I’m reading Steven Pressfield‘s excellent little book about writing, how to be a professional writer, what that means, what makes you stop writing (or doing any creative work) and how you can overcome it. I’m almost finished reading The War of Art, but from the very fist chapter, I knew this was a winner. It’s one of those books that make you feel like you have to underline every single sentence.
Let me give you an example. Last night, I read a chapter titled “Life and Death”. This is a chapter I wanted to underline, quote, print out and frame, and shout out from the rooftops. In “Life and Death”, Pressfield discusses how a profound shift takes place in the awareness of a person who finds out that he/she has a terminal illness.
“Things that sixty seconds earlier had seemed all important suddenly appear meaningless, while people and concerns that he had till then dismissed at once take on supreme importance.”
How many times have we heard stories of people who, after being told by their doctors that they have just six months to live, quit their jobs to spend time with their families and do something that takes everyone by surprise?
Tom Laughlin, an actor, lecturer, author, and psychologist who works with the terminally ill, says that this “deadline” makes people start to think about what they’ve always wanted to do in their lives. They start thinking about how they’ve always wanted to play music, or paint, or write, or travel around the world.
The reason this happens, Laughlin says, is that consciousness shifts from the Ego to the Self. As Pressfield puts it, “The world is entirely new, viewed from the Self. At once we discern what’s really important. Superficial concerns fall away, replaced by a deeper, more profoundly grounded perspective.”
So what’s new about that? We all know that, right? Who would continue working in their 9-5 jobs or prefer to spend time in their cubicles or in office meetings when they find out they have six months left? So what’s so amazing that I’m dedicating an entire blog post to this?
According to Pressfield, once people make this mental shift and start pursuing their dreams, they recover from their illnesses.
And Laughlin, as well as Pressfield, ask some crucial questions:
“Is it possible… that the disease itself evolved as a consequence of actions taken (or not taken) in our lives? Could our unlived lives have exacted their vengeance upon us in the form of cancer? And if they did, can we cure ourselves, now, by living these lives out?”
How much negativity exists in our lives when we aren’t doing what we aren’t pursuing our dreams? And how many diseases baffle doctors and researchers, who end up explaining them as being a result of “negative stress”, among other things?
Call me deluded, but this makes a whole lot of sense to me.
What do you think?