She rose from the depths
Dusted the chips off her shoulder
“Courage, dude. The hardest part is finding the courage to walk out the door. The rest is a cakewalk. Everything on the trail works itself out.”
— Overheard near the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, Mt. Katahdin, Maine.
What’s it gonna take? The perfect medium, the perfect notebook, the perfect pen, the perfect moment? What depths of despair about your job, your lifestyle, your inability to break free, break from, break up, will inspire you before you break down?
On which day will the churn of your discontent and the slow shriveling of your creative soul give you the ability to press the override button, to disable the practical, pragmatic voice that shuts down the whispering wind inside you that longs to be set free?
How about today? Is today good? Does a “Monday” work, or the first day of the month, or does the first day of a new year meet your criteria for the perfect day to start over, begin again, do it right this time, finally, forever?
And what does “it” look like? Is it a grand gesture, starting some exercise challenge, kicking your sugar addiction, writing your letter of resignation? Or is it simply opening the door? Not walking out the door into your grand adventure but just quietly, slowly, simply opening the door? Giving the whispering voice inside a breath of fresh air, taking a peek out beyond the doorframe, past the parking lot, up over the cell phone tower, into the imagined horizon, into possibility?
Maybe this the “it” you need to do first: To begin each day with the perspective of possibility instead of the dread of predictability.
Grand gestures are more invigorating, more energizing, more focussed, but perhaps they’re actually easier than doing what really needs to be done. Dramatic decisions and changes in lifestyle are more tangible, identifiable, easier to check off at the end of the day.
But the real work doesn’t involve setting a new personal record of mileage gained or reps completed or pounds lifted or lost. You’ve tried all those. They are good, grand even. But they don’t get you to the heart of the matter.
Because the real limits are not physical. Your limiting factors are in your head, the endless debates, the occasional arguments that are silent to those around you, and which silence you from within. It’s not the voices you hear that are the problem. It’s those whispers that you shush. Those suggestions out of the deep, deep blue (“now is the time,” “this is a perfect opportunity,” “you could start this very second”) which you turn your back on, ignore, discount, dismiss.
So here we are. No extravagant declarations. No purging of the kitchen cabinets or purchase of exercise equipment.
Just logging in to my account, selecting “New,” and writing. Opening the door. Welcoming those whispers from deep within. Giving those soft voices more air, deeper breaths, more reverence and respect.
Yes, it is possible. Everything is possible. There really and truly is nothing of value to lose. Just start by listening. Honoring. Try it your soul’s way and see what happens.
Visit the following link to read more about her work (you’ll need to scroll down when you get to the page): Katharina Grosse exhibits two new works at the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart.
“When you make music or write or create, it’s really your job to have mind-blowing, irresponsible, condomless sex with whatever idea it is you’re writing about at the time. ”
– Lady Gaga
Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta a.k.a. Lady Gaga:
“I had a boyfriend who told me I’d never succeed, never be nominated for a Grammy, never have a hit song, and that he hoped I’d fail. I said to him, ‘Someday, when we’re not together, you won’t be able to order a cup of coffee at the fucking deli without hearing or seeing me.’
Love is like a brick. You can build a house, or you can sink a dead body.”
“In the middle of the journey of our life…..I found myself within a dark woods where the straight way was lost.”
– Dante Alighieri
My dearly beloved brother-in-law would be disappointed in me for not being true to the author and quoting this in his native Italian, but with sincere apologies to him and Dante, these are the words that came to mind this evening, while contemplating where I am in my life journey. (Yes, navel-gazing yet again.)
I swear I don’t understand how the most obvious truths can elude our consciousness. Actually, it’s not that the truths about my life haven’t been chasing me down this past year or two, it’s just that I never felt it quite as profoundly as I did this morning at 9:08 a.m. while sitting at my desk in front of my huge monitor, struggling with the wording of a couple introductory paragraphs on a webpage that typically snags 55,000 – 60,000 page views per month.
What hit me in the gut was: “I have been looking at, evaluating, and re-writing essentially the same words for years, while minutes of my life are whisked away, never to return, trying to make this page appeal to several different “personas” who are “prospects” for a program that promises career enhancing results for its “candidates.”
I’ve re-written it to align with “paradigm shifts” in the “branding strategy” and have been compensated well for my efforts…but I am left staring at essentially the same exact content I was when I started.
[forehead drops onto keyboard] erthjkl0987654rfghjk
I am single, healthy, and well-educated. My children are wonderfully and happily independent. I COULD GO ANYWHERE.
Sell or rent my house and do something with my furniture, books, music…leave this quaint small town with its university and historic tourist attractions and old and new money and go….
I understand that this is a ridiculous, romantic, and naive notion. Because what if, on said journey away from here, me and my fancy-free, medical-insurance-bereft self tripped over my suitcase and broke my leg?
Or what if, after a month of misinterpreting jamón for jam, I was fired from my waitress job in Spain? Or, what if…what if, and so it goes.
And so I read.
Working Identity: unconventional strategies for reinventing your career / Herminia Ibarra
Flow: the psychology of optimal experience / Mihaly Csikszentmihaly
Getting Unstuck: how dead ends become new paths / Timothy Butler
The Power of Story: rewrite your destiny in business and in life / Jim Loehr
Sitting in my comfortable chair, in the middle of the warm dark woods, with my iPad and a cup of tea.
I think it will be a little while before I find my way.