There seemed to be some misunderstanding around the message in my previous essay, You are not what you read. My point was that we need to forge action.
In this age of information overload, our cup of life is overflowing. Yet we continue pouring stuff into it, hoping for better answers, greater inspiration, and more clear ideas, waiting for the perfect opportunity to get started.
We read, watch, connect, and communicate with an endless number of things while quietly misleading ourselves into believing that these activities are a form of productive action.
They're not productive. They're just an excuse for not practicing.
Action makes stuff happen. Action is the fire, not the firewood. Action is the growth of a tree and the budding of a flower, not the soil or the nutrients.
Action is the wind, not the high and low pressure systems that create it. Action is the crashing of a wave, not the water that makes it.
Action is the marathoner breaking a sweat, not the marathon being run. Action is the writing of history, not the memory of history itself.
Action is practicing what you preach, not the preaching of what you practice.
You won't find action in books or ideas or even in the wisdom of a teacher. You won't find action in your thoughts or your visions or even in your experiences. You won't find action in these words.
Action is the seed of change stirring within you, coaxed to life by the nutrients that encourage its growth. These nutrients contribute to the realization of action.
Ideas give action hope.
Vision gives action direction.
Intention gives action focus.
Inspiration gives action strength.
Thoughts give action structure.
Experience gives action validation.
All contribute to the instigation of action, but they are not action. Thoughts, ideas, inspiration, experience, vision, and intention mean nothing if they're not focused towards action.
You can sit in a cubicle all day reading about stuff that inspires you, but unless you follow through with action and spread the roots of change -- unless you break a sweat on that new fitness goal or make that decision you've been putting off -- nothing is actually going to happen.
Water remains still and motionless without action. Fire stays dormant, flowers don't bloom, trees don't grow, and wind doesn't even exist. Time forces your life into action by aging your body, but that's all it does. The rest of life is up to you.
And this action part? It takes time. It takes commitment. It takes dedication and focus. It requires sacrificing some of that other feel-good nutritional stuff while you're busy cultivating action.
If you wish to explore your full potential, you cannot consume and create at the same level. You cannot read everything, watch everything, and meet everyone that requests your attention, no matter how inspirational the content or how wise or experienced the person.
As Bruce Lee said, "empty your cup so that it may be filled; become devoid to gain totality." If our cup is always overflowing, we cannot take the time to cultivate something meaningful with its contents.
We can pour and pour and pour and tell ourselves that we're taking action, but until we stop pouring and apply ourselves, nothing will happen; all that potential will overflow and evaporate.
The here and now is the realm of action; the past and the future are sterile environments where action cannot breathe life. Instead of doing stuff, just do. Instead of trying to be someone, just be.
Instead of cultivating, cultivate.
Instead of living, live.