Focus

“When you throw a rock into the water, it will speed on the fastest course to the bottom of the water. This is how it is when Siddhartha has a goal, a resolution. Siddhartha does nothing, he waits, he thinks, he fasts, but he passes through the things of the world like a rock through water, without doing anything, without stirring; he is drawn, he lets himself fall. His goal attracts him, because he doesn’t let anything enter his soul which might oppose the goal. This is what Siddhartha has learned among the Samanas. This is what fools call magic and of which they think it would be effected by means of the daemons. Nothing is effected by daemons, there are no daemons. Everyone can perform magic, everyone can reach his goals, if he is able to think, if he is able to wait, if he is able to fast.”
-Herman Hesse, ‘Siddhartha’

It was over a year ago that those words touched me so much, and since then my singleminded focus on my career has wavered and wobbled and ebbed and flowed. After an incredible year at FilmAid I decided a month ago to switch to freelance work and focus on my career. Within a few weeks, I was back talking to my old web design clients and a few new ones, making plans for projects that would last through the summer and beyond. The prospect of moving straight out of a job to a paying freelance career was really exciting, and I felt very satisfied with how things were turning out.

Today I was asked by a tree what I wished for most, and I realized that at the moment it is a successful career. Not money or fame but impact. Looking back on my life I want to be able to say, I had a real impact on the world. Walking home from dinner with my new roommate Tim we discussed all the places we wanted to travel and I thought, how sad that we only have one life to experience things, that we can only walk one path even if it will go very far. And tonight I watched a video of John Mayer putting out his second album and realized he looks young now. He was 26 then..I turn 26 in a week.

I will admit in this very public place to sometimes being a slave to that creature in the pit of my stomach that says I am not good enough or successful enough. Sometimes it creeps up and latches on and becomes an all-consuming fear that I will never have a chance to do what I want to do and life is passing me by. It saps my creativity even as it drives me to produce further. It is one of a small pantheon of demons – perhaps you know it too. It is self-focused, not result-focused, destructive. It forgets who I am.

My challenge is to learn from this demon and not let it consume me, to remember the other goals of my life: to live in happiness and harmony and change the world in small ways as well. My challenge is to remember that sometimes sitting still is faster than thrashing forward, to live in moments.

And I think of Siddhartha, who has a singleminded focus but is not obsessed. Who is clear of mind and open to his future, even while he is set on his goal. He goes about his life with open eyes and in following him I try not to fall inward to distraction.

Today I fired my web design clients. Today I decided to make films, and that felt good.

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