03 Nov Only We Determine Our North Star — The Life We Want to Live
Until we determine the sort of life we want to live, others easily inspire our dreams and pursuits, telling us both implicitly and explicitly what an ideal life looks like.
Nobody has it figured out; we’re all just scrambling, reflecting, signaling, including me — does this mean I made it? Have I cracked the code?
When we determine our north star — the type of life that grips us — we choose where to focus our attention. We measure what gives our life meaning.
Maybe it is traditional success, expansion, garnering influence.
It could be the life of a monk, needing little but the open air to be satisfied.
I feel I’m somewhere in between, continually pulled towards each lifestyle like the tides pulled by the moon. This is natural. I hope my expectations and ambitions flow as I do.
Still, we have to start our journey of discovery from somewhere, and it takes honesty with ourselves to know where that is.
Quiet the noise and reflect: what would really bring me joy, not even to attain, but to pursue?
That’s our north star.
We know its true place in the universe. Then, despite the noise and the inevitable clouds which’ll obscure its shine, the lifelong adventure of pursuing that light in the sky begins.
It’s scary to be honest with ourselves. Then, we know if we’re on course or not. This week, after listening to entrepreneur Naval Ravikant on Joe Rogan’s Podcast, I seriously began considering what my ideal life looks like. At least, what I think it might.
I want to focus on doing the things which fulfill my soul, in and of themselves. It’s the simplest things which do this.
In terms of my career, I want to build a life around exploring this beautiful mystery called being human. I want to tell stories, working in the early morning with a hot cup of coffee on a wintry day.
I might be in a city at the start of spring, or looking out on misty, rolling hills in the fall.
I want to watch the sunrise, and help it in any way I can fill the world with light. I want to feel good, healthy, full of love, helping others feel the same out there in the world.
I know this is possible. I know, in a way, I’m already here.
Despite what the world tells us, things don’t need to happen so quickly.
Would you really want them to? Why? What might crossing that illusory finish line bring?
“It doesn’t matter how slowly you go, as long as you don’t stop,” said the Chinese philosopher Confucius.
It’s a continual journey to discover what gratifies our soul. We’ll be swayed; we’ll amble down different roads from time to time, as we should.
From various angles, foreign shores, we will gaze upon our star and see it differently. Just remember that it’s always there; we must only look up, within, to find our light again.
Yes, I hope the efforts I make today will bring me closer to the life of my dreams; but each step, each action, each newsletter, article, or thought that contributes to my growth is a complete action, in and of itself.
There’s nothing more than this. The satisfaction comes from pursuing our star, however slowly, not necessarily from reaching it.
“Always and forever, the reward is the work,” writes Ryan Holiday in Discipline Is Destiny.
“It is a joy itself. It is torture and also heaven — sweaty, wonderful salvation.”
Perhaps there’s a long way to go. But when we truly accept that it will take time and hard work to get to our star, we open ourselves up to the magic of the journey.
That’s what has brought me here. That’s what’ll take you there. I don’t need things to happen now. I don’t want them to.
We don’t need to force anything.
Whenever I feel overwhelmed, I know it’s time to simplify. There’s much that I want to accomplish and experience, especially being here in Japan.
Everything will happen as it’s meant to.
I only need to turn within and follow the instincts that make me feel centered.
“Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed and in such desperate enterprises?” writes Henry David Thoreau in Walden.
“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he ears, however measured or far away.”
I’ve been in Japan for two months. After coming out of the gates hot, I feel the need to rest. That doesn’t mean stop; it means slow down, look around, and savor where I am.
I’m learning. I’m growing. I’m, hopefully, becoming the type of person worthy of the success I one day imagine.