Do any of us know where we're going? Perhaps the lucky few who have discovered, truly, who they are might. But for the rest of us, I think just knowing where we are is the best we can do.
Speaking for myself, I've always found that "where do you want to be in five years" a terrible question. Who can know such a thing? Well, no one, obviously. So I'll rephrase--who has any inkling of such a thing? There are things I'd love to do--travel off of this continent, buy a house, pay off school loans. Those are my top three. But to put them in a time frame fills me with anxiety and throws into sharp relief the time I've "wasted" or spent otherwise.
And, of course, sometimes the universe has other plans for us. So. Back to the beginning. Knowing where we are, where we (sometimes, quite literally) stand, is, with whole-hearted certainty, the best we can do at a moment's notice.
It's hard because we want the best life for ourselves. But, you know, I think we spend so long looking for it, mourning for its absence, or hoping it will arrive, that we can so easily lose our minds--and our hearts--to the search.
The only solution, obviously, is to accept one's present. And yet, as simple as that seems, we resist. We resist and resist and resist until we're left immobile and incapable of making even the simplest of decisions for fear that it will be the wrong one.
I'd like to think our profound, seemingly infinite, capacity for fear is a misplaced inheritance for storytelling. Perhaps this is all it is: our brain, trying to connect dots in the most creative way possible. After all, we all know how well disaster sells...
And maybe there's no way to stop the relentless story line, but if we could just see it for what it is--mostly fiction, then perhaps we'd breathe easier through our hard days.
I read this this weekend: responsibility is the ability to respond (i.e. not panic). That resonated so deeply with me--the simplicity and the profound truth of it. That's all leadership of any kind is (including the ability to lead and master oneself) isn't it? The ability to respond. Beyond that, or to unpack that a bit, it's the ability to pause long enough to parse out the most prudent response called for in that moment.
The ability to pause--maybe that's the heart of it. That pause is necessary for any decision in any moment, but even more so in a situation requiring immediate action and immediate attention. A pause to take stock, a pause to note any fear or hesitation and to move forward anyway. A pause to keep us away from the long, treacherous fall into panic which, once stumbled into, there's no (easy) way out of that free-fall.
Maybe that's the only skill we need in this life--the ability to pause. From there, all roads clear.
I have a few superpowers. One is canceling plans (sorry). Another is overthinking. I have a strong feeling I'm not alone on the latter (and maybe not on the former, either... #introvertsunite). And while I'm not bothered by the first, I'm trying to wean myself off of the second.
Because it *is* an addiction, isn't it? Overthinking? It becomes a way to procrastinate, a way to focus on ego (because anxiety is, at its heart and by its nature, the most egocentric of emotions), and a way to keep us stuck in our comfortably uncomfortable patterns.
Despite evidence to the contrary, I'm always convinced that *this* time, my anxiety isn't playing me, that *this time* it's got my best interests at heart, that *this time* its warnings and alarm bells are harbingers of something real, that *this time* is the time to listen.
But when that's *every* time, you have to wonder. You have to wonder if you'll ever learn. But I suppose, just writing this *is* learning. Awareness *is* progress. Well, I'...
I think we often fall into the misconception that it takes energy to be who we are, to show up for ourselves, as ourselves. But it's the misconception that taxes us, the trying to try, or not to try, as the case may be.
Being, even becoming (or allowing) who we are should be easiest thing in the world. Does that mean there aren't things to learn about ourselves or about how to navigate the world? Of course not. There's always more to learn for the willing. But there should be (key: should be, ought to be) an ease in our bearing, in our communication, in our arrival. The trick is always, always to allow. To allow for shortcomings, for mistakes, for misunderstandings because attempting to avoid those is what costs us, what depletes us.
It's inevitable that people won't like you, just as it's inevitable that you won't like everyone. And, sure, you'll talk about those you dislike in unkind ways, and you'll regret that, and maybe you'll learn, or maybe you won't, but allow either outco...
We are primed to respond to alarmist news, to gossip, to anything that feeds on fear or anxiety or anticipation. We know this, and yet (and yet!) we fall for it every time. We fall for the dread and we fall into our old litany, and all it means is that we forget to breathe. We forget to remember that we've been here before, and we forget--most of all and most profoundly--how strong we are, how capable, and how often we've heard this song before.
The moment you have, as opposed to the moment(s) you don't have (yet)--that's the trick, isn't it? that's the lifelong work of remaining where you are, rather than madly catapulting yourself into created moments, anticipated moments, moments most likely fraught with some dire prediction or other. All we have is the moment we're in.
For all the good it does, it bears repeating: all we have is the moment we're in.
Which begs the question, who am I trying to convince here? I'm certainly not teaching anyone anything they don't know--myself included. It's the putting it into practice where we need the reminding--daily, heck, hourly reminding. Minute-by-minute reminding, most days.
So we crack on and haul ourselves, kicking and screaming, back from the edge of anticipation and dread and back into the moment where we can, perhaps, catch a breath or two before chasing ourselves down again.
It seems like such an easy concept--knowing where you are now. But if you think about it, it makes all the difference in the world. You don't have to worry about where you're going; you don't even have to know what you're doing. As long as you're in the moment, as long as you know (literally) where you are in space, how it feels to breathe there, how your feet feel in their shoes on this floor, knowing what your eyes see and your ears hear, then you'll be fine. The information you need will always come to you, a solution of some sort will always arrive, if you are present.
But that's a big 'if.' We're so rarely present; our brains love to whip us around, whip us into a frenzy of anticipation, anxiety, what if's, and random worries. But if we can BE present, we could realize we have all the answers, or the ability to learn the skills to find the answers, at our fingertips.
We know this because it's true. We've had moments of absolute clarity, moments of absolute presence, and I'll bet y...
Food, water, shelter, warmth are all obvious, life-sustaining essentials. But I'm quick to add space to that list--space to think freely; space to make judgments, and then assess them for honesty; space to move and dance and run without witnesses (because, no matter how popular the quote, I've never been able to dance as if no one were watching); space to make your mistakes and your quiet triumphs; space to decide how to go forward, and how not to go back.
Find space--even if it's under a bed, in a shower stall, under the winter coats at the back of the closet, but designate it, name it, christen it: space.
Make it your second home and watch how quickly you thrive.