Infinite Energy

During my first semester of college, we had to code and submit a Java programming exercise every week. For me, it was torture — and thus more work than my other seven classes combined. “Where is the bug? Why won’t this thing compile? Argh!”

A good friend of mine fared much better. He had what our professor used to call “the third eye.” My friend had some talent for using the various code elements, and he also had a knack for spotting bugs. As such, he was also willing to spend more time on the exercises, which, ironically, meant he was often done faster than me. In the end, I quickly concluded that coding was not for me and proceeded to copy his and other people’s solutions to make the workload manageable.

A year later, I was hell-bent on completing an animated music video project I had started ages before, and over the Christmas holidays, I finally finished the thing. I must have spent well over 100 hours in total on it, and one of the reasons I kept quitting was that the editing software I used kept crashing. It had all kinds of limitations, and that made the whole project feel like treading water. This time, I persisted, but I also never tackled an editing project of this magnitude ever again. Too many close calls of my laptop almost going out the window, I supposed. Again, I concluded: Video editing is not for me.

Now, more than a decade hence, I’ve had to update those lessons several times. The “third eye” my programming professor was talking about was merely a well-trained gut, and the reason my friend had more patience was that he had a head start in terms of skills. Editing was more fun because I had a similar head start, and it was mostly the external limitations that made it frustrating. But if I had continued to practice either coding or video editing, both patience and expertise would have arrived well in time.

Instead, I chose writing — because apparently, when it comes to putting words together, I already had enough of both of those things. Almost from day one of my writing journey, I’ve had more ideas than I can ever write about and more excitement to do so than anyone could reasonably expect. I have infinite energy to write, and I plan to draw on it every day until I die. That energy only seems to have grown in the decade that I’ve been doing it. The more I write, the more I want to write. It’s paradoxical and more than just the enjoyment of hard-won skills, but it works.

95% of your passion is built, not found. The 5% where you can be smart in picking is about that little bit of patience and talent that’ll give you a head start. Find your infinite energy, grind through the dip, and never look back.