Wrestling with Apathy

I’m always somewhat confounded by the apathy with which those around me seem to regard their lives. For me, “good enough” is not good enough. I’ll admit, it’s burdensome, but I’m not content with living a mediocre life. I don’t simply want to strive for the best; I have to.

A friend recently described to me his uninspired ambitions as an author—that he’d like to be just successful enough with his writing to supplement his income, and he’d be happy. Honestly, as we sat at a table together in some fast-food restaurant and talked over stale burgers and soggy french fries, his words (and surprisingly not the food) depressed me. But they also inspired me. Until that moment, I had been quite vague with myself about what my own goals were as a writer, what I wanted to achieve and how quickly I wanted to make it happen. And so on the back end of our conversation, I asked myself a simple question (so simple, in fact, I wondered why I’d never before asked it): “What kind of writer do you want to be?” I tried to be as honest with myself as possible in answering that question, and my initial reaction scared me a bit, to tell the truth. If I disregard the odds, the obstacles, and the demoralizing voices inside my head, my answer boils down to this—I want to be one of the greats.

As soon as I typed that, I was tempted to delete it. Because, let’s be honest, it’s ridiculous, right? But when it comes to writing, that’s where my heart is. I abandoned long ago the pipe dream of becoming rich from an authorial career; my writing and my financial concerns are completely separate entities. I write because I believe I have something to say that others need to hear, and I strive to write well because I believe I have the talent to say what I need to say in a way that nobody else can. So where’s the limit? In my opinion, I am my only limit. As soon as I come to this conclusion, however, I consider again my answer, and I’m terrified by its implication. But at the end of the day, I still find myself wanting not only to be a decent writer but to be a great writer, the best writer. And I can’t imagine living any other way.

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