55 In tough times Let’s do more of what we love, not less

BY: Mohammed Issa
Herman Hesse’s Trees
Herman Hesse’s Trees

I stared at my blank screen.

No words flowed through my veins. Worse, no thoughts appeared.

I couldn't do what I loved most. I couldn’t write.

Over the last few months, this melancholy had slowly started to permeate my being. I was losing myself.

I went out to the garden. There was a slight breeze, and the branches of a palm tree swayed.

Its leaves rustled ever so slightly, but the tree stood tall with all the elegance that tall trees summon.


I immediately recalled a beautiful passage of writing from Herman Hesse’s Trees: Reflections and Poems, initially published in 1984:
“For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers.

 I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves.

And even more, I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons.

 Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche.

In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity, but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfil themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves.

 Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree.”

The trees stay true to who they are, never mind the circumstances.

 Much to the contrary, I had lost my place and become lifeless, devoid of thoughts, words, and the inner peace I craved.

All because I had stopped writing—which of course really meant I had stopped thinking, probing, and asking the questions that made my life engaging.


Writing not only allows me to enter into the realm of my subconscious, but also stirs the contents therein such that my inner truths gush out.

In stopping that practice, I imprisoned my psyche within my lower material self, obstructing my own journey into the place where hope and magic exist.

In stopping writing, I silenced my voice. And thus I felt disengaged, unfulfilled and ultimately apathetic.

Do trees stop being trees when a breeze turns into a strong wind and threatens their livelihood?

Of course not. Rather, a tree stands strong, elegantly tall and unruffled.

In June of last year, my company faced several threats: the flailing economy, increased competition, and a lack of vision.

 I decided that it needed my full attention and focus, and as such I decided to stop writing till end of the year.

My mistake

Looking back, however, I think this was a mistake.

In three months following my decision, I quickly became irritable.

 I replaced my smile of contentment with a frown of desperation.

 I had renounced the meaning that imbued my day-to-day existence.

I lost the inner peace that writing always gave me. I was running nowhere fast.

Gandhi once said, “I have so much to accomplish today that I must meditate for two hours instead of one.”

With all that pressure on me, I should have written more—not less.

It was like I found myself several metres underwater in the ocean and decided to throw away my oxygen tank at the first sight of a shark, panicking in my desire to reach the surface.

 But we must hold onto our oxygen tank in moments of danger or fear.

“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.” — Friedrich Nietzsche

Doing what we love is a girdle of support that helps us face any looming battle.

 Without that source of oxygen, we will forever be swayed by circumstances, reacting rather than taking our time to respond.

 And when we start down that reactive road, we quickly enter into an abyss of busyness.

Something—anything—that continually excites us acts as an anchor of support to everything we do and everything we are.

When we find that one thing that sparks our passion, it imbues us with an energy that radiates outward and readies us to serve the world.  

Fate has given me an overactive mind, a curious mind in continual need of satiation. I’m always asking myself questions.

 The more I answer those questions, the better my new questions become. The better my questions become, the closer I get to my truths, and thus to fulfillment.

Why I write

I spent years discovering that writing is the only way for me to get closer to my truths—to fulfilment. Yet at the first sign of trouble, I let it go.

I write because I’m not blessed by any other means to access my mind. I write to make sense of myself—how I feel, what I want, and what I fear.

 I write to make sense of the world around me and to notice things more carefully. I write to understand what exactly I am meant to be doing in my life.

This curiosity wakes me up every day at 5am, when I spend at least an hour reading. It’s only through writing, however, that I can digest and make sense of what I’ve learned.
If I’m not writing essays similar to this one here, then I’m lifeless. A dead man walking.

The funny thing is that the world around me quickly noticed that the life has been sucked out of me.

In the last few months, I’ve often heard, “What’s wrong with you?” or, “You seem to be walking around without any energy.”

My son pleaded with me, “Dad, please start writing again. You are not only dead, but bitter too. Please start writing again.”

What I’ve been trying to say for the last 1,000 words or so is that I have to start asking those questions again. I have to keep chasing the truths that make me come alive.

What I’m saying is that I’m going to start writing again.

Just like the trees, no matter what’s happening around me, I must straighten my shoulders, stand tall, and “fulfil myself according to my own laws.”

The writer is a motivational speaker and CEO of KIMO Home