Apocalyptic Way To Know Your Why

Cormac McCarthy, one of America’s greatest living writers, did an interview with Oprah Winfrey a few years back where she asked him where his idea for his best-selling book The Road came from, and his answer has always stuck with me.

The road is a Pulitzer Prize winning book about a man and his young son trying to survive in a dark and depraved post-apocalyptic world.  

McCarthy went on to explain that his experience with getting the idea for the road is different from any other book he’s written. Usually the ideas for potential books just kind of pops up and it’s just there, an “itch you can’t quite scratch”, he said. 

The Road was different. 

Cormac took his son John, who was 4 at the time, to El Paso Texas, and one night while staying in an old motel in the middle of town, at about 2-3 in the morning, John lay asleep in the bed. McCarthy got up and went and looked outside of the window. 

There was nothing moving. No people out, no cars driving. Most if not all the lights were out. He said all he could hear was the train slowly going by, a very lonesome sound. 

Here he had an image, an image of what that small town would look like a century from now. 

He went on to say, “ I just had this image of fires up on the hill and everything being laid waste, and I thought a lot about my little boy.”  

With a son currently a year younger than McCarthy’s son John was at this time… 

This Hits Me Hard in Feels

Though I don’t write novels and I don’t plan on there being a worldwide disaster that ruins civilization, I don’t know what the future holds. 

But what Cormac McCarthy said goes beyond the idea for his post-apocalyptic masterpiece, to me it’s just about the love for your child, wanting to protect them, provide for them, keep them safe forever. 

I Write For My Child

Part of keeping your child safe is providing for them, making sure they never do without what’s important, and even wanting to give them things that aren’t so important. 

So understand that every time I sit to write, to write my own kind of masterpieces, whether for myself or someone else, I’m seeing that window, with the fires on the hills, with everything laid to waste, and my words helping to lay a path for my son’s future. 

What Do You Do It For? 

You may not have kids, you may not be a writer, but the premise doesn’t change. Something drives you. It may not be as dark as McCarthys vision of a world gone wrong and what it could mean for his son, but like I said in this article, fear affects most of our decisions.  

All that to say, find your why. No, I don’t just mean why you’re in business, why you work where you do, I mean the deeper why. Because if you aren’t putting every ounce of your soul into your life, your job, etc. Then your why isn’t big enough. 

It means you’re too comfortable, if you’re floating along doing the bare minimum, it means you can’t picture crap hitting the fan like Cormac did that eerie El Paso night. 

Start picturing it. 

Think about your WHY and see those flames on the hill, you’ll quit needing to be “motivated” to get stuff done. 

What’s your WHY? If you know it, I’d love to hear. If you don’t, let me know if I motivated you to find it. 

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