“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we really want something. Because the brick walls are here to stop the people who didn’t want it badly enough. They’re there to keep out the other people.” The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch
Brick walls. We all have them in our lives: Those extra-tough, in-your-face challenges that seem tailor made to defeat us and push us past what we think is our limit. I don’t know what your biggest, tallest, toughest brick wall is. It might be finishing a first draft of a project you’ve been working on for a while. It might be figuring out how to revise a piece that’s limping and sagging so that it sings and dances off the page. It might be struggling to get work that you really love and believe in published in the face of repeated rejection.
No, I don’t know what the biggest your brick wall in your writing life is. But I can just about guarantee that there is one –I know there is in mine. Because if there isn’t one, then we’re probably not working hard enough or aiming high enough.
So what’s the biggest takeaway from Randy Pausch’s inspiring yet challenging statement? To my mind, it’s this: The brick walls we face aren’t external, they’re internal. They’re not about showing a resistant, indifferent, stacked-against-us world that we have what it takes. They’re about showing ourselves that we know what it takes and that we’re willing to put it all on the line to achieve whatever goal it is we’ve set.
“It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.” Edmund Hillary said pretty much the same thing long before Randy Pausch. We are the mountain. We are the brick wall. It’s our own resistance, inertia, and fears of success and failure we need to overcome by fighting through them every day with every tool in our kit bag. If we can fight through what we think is stopping us — or even if we don’t really know what’s stopping us, then we can climb whatever brick wall or mountain is in our way.
It’s simple, but not easy. But nothing worth doing is easy. So let’s lace up our climbing boots and all write on!