That’s something I’ve come to realise for myself. I read a lot. Mostly books, some articles. Biographies, history, philosophy, business, fiction. I’ve read a lot of self-help too. But I read less of it now. How come? Well, most self-help is of the ra-ra variety. It’s only function is to agitate. To expose you to the options, to the possibilities, to the infinite varieties of form your life can take.
That’s not a bad thing.
A friend read my recent interview with entrepreneur and community-builder Gwen Yi. In that interview I said:
“Something that has always interested me is being able to learn, grow, and figure out where your limitations and boundaries are. How do you do that all the time? Because it’s not enough to just do it once.
When I was twenty-one, I was a typical twenty-one year old. Then a collection of factors coalesced and started me on the road I’m on today. But it’s not enough to have that reinvention occur once. It needs to be an ongoing process. How do you do that?”
To the many books that I’ve read, I owe that realisation. And once you see something like that, once you glimpse a truth, you can’t un-see it. You can bury the knowledge somewhere deep, starving it, hoping it never rises to the surface and initiates change. But you can never completely kill it. A truth is like an invincible weed. Once it’s taken root, it’s impossible to displace or destroy.
A truth like that is energising too. It fuels itself. I now know I can decide to live my life on my own terms. So I don’t need to hear more inspirational stories. The only reason I need to hear them is so I can learn how the people involved did what they did, and apply it to my own life.
I guess what I’m trying to say in so many words is that, after a certain point, we don’t need encouragement. We don’t need to stoke the flames anymore. A truth is self-perpetuating. It feeds on itself. What we need isn’t inspiration, but help. Someone or something to show us how, not tell us why.