I’m often asked how I manage to do so many things: write books, teach, raise children, travel. How do you do it all? You must be so disciplined, so organized, people say.
Yet really I am not disciplined and certainly not organized at all. What I do: writing most of the day when I’m not teaching, is what I love to do. It is a pleasure to return to the page, though of course there are always moments of discouragement. I am lucky enough to be able to write almost anywhere: on trains, airplanes, on the airport, snatching a moment here or there wherever and whenever I can. The one thing that interferes with my concentration is a cell phone conversation in the next seat, and I have sometimes almost been thrown off a train because I have protested my neighbor’s loud and long conversation. “If you shish me one more time I’ll throw you off this train,” a large passenger once told me!
So, should one just go with the flow, do what you want to do? Follow as they say, your heart’s desire? Of course, it is not as easy as that, and many people, particularly when they are young, and perhaps gifted in different fields, are not sure what they really want to do.
There are moments, obviously, when I am obliged to control my impulses: for example to eat too much! I do step on the scale and make sure I’m not putting on too much weight and eat accordingly ( cutting out the starch and sugar!) . I do resist the impulse to check my internet for the tenth time. Wait until midday to look again, I will tell myself. Even in order to get enough exercise, I will trick myself into keeping at it: Just another fifteen minutes, I will say to myself as I plough up and down the pool. But for the most part I have found that if you really love what you do, and you have some outside encouragement and support, you don’t need a great deal of discipline or self control.