The Third Thing

ThreeA couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about the three big things in my life and what they are. In case you didn’t read that post, my three big things are 1) family/life responsibilities, 2) work, and 3) writing (or story-telling). I hope that I will always have family / life responsibilities. I will always need to support myself and my life. Those two things are non-negotiable. But the third thing…well, the third thing is the reflection of who I am.

I know that I can only handle three big things in my life. I try more than three, and I start dropping balls or plates or whatever. Maybe there are some people out there who can handle more, but I think most are like me. Three big things.

The third thing can get you in trouble, because it’s the thing that’s not defined by the parameters of human society. That’s the thing defined by YOU. I submit that if you can find your third thing, you will be able to fully live your life.

And I have to believe that if I fully live my life, if I fully inhabit the person I am, then I will be able to contribute something to the world and those around me.

Even if that something is, in my case, only a few hours of entertainment.

Here’s how it works in my life.

I know that my third big thing is writing – specifically, telling stories. In the future, storytelling might mean beaming a thought from mind to mind. In the past, it meant sitting around the campfire or jesting in a court. But today it means video, audio, or writing. At the moment, I write.

And yes, I write romance. I don’t ONLY write romance, but that’s what I’m focusing on for now. I’m not writing classic works of fiction here, just things that might entertain the people who find them. But telling stories is my center point, my point of balance. And writing them down makes me a better person.

Wait, what? How does me writing romance novels that hardly anyone knows about help anything?

Well, when I’m not writing, when I’m not sinking into the creative process, I feel empty. I feel two-dimensional and pale, like I’m a line drawing instead of color animation. That’s when I fall into addictive behaviors. That’s when I get so annoyed I can’t stand it. That’s when I have bad thoughts about myself and the people around me, and want to lash out at them. That’s when I get soooo angry. That’s when I’m so tired I can’t function. I often think that the people I work with should be encouraging me to write in the morning before I get to the office. When I don’t, especially when I’m in a destructive pattern where I haven’t worked for several days, I’m manic, depressed, and, I’m sure, a joy to be around.

When I am fully involved in my creative process – in other words, living from my center – I feel energized and at peace with myself and, by extension, those around me. I feel “full”. When I feel “full” (of life, I guess), I have more to give other people. I don’t feel like a victim, I feel like a participant in the process of life. I’ve tapped into the basic part of me, of who I am. Even though I’m only writing silly romance novels not many people know about, or blog posts, or newsletters.

I’m blessed to know what my third thing is. I might lose sight of it from time to time, because there are so many other pretty things in life to explore, but deep down I know. Not everyone knows. But the point is, we all have it.

Your third thing might be gardening. Or running. Or hospitality. Or compassion. Or traveling. Or teaching. Or designing games to play with your kids. Or painting. Or dance. Or balancing spreadsheets. Or translating. Or working at an animal shelter. Or working in a soup kitchen. Or writing songs. Or training your pet cockatoo.  Or…or…or…

Your third thing is whatever makes you feel the most intensely you.

Whatever that thing is, you should try to do it. I’m not special; everyone can tap the deep well of creativity and joy.

If we spend all of our time on social media, or obsessively surfing the Internet, or listening to talking heads expounding on the news, we won’t go to the well. Then we’ll be empty and angry.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, if you don’t know what your third big thing is, try to find it. And if you think you have fifty big things, maybe take a look at them. It could be one of them should be big, and the rest should be small.

No matter our circumstances, we all have this miracle of a life. Let’s not waste it. Let’s be the best people we can possibly be. The time we have is too precious to do otherwise.






  1. Wow, you really nailed it. So much anger and frustration around today and it’s because people are aimlessly bumping around in life, often without the first two, but definitely without the third. They make their third thing hate and that is so very sad for everyone. I think fear also keeps people from finding their third thing because you need to have the courage to do ‘your own thing’ and not what the herd is telling you to do. As long as one’s time is totally taken up with sensory input from electronic media, whether it’s movies, television shows, music, pod-casts, radio, etc. one never has time to discover what is important in life and specifically what one’s own ‘third thing’ really is. Thank you for the insight.

    • Betsy Horvath says

      @Athena: It so easy to get drawn out and swept up into the whirlwind, especially today when we’re encouraged to climb into media of all sorts and escape. When really we should be focusing on being the best person we can be, because then we’ll have more to give. Wherever you go, there you are! 😀

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