Inertia - Nº136
The magic you're looking for is in the work you're avoiding
Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.
— Maya Angelou
I’ve learned that the self is not something that we inherit or discover through emulation. It is created. Embodied. From filling ourselves with characteristics of our choosing, which we adore.
Magic happens when we hold ourselves to the right standard. It happens when we understand our actions presently and in retrospect, when we let our turning points guide us and our work.
Turning points are quintessential moments of reckoning; they reveal things we spend a long time trying to deny. That we are lying to others and ourselves, we are turning away from what we love, and most of all: we are more capable than we lead ourselves to believe. Every turning point I’ve had has happened when I stopped thinking about my fictions and got honest with myself. Exposing myself to necessary confrontations that felt both euphoric and traumatic. All in order to be more self-aware of the parts of me that have always been in there. To uncover a self within the self.
The post from which this title comes has been the perfect call-out for me. I’m still at a point in my life where life is quite unstructured. With where I work, and what I wish to achieve, the feedback loops that I have are often long and sometimes non-existent. But when you have dreams, you need to remember that you’re the only one accountable for yourself. Excuses are only fooling you. And you are responsible for the effort you pour into your life’s work, and how measured you are with it.
It can be hard to keep going with our work because effort is very hard to measure—and rarely seen. Real, meaningful effort takes time to flourish and show results. I refer to all kinds of work: internal work such as confidence building, developing taste or intuition. External work such as writing and decision-making. When the fog is thick and nothing sings to you of which direction you should go from here, improvement feels hard to notice.
But that gives no justification for lacking accountability. Your life is not a moving memory, you write at every moment. And the choices you make can either heal or hurt you. Haunt of liberate you. Magic doesn’t happen by itself, nor can you always perfectly package your work to make it look like magic. There are going to be moments where what you’re doing is messy, disorganised, and reads terribly. To err is human. You’re going to feel incapable from time to time. But that’s what makes your movie read beautifully. It’s organic, powerful, relatable.
The point of Inertia is to understand how important it is to focus on getting going over getting good fast. The former takes care of the latter. When you let it, it can be delightful. You won’t often feel emotions of delight during the journey—much of what you do day-to-day may even feel pointless—but life is about being committed to creating that delight, even on the days when you have a bad attitude or don’t care that much.
You’re going to have bad thoughts, low self-belief, or a closed heart and mind that is impossible to pry open from time to time. But if you want to create magic continually, like you are capable of, then you must remain committed to letting the world come in and change you. Your reality will be full of nice surprises when you stay open to it.