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want to v. HAVE to

“You want to make it. I HAD to make it.” – Al Pacino, at Chrysler Hall, Norfolk, VA, June 2012

We tend to put terms on ambitions and goals and dreams. We call them passions or what we’re driven to do. Pacino took that a step further. It’s DNA. It’s what we are MADE with and for, and he didn’t use this word but it was screaming in my head – what we are CREATED for. He went on to say he COULDN’T do anything else. This was his option, and not even an option that implies there are other options.

It made me also think of that quote that flies around Facebook and various places here and there – “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” (By Howard Thurman in case anyone was wondering – an author and Baptist preacher whose book Jesus and the Disinherited influenced Dr. King Jr. who then received spiritual counsel from Rev. Thurman for years. Just saying that because the dude knew what he was talking about.)

The things you LOVE to do, and I mean LOOOOOVE to do, are very telling about a person. The things you HAVE to do, the things that turn you on, the things that you cannot possibly let go of that drag you in and down as the case may be. People often say things like oh if I just had time, I would write more or paint more or sculpt more or do my nails more. The truth is you FIND time to do the things you are most driven to do and we make excuses for everything else. And no, maybe I would say the time finds YOU. You just DO it. a la Nike.

My heart was leaping around all over the place sitting there last night, listening to a man who has a huge body of work to show for all his time. I was struck by what seemed like humility – his gratefulness to people in his life who encouraged him – even naming his high school acting teacher who went out of her way to tell his grandmother that he should be an actor. These are very sweet moments in life, to reflect back on all those that got you where you are right now and became a part of the fabric of who you are. And he recognized that he wouldn’t have gotten there alone. I thought about people in my life who influenced me and got me where I am right now and how so many things work together (for good even!) and how we cannot possibly see the future but now and then we get glimpses of it through our past. Looking back and seeing the mistakes and failures, and then the phoenix, if you will, rising from the ashes and trying again. Because you HAVE to. Some may call it Destiny or the Universe granting us our wishes. But I call it Grace and the Gospel poured out on our heads and getting soaked up in our pores and forever altering our DNA until there is no option left but to serve it. To live it, breathe it, create it, turn it over in our minds, discuss it until 1 in the morning, and reexamine it over and over on the drive home and into the wee hours of the morning because you simply cannot stop thinking and smiling and singing it, probably to the chagrin of the neighbors. At least I didn’t blast this song, which I might have but it just occurred to me this morning…

“No reason left me to survive
You saved me the day you came alive”


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