I don’t know about you but I’ve often felt like I must be doing it wrong—missing the secret ingredient to life. But that’s so over now. I’ve seen through the veil. I’m rocking out to a new hymn. It’s a shift in focus I’m going to share with you:
Screw “doing it wrong.” I’m doing things. I’m making wacky, inevitable progress.
I’ve put wobble girl in the closet. I’ve muzzled Ms. Perfection who would like to ask a few more questions throughout the next decade, get it right, before ever getting it wrong. But I’m showing up to the party now. I’m wearing a tiara or a tent, but I’m going forward. I didn’t get the memo. I may never get the memo. Maybe I haven’t life-hacked a thing. Maybe I don’t even really know what life-hacking means.
But here’s what I do know. I’m showing up. I’m going to be that zombie in a bad B movie. I’m going to keep getting up again. Because life will eventually bow to those who do the legwork. I am not wasting one more stupid minute on wondering why I always do it wrong, do it wrong, do it wrong. Here’s my new religion, one that has me singing halleluiah to a wide-eyed, stumbling part of myself:
I am doing it. I am doing it. I am doing it.
I’m in the game. I am acquiring and integrating experience. I am learning while in the air. I’m a freaking warrior and acrobat and researcher. Sure, I’m uncomfortable but it is the discomfort of righteous endeavor. Finally, I’m not sick with the discomfort of being on the sidelines and not realizing my potential. Now I’m uncomfortable because I’m climbing Mt. Everest with bare feet. But I’m gaining momentum, even at a snail’s pace. I’m in my own race. I’m in motion.
How about you? Are you firing out actions on your own behalf? Or are you stifled by believing your actions won’t really get results? Well, let me take you to the river.
Here’s some laments you might recognize: Why does this always happen to me? Why am I not good enough? When will my life take off? How come other people have figured it out and live in houses with swimming pools? These questions will steal your oxygen. These questions will pollute your blood. These questions are distractions that keep you from experiences that will literally mute and overcome you with awe and gratitude.
Really, why would you chase “answers” to the wrong questions-- when you can chase your dreams instead?
What if you didn’t take things personally? And instead you kept going after the things you wanted, not getting slimed and bogged down by your own endless alibies and myths about why you can’t have the life you desire and how you’ve always been “less than,” or held back by money or mommy issues, dysfunctional dysfunctions, or name your blame. Yes, I’m all for healing. But I’ll tell you, sometimes chasing your dream can heal you more than any guru. Getting what you really want is an elixir that makes your cells line up like chorus girls. Progress is happiness. “Understanding” just might be the Dollar Store party favor.
I’ve seen students use the pursuit of “self-awareness” as self-avoidance dressed in robes. Seeking greater knowledge can be a way of seeking protection from exposure and risk and disappointment. But really, my friend, you don’t want protection from real life. You want more exposure.
Believe me, left to my own devices, I am thin-skinned, prone to wailing disappointment, and take everything way too personally. But I’m throwing myself into rejection and overwhelm now. I’m in the goddamn game. I have the courage to look stupid and the fortitude “to feel like I’m drowning,” ---because I am sorting out a thousand new choices, 10 new learning curves, and my knees are shaking and I’m having a hot flash or a panic attack or a stroke of genius or a thousand bees are humming a chorus in my veins. I’m in the weeds. But at least I’m not in the bleachers anymore. I’m in the room and that’s where the deals go down.
Because mastery doesn’t come a la carte. It comes on the plate with all the fixings you’d rather not stomach.
That’s just how it goes. And I’m finally ready to love myself enough to face it all, ready or not. I’m not going to say, “But I tried.” I’m going to love myself enough to try again and again and again until I land where I feel I belong or somewhere else that feels as right.
I have a success coaching client I’ll call Lisa, who is dating and in every encounter getting closer to her ideal man. Of course, Lisa doesn’t always see it that way. Occasionally she sees it as having eagles rip out her eyeballs. On those days, I am not her favorite person and she decides she wants to marry a donut shop instead of a guy and live in the bliss of crème filled centers. Then she just wants to never date again so that she can avoid the disappointment of not getting what she wants. Except she knows, probably because I’ve told her a few thousand times: opting out of challenge is exiling herself to a life of never getting what she wants.
“But what if the whole world is filled with men who only talk about themselves?” She whines. And I add cheerily, “Yes, and maybe men who eat with their mouths open making slopping noises as they tell you about another achievement.” Lisa giggles then moans. “Oh sweetheart,” I say, “Somewhere there is a man who eats with his mouth closed. Somewhere there is one who will listen to you. Somewhere there is one who might eat with his mouth open and you won’t even care because the molecular dance will be different and you will see the moon in a whole new way.” Then I gently urge her to forget about taking another quiz in a woman’s magazine. Life is the ultimate quiz. And life will give you every answer if you keep showing up for yourself.
“But I’m tired of trying. It’s exhausting,” says Lisa.
I get it, I tell her and myself and all of us who have ever tried to get something we wanted and didn’t get it—yet. But pursuing what you really want doesn’t have to be exhausting. That’s your mind. That’s your s-t-o-r-i-e-s. That’s a sack of stones you’re dragging to the launching pad. I quote a passage from A Course in Miracles. “You are not really capable of being tired. But you are very capable of wearying yourself. The strain of constant judgment is virtually intolerable.” Let go of judgment or interpretation. This is a leap toward liberation.
What would it be like to take action without the weight of reaction? What if it didn’t mean anything?
What if you didn’t take the process and the results personally? What if you just got busy with the next possibility and the next and the next? A dandelion doesn’t cast a seed and then hold its breath and wait to see if and how it takes root. It keeps casting seeds. It gives everything it has to everything it is born to do. What if you kept casting your seeds to the wind---and it didn’t matter which seed took root because you knew something would. That’s the nature of creation. Something always comes through.
I return to Lisa. “It wasn’t the one pizza date that killed you. You’re tired because you’re telling yourself, ‘I’m never going to find a man. I’m always going to go on vacation alone’” But a single moment is not a sneak peek into forever. Each moment is a step. It’s a necessary step. Believe me, whatever you’re doing, you’re not doing it wrong. You’re doing it. And this is how you grow, heal, stretch and become ready and receptive to the magic of creation.
Lately I’ve been trying to reach out and secure more speaking engagements for next year. Some of my attempts fall on deaf ears or into the echo chamber of cyber space. I could let it “be a message.” Or I could let it be a moment--- and keep going in the direction of my ultimate desire. It feels so empowering to keep moving forward. And that’s what I’m going to suggest for you this coming month.
Send in your manuscript. Sign up for a class. Apply for the job. Show up for audition. Do something. Anything. Do more. Do it now, not later. Do it again. Do it anyway. Yes, I know this sounds like a Nike rant. But then a life of meaning is a marathon. And it’s going to rain sometimes. But you don’t run a marathon by talking about how you don’t love the rain. Because when you feel yourself moving towards what you really want---you won’t feel the rain.
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