Over our favourite flat whites, my friend Steve and I were talking through the creative things we’d be doing in the new year.*
I shared how I want to write a book. Steve commented about everyone having one book in them.
‘There are no manuals for the construction of the individual you would like to become. You are the only one who can decide this and take up the lifetime of work that it demands’.**
Your manual for your life is you.
Here’s one book which lies within you.
It’s an autobiography, not a biography – no one can write this for you. Neither can it be formulaic – a copy of someone else’s story (too many want others or fate or god to tell them what to do, how to feel, who to become).
Donald Miller shares how he couldn’t control the characters when he was trying to write a novel. He wanted them to get down to some work and they turn up on a beach drinking margaritas. Our life manuals should have the same characteristic.
We need to find the freedom to let our lives breathe and grow and develop, and to love the person we’re becoming – our future Self. We need to provide our stories with presence and freedom and space and hospitality and depth and paradox.
There’s the anti-manual or the horror story, too. When we dream of escaping or hiding. Yet, what we find, when we daily turn up to others, our world, and our future Self is, we discover we are more than we thought ourselves to be (like our world, we are is complexity and wildness to us), we have more than we thought ourselves to have (enough to gift to others), and we are able to go farther than we thought we ever could (failures don’t stop us but strengthen us).
There’s more than enough for a book in you, whether you ever write it, or, as we all must, you get on with living it.
(*Steve’s going to be making something amazing every day – he just doesn’t know what yet. I was on the receiving end of one of these – a coffee loyalty/friendship card with tick boxes for when we meet up and talk. Pretty awesome, not least because I’d forgotten my wallet and needed to use it straight away.)
(**From John O’Donohue’s Eternal Echoes.)