Picking up the good fight

I’m back from lazy beaches and cerulean seas. There’s nothing like the sound of waves to bring me to a thoughtful state and no better time than being on a holiday to take stock of my life. Taking myself out of my daily routine – out of my context – paid off though the experience was jarring.

It all started with encountering the phrase “the good fight” in Paulo Coelho’s book The Pilgrimage. Coelho attributes the first mention of this phrase to St. Paul. In any case, it struck a cord with me.

What I understand “the good fight” to mean is persevering to stay on one’s true path, provided that one has the wisdom and intuition to know it, no matter the obstacles, never settling, never letting our dreams die. And once a wished-for destination is attained, there is always another path to walk to a new purpose in life, a new dream, and a new joy.

Like many writers and artists who live their dream on the side, I have to contend with a daily routine that is not permissive to writing. In a way, for years now, I have had only one foot on my true path. The combination of being on a holiday with reading this particular book of Coelho’s led to me realizing with a shock that I did a lot of dreaming, planning, and waiting for a better time to come, but had never really opened the box labeled “Writing for Real”. I hadn’t even unlocked it. All I did was polishing it.

So, I went to the hotel bar at 11 a.m. and downed a shot of Tequila. Not my usual reaction to crises.

I love Paulo Coelho’s writing, and though some of the content in his books is a bit too mystical for me, I take what I need from his wonderful stories. His ever-persisting urging in his books, interviews, and blog for people to follow their dreams and not let fear stop them, is perhaps his greatest service to mankind.

So, though I had already read a few of Paulo Coelho’s books, there in an alien environment, the message finally hit home. I was evading the good fight. Up to now, lack of time, tiredness, and frustration were to me perfectly legitimate excuses to have relatively long stretches of creative inactivity, though these stretches would make me feel sick inside. What made me have a Tequila at an embarrassing time of the day, however, was the realization that despite my conviction and the integrity of my dream,  I was still choosing to prolong the agony of walking on the wrong path. I was still saying to myself that better times will come for my writing, and was accepting that I could not yet focus on my craft because of a day job and chores.

The only way out, I realized, was to grit my teeth and step out of the devilish spiral (need money to support writing -> have to work a day job -> can’t write -> going crazy). Still, I can’t take the proverbial plungeI can’t simply quit my job come what may. It’s financially irresponsible and very unsettling, and I don’t write when I worry. So here’s where the gritting of teeth comes in. No more excuses. It’s time to open the box and see what comes out. It’s time to pick up the good fight.

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