An Apt Fable...
Learning to walk again without pain after a hip replacement is one way to be forced to slow down. Someone told me it would take about 6 months before I’d feel like myself again.
Hearing such news, my mind went blank. Then I saw ‘does not compute’ in small green letters typed out across my inner monitor. I was so identified with driving in constant acceleration mode, I had no idea where 1st gear even was.
Turns out it will take 6 months to recover and realign. Maybe longer. Yet soon enough, and much to the benefit of my soul, my livelihood and really to everyone around me, I will have turned ‘going slower’ into a new groove. Phew.
Oh, to be moving in 1st gear. Besides actually seeing and appreciating what’s happening in my life, I’m hearing more truth coming from the inside. Truth about what I actually need, what I want to create, what nourishes me. For the most part, these truths had mostly been drowned out by a boatload of conditioning – conditioning being all the ideas and beliefs (the memes) absorbed from others and the culture around me since day one.
Some of these ideas and beliefs were valuable and some did keep me safe. But a whole host of them are just crap. I look around at these scattered piles of ideas and see they are carried down from generations. They are plain ‘ole used-up. Worse, they are proven trip wires to living well.
So, before I share some of the life-affirming truths I’m hearing, first a very partial listing of the defunct ideas that will assure toil, repetition, a scarcity of joy and a blunt on my creativity.
Old ideas like:
Making a living has to be hard. I’m not contributing unless I am, in some way, suffering
I can only make a living if I hustle and push what I’m ‘selling’
I need to make my ‘should’ list the priority, otherwise I’ll be deemed irresponsible and self-centered
The world only values what I’ve done, not the core of who I am
Things get done because I apply myself and use my personal will to shape the world
I can direct and control my life
Fill in yours here: ____________________________________________________
These ideas run deep. It’s part of our ‘heroic’ cultural mythology, especially those of us grown in the soil of the West. It sure looks like what everyone else believes. And because so many of us share these beliefs, we’ve created a reality where these ideas appear to be ‘true.’
But moving into 1st gear for the last 6 months has created a startling new stillness. I can no longer saddle up and direct myself into the world. I haven’t had the energy for socializing or planning ahead. I read less and sleep more. Even music, something I would play in the background most of the time, has gone silent for long stretches.
Some people close to me would probably counter all this and say, from their perspective, it looks like I’m still pretty engaged. But for me, it’s engagement in 1st gear, not 5th. And in this new gear, I hear my joyful soul. She’s offering up several compelling ideas. New ideas like:
I can create sufficient abundance to care for self & family without pushing
Living simply with fewer material attachments is living richly
When I trust in life, I stop gripping…and start learning
Listening to my soul’s calling is honoring my own dream, not the dreams of others
Everything is already happening. My only real task is to respond to what’s happening more creatively.
Life is far more beautiful as a mystery than it is as something to control
As I listen to what my soul has to say, I have come to believe what my soul has to say. And I can no longer abide by the life-suppressing rules of our current culture, a collective dream that too often feels like a nightmare. Instead I will honor another set of rules—principles, to be more precise--that come from the quietest place. From here I will live a dream of my own imagining and experience a freedom of my own choosing.
Each of us has our own dream to live and when we express it without self-judgment, we are all artists. Arts Corps, the amazing organization that grew from my and many others’ imaginations 20 years ago, once led with a vision statement that read ‘Freedom to Imagine, Courage to Be.’
Thank you to all the individuals who have shaped that vision and made it real for thousands of young people. An emboldened expression of it now comes through my new website, as well as a new podcast series I’ve started with my friend Helen Lowe, where I hope to meet the world with less conditioning and more joy.
Hello World. Meet me here.