"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."
(The quote came from a commencement speech he gave at Stanford. I encourage you all to read the whole speech.)
Reading those words came at the right time for me yesterday after a long day of living someone else's 9-5 life.
The economy is tanking. Many of us are scraping by on low paying (read: no paying) jobs. We have families to feed, mortgages and bills to pay. Everything in our lives is saying follow the herd, stay on the path--what I call "cow logic." Yet, I have the audacity (that's right, I said audacity) to be a poet? What am I thinking? Book sales are declining. Fewer and fewer people read poetry. Heck, if asked, most people cannot name a poet beyond Shakespeare, and even fewer can name a living poet.
I don't claim to have any answers. I'm not sitting on a big pile of money. Big-name publishers are not banging on my door to publish my next book. But when Steve Jobs talked about living someone else's dogma, I knew exactly what he meant. There are more good reasons not to be a poet than to be one. Yet, I am. I am a poet slogging through a new manuscript that makes me deliriously happy. The act of creation and revision has pushed me beyond my limits, which means I must be living closer to my dogma/personal truth/authentic self than ever before. At least I am trying.
So my wish for you today is to turn up the volume on your inner voice. Do something today that reminds you how connected you are to the world. One small change in your life can make a difference. How can we make the impossible possible? Dream a little. Write a poem. To borrow from Mary Oliver, what are we going to do with our wild and precious lives?
Steve Jobs understood that time is short. He was passionate about his vision to create value and find solutions that would change people's lives. I hope to exhibit a little of that strength of conviction today because that's what I am called to do. That's what my inner voice is telling me.
In the words of Steve Jobs, my wish for you today: Stay hungry. Stay foolish.