I had a chance this weekend to read Neil Gaiman’s commencement address to The University of the Arts in Philadelphia. I encourage you to take a moment to read it. Written for young artists it nonetheless has a universal appeal. Gaiman shines a light on what for many of us can be, at times, a dark and lonely path from the here and now to our distant goals.
Here’s an excerpt from his speech:
“Sometimes the way to do what you hope to do will be clear cut, and sometimes it will be almost impossible to decide whether or not you are doing the correct thing, because you’ll have to balance your goals and hopes with feeding yourself, paying debts, finding work, settling for what you can get.
Something that worked for me was imagining that where I wanted to be … was a mountain. A distant mountain. My goal.
And I knew that as long as I kept walking towards the mountain I would be all right. And when I truly was not sure what to do, I could stop, and think about whether it was taking me towards or away from the mountain. I said no to editorial jobs on magazines, proper jobs that would have paid proper money because I knew that, attractive though they were, for me they would have been walking away from the mountain. And if those job offers had come along earlier I might have taken them, because they still would have been closer to the mountain than I was at the time.”
Life moves so rapidly, and we face a non-stop barrage of things we can spend our time on. Gaiman offers a simple way of staying connected to what is meaningful: Will this move me towards the mountain, or away? What then is the choice I want to make?