Earlier this year, I felt I had arrived at a new crossroad in my life. I had to make a decision on what to do next, which direction to take. One thing was sure: I needed to do something new that would get me out of my routine. Was it because I was getting older, it was much harder than I expected. I had dreamed of doing a lot of things, gotten the support of my loved ones and friends. Still I couldn't make a decision...
Always dreaming, musing here and there, I stumbled one day in an essay written by Elle Luna on Medium, titled The Crossroads of Should and Must.
I must admit that, even before I read the first lines of the article, I loved the title (my editor years resurfacing somehow). It remembered me my early English classes, when I was struggling getting the difference between should and must where my native language has just one word devoir, whose meanings are brought by context or tense.
The intention behind Elle's essay was clear:
"This is a story about two roads –Should and Must. It's a pep talk for anyone who's chosen Should far too long –months, years, maybe a lifetime– and feels like it's about time they gave Must a shot."
Elle's words couldn't have been coming to me at a better time. They were aimed at anyone looking to follow the energy deep within their chest but aren't quite sure how. I was the perfect prospect.
Should is how others want us to show up in the world. It's the vast array of expectations that others layer upon us, Elle says. When we choose Should, the journey is smooth, the risk is small. Must is different -there aren't options when you choose Must, we are no longer looking for inspiration out there. Instead, we are listening to our calling from within, from some luminous, mysterious place.
However, choosing Must is not easy, may even look dreadful. To Elle –and I agree– the prospect of abandonment, failure and humiliation is the scariest feeling that make people decide against taking the leap into
"...that great unknown, that transformative place where nothing is written, nothing is guaranteed, and everything is possible."
Must requires time alone, resolution and focus. To integrate into our existing reality, not obliterate it, Elle adds.
Elle Luna, who left a dream job and put aside a very successful design career to become a full-time artist, recounts how the path to her Must started with the recurrent dream of a white, bare room, with a mattress on the floor. She looked for it in the real world, found it. It's now her studio and home.
The first time I had known about Elle Luna was when Tina Essmaker interviewed her for The Great Discontent and I had been hooked right away by her infectious enthousiasm for life. After reading the Medium article, she became my unaware mentor.
I have had a recurrent dream myself for quite a while. I am at the intrance of a building. Facing me, a long corridor with doors on both sides, several doors. I am late. I am supposed to take an exam of some sort and all the doors are closed. No sign, absolutely no sign on any door. I am late and alone. Every time I have this dream, those doors are all there, shut, with no sign, and I must take that exam.
And then, one morning...
You pushed me gently on the back, Elle. I have opened the first door.
I am launching my Red Paperboat today.
In March 2015, Elle Luna published an expansion on her article, a colorful little book, The Crossroads of Should and Must, Find and follow your passion. Truly a Must read!