2 years ago

My life used to be a shadow novel. It had plot, characters, sex scenes, action scenes. It had mood, atmosphere, texture. It was scary, it was weird, it was exciting. I had friends who were living out shadow movies, or creating shadow art, or initiating shadow industries. These were our addictions, and we worked them for all they were worth. There was only one problem: none of us was writing a real novel, or painting a real painting, or starting a real business. We were amateurs living in the past or dreaming of the future, while failing utterly to do the work necessary to progress in the present.

When you turn pro, your life gets very simple.

The Zen monk, the artist, the entrepreneur often lead lives so plain they’re practically invisible. Miyamoto Musashi’s dojo was smaller than my living room. Things became superfluous for him. In the end he didn’t even need a sword.

The amateur is an egotist. He takes the material of his personal pain and uses it to draw attention to himself. He creates a “life,” a “character,” a “personality.”

The artist and the professional, on the other hand, have turned a corner in their minds. They have grown so bored with themselves and so sick of their petty bullshit that they can manipulate those elements the way a HazMat technician handles weapons-grade plutonium.

They manipulate them for the good of others. What were once their shadow symphonies become real symphonies. The color and drama that were once outside now move inside.

Turning pro is an act of self-abnegation. Not Self with a capital-S, but little-s self. Ego. Distraction. Displacement. Addiction.

When we turn pro, the energy that once went into the Shadow Novel goes into the real novel. What we once thought was real - “the world,” including its epicenter, ourselves - turns out to be only a shadow. And what had seemed to be only a dream, now, the reality of our lives.

Cite Arrow Turning Pro
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