“Most of my life,” she says, “I’ve been in search of IT. And I thought IT came inside a big box with a bow on top carefully marked and labeled and numbered. I brushed away all the ‘incidental’ discoveries and cobwebs. But now everything counts. Now I search for traces of miracles … and I find them everywhere.” – Monique Duval
In the midst of our everyday lives, there is a strong push toward doing versus being. Doing is associated with momentum and transformation – a constant sense of urgency to finish A to get to B. We fantasize and resist resting into the present moment.
“One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon – instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our window today.” – Dale Carnegie
When faced with a difficult challenge, it is natural to want to run in the opposite direction. Internal resistance urges us to create an idyllic future. Yet, we often feel stuck in this yucky state, in the here and now. And we feel the void that exists deep within our soul. Our essential self wants us to be in the moment – to notice our energy, to intentionally rest into the chaos and let go of the constant berating of where we are now versus where we should be.
But remaining still and accepting the status quo feels counterintuitive.
Avoidance is a powerful mechanism for dealing with negative emotions. In some situations, avoidance is necessary; however, it shouldn’t become the conditioned coping tool for all situations with a glimmer of negativity.
When we avoid our present journey, we reinforce the belief that once this difficult period is over, we will be set free – on our way to what awaits just around the corner. I often notice myself grasping at the (false) belief that once you fail you’ve earned your ticket to the beautiful Promised Land. I hear myself saying, “I just need to get around this corner and all is well.” This thought translates into: “Once this is over, there is no looking back. I’ve crossed the finish line of the mental marathon.”
And when you do make it to the finish line, there is a momentary sense of accomplishment. You made it through!! You rest your sore body and enter “recovery mode,” excited to start anew. You glance back at the track and smile, telling yourself: Good job; now let’s celebrate!
Then, the fantasy ends.
You are alone. The finish line is quiet – no one is cheering on the sidelines. You set about to find the crowd, but realize that the darkness is beginning to creep in and nothing makes sense. The story you’ve told yourself is not based in reality. You trusted your story. Didn’t you just cross the finish line?
Yes and No.
In life, there are only beginnings – a series of sequential starting points. Some are wonderful and some are not. But we live to start over and over again. Starting what energizes us is amazing. Starting what drains us: not something we run toward. So we transform it into something with a finite finish point. But by doing this we focus solely on where we are going versus where we are now, in this moment. Without this awareness, starting over again becomes terrifying – an almost impossible feat. But it doesn’t have to be. You can choose to steer your life or let go of the wheel and lose control. If you choose to steer, you’re faced with decisions, one after another. It is within these decisions that you become who you are. You gain knowledge after each one, creating a calmer, more resilient sense of self. Metamorphosis becomes a constant rather than a finite process.
Does reality await you around the corner or fantasy? Are you setting yourself up to start or to finish?
If you’re starting to finish, what awaits you at the finish line? Challenge this belief with rational reasoning. Prepare yourself for a saga of triumphs and challenges. Think about how you can create safety nets along the way – so tripping is no longer seen as doom and gloom. Start celebrating along the road rather than waiting for the cheering crowd to greet you around the bend.
“How could I find it [happiness] again? This is the question we ask ourselves nearly every day. In the asking, we make happiness a mystery: an elusive pursuit, an incomplete project, a scientific inquiry with inconclusive results. And yet the more we search, the farther afield we stray. The more we question, the more we doubt. … Happiness is simple. Everything we do to find it is complicated.” – Karen Maezen Miller
The dark times in life cannot be erased or prevented. There is no limit to how many challenges one will face in his or her lifetime. We don’t know how many marathons exist.
You choose your role. Are you the victim in your life’s story or are you the hero?
“Oh, how I have failed! In relationships, in business, in freshman chemistry at Virginia Tech. In a multitude of places, I have failed. And I have failed for one simple reason: because I’ve tried. In any effort, failure is a possibility. And beyond any failure, there is always room to try again.
I don’t wish for any easy life. I do not walk this earth imagining how much better my life could be if only this or if only that. I have dreams I want to pursue, goals I want to accomplish, and experiences I want to enjoy, but beyond any wanting, imagining, and hoping, I also nurture a quiet space in my life for acceptance. A space where I can probe deeper into whatever might feel less than ideal and explore whether or not my initial judgments were accurate. Oftentimes what I thought might be a source of unending woe turns out to be an incredible blessing.
How often do we spend time and energy searching for, trying to find or hoping to construct some image of ‘perfect,’ some definition we have decided is the only way we can possibly find contentment? How many gifts and treasures are overlooked because our attention is fiercely focused on what is not available? When I wake up each day, I do not set out to create an existence of ‘perfect.’ I instead try to open myself up as much as possible to all the perfect moments that exist in an imperfect life.” – Christine Mason Miller
Learn along the journey, adding tools to your mental armed force. Resist the urge to steer off your course and onto another path that seems (key word: seems) free of turbulence. In the darkness, use starlight to steer through the uncharted territory. Through each experience, you’re stretching your ability to face the unexpected while still remaining in control of your vision. Life is happening right now – not somewhere around the corner. Take out your decorations and invite the cheering crowd. You’ve been through dark times and you’ll encounter them again, but why not open up the container of glitter and share where you are right now? That’s the story I choose to star in. What role do you choose for your life story?
Acknowledge where you are now versus where you should be. Be in the present moment without resistance.