find your home

We need to detach from our successes and failures, no matter how massive they may be and simply focus on our actions. The outcomes are not in our control, but what we control is taking the action that best aligns us. 

We commonly make the mistake of believing that our joy lies in our creations, but the truth is that our joy lies in the creating. That’s where we find our bliss.

Elizabeth Gilbert, who wrote the famous memoir Eat Pray Love which later got adapted into a movie, felt that the magnanimous success that she experienced actually hindered her from writing another book. And it almost seemed like an impossible task. In her 2014 TED Talk Success, failure and the drive to keep creating, she says, “… that whole ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ thing was a huge break for me. But it also left me in a really tricky position moving forward as an author trying to figure out how in the world I was ever going to write a book again that would ever please anybody?” and jokes, “I knew well in advance that all of those people who had adored Eat Pray Love would be incredibly disappointed in whatever I wrote next because it wasn’t going to be Eat Pray Love… and all those people who had hated Eat Pray Love were going to be incredibly disappointed in whatever I wrote next because it would provide evidence that I still lived.”

This fear reminded her of a familiar sensation. All her life Gilbert wanted to be a writer more than anything else and she kept writing through her childhood, adolescence and the teenage years. After college, she went through almost six years of constant rejection, yet whenever she wanted to quit, she told herself, “I’m not going to quit, I’m going to go home.” Gilbert shares that that “home” wasn’t a physical place, but it was the act of writing. She said “I loved writing more than I loved my own ego — which is to say I loved writing more than I loved myself.”

It’s fascinating that in spite of all the applause that she had garnered and the success that she had accomplished with Eat Pray Love, Gilbert still found herself identifying so strongly with this failing person that she used to be in her past. She explains: “Most of the time we experience life in the middle of the chain of human experience, but great success and failure catapult you in two opposite, yet equally far, directions — which wind up having the same psychological effect.” She continues, “Your subconscious is only capable of feeling the absolute value of those emotions. And there’s an equal danger of getting lost out there in the hinterlands.”

Gilbert suggests that when that happens, find your way back to your home as swiftly and smoothly as you can. For her, this meant writing her first work after Eat Pray Love, which ended up being a flop. After that, it was all about writing her next project, and the project after that, and projects to come. 

Gilbert says, “There is something in this world that you love more than you love yourself. Figure out what it is, build your house right on top of it, and don’t budge from it. Keep doing that again and again, and I can assure you it’s all going to be okay.”

So, here are a few questions that you can ponder upon today: Where is your home? What makes you feel alive? What kind of work do you love more than yourself? 

Finding your home is all about enjoying the process, and not worrying about the outcome. Whether your work gets accolades and standing ovations, or whether it falls flat and you hear nothing but crickets, you have to find a way back to your home. Don’ t let your past failures or accomplishments intimidate you, just keep on doing the good work.

If you are in love with the ‘creating’ and simply the process makes you feel alive, you’ve found your home. And if that’s not the case, then don’t give up; keep looking and experimenting and there’ll come a day when you’ll find your home. As Steve Jobs said in his famous Stanford commencement speech, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”