, “Saving these starfish.”
“Why? You’ll never be able to throw all of them back. Seems pretty pointless.”
So the thrower picked up another one, tossed it into the sea, looked at the passerby, and said “It wasn’t pointless to that one.”
For some reason, that story came to mind this morning while reading through some of Brian Johnson’s PhilosophersNotes. I don’t remember which note it was that sparked the thought, because the story wasn’t in the note itself. But a common theme throughout many of his notes is on finding your purpose and passion.
Here’s the deal – I’m a part of this world. So if I’m doing something that matters to me, something that isn’t pointless to me, I’m doing something important for the world.
The same goes for you.
We are not strangers in a strange land. We are an integral part of the universe. So to do something simply because it makes us happy, makes the world a little more happy.
Doing something that fulfills our own purpose, fulfills the purpose of the world.
If you are a dying starfish… throw yourself back into the ocean of your own purpose, your own joy, even if you don’t see how it will benefit others. And if you can’t throw yourself back in, seek out others who can help. I wouldn’t be alive today if it weren’t for the many people who cared enough to give me a good toss when I needed it. Especially those who kept tossing me in when I would swim back to shore.
I think I’ll hang out in the water now. It may not always be comfortable, but it’s where I belong.