I want to talk to you about money. Actually, I want to talk to you about your real bottom line. Because if you’re like most of us, you may be trapped in an equation that doesn’t equate. Yes, money is important. But there are pearls of greater price. Take this little journey with me-- because I want to talk to the common sense of your uncommon maverick heart.
First, let’s just acknowledge: It’s expensive to be unhappy. You have to continuously prop up a life that cannot and will never stand on its own.
Way back in my lawyer days, I remember rushing back to the office from a therapy session, sixty minutes of honesty with myself, wiping away tears, then slumping back into my zombie existence. I was crawling on thorns to survive my life. Then I had a realization. I make good money. But it costs too much.
Lately, I’ve had another revelation. My real bottom line is more than a sum-total of shekels. I’m paying attention to where I come alive. Yes, when you choose meaning over money in your lifetime, you may earn less dollars initially or maybe always. But contrary to what you’re trained to believe, money isn’t security. And it’s security you really want and need and crave.
I’m going to share with you some of what’s on my unconventional balance sheet. I hope it opens your mind to yours.
More people die on Monday morning than at any other time. Their hearts give out. Believe me, I’ve seen people with pasty faces and flat eyes tell me, “I’m saving for retirement.” And I want to yell, save yourself! And I think about the woman years ago, who rushed up to me after a talk I gave in Albuquerque. “You have to tell your audiences,” she said. “Tell them what?” I asked. “Tell them about me,” she said. “I did everything right. I worked so hard. I hated my life, but I didn’t want to be stupid or reckless. I didn’t run off to Paris. I didn’t even take a painting class on the weekends! I just kept deferring and deferring. I told myself I couldn’t take the time. But now I’m dying,” she said. Her voice cracked. Then she practically yelled at me. “I’ve been preparing my whole life for the future. Now I don’t have a future. Tell people. Tell them about me,” said this strident messenger in a GAP sweatshirt. I promised her I would. And I have.
Some years ago, a woman told me that her friend Sarah read my first book This Time I Dance! as she lay dying in a hospital bed. I was moved, startled, and a bit confused. “Why would she read a book on creating the life and work you love?” I asked her friend. “Oh, she wasn’t working on her career. Your book made her feel loved. She wanted to deepen her self-love. So, she read her favorite parts of This Time I Dance! again.” I looked at this woman as though she had handed me a bouquet of orchids, a “Get Out of Self-Attack-for Life” free pass and a Nobel Peace prize. I felt blinded by gratitude and tears. Trust me, I never had this feeling when I was writing legal briefs establishing limited jurisdiction.
I don’t have to lie. I don’t have to hold my breath. I don’t have to force myself to go somewhere I don’t want to go to be with people who diminish, bore, or irritate me while I smile and try to fit into the distorted menagerie. I no longer have to kill a thousand trees journaling my sorrows.
Now of course, no accountant in the world would look at this as an airtight business plan. But, I’ll tell you, this unpredictable wonder keeps me plugged in to something more precious than control. It’s a jolt of recognition, a knowing that there’s a brilliant energy, invisible yet palpable. I may not always feel as though I’m standing on solid ground. That’s okay. The way I see it-- I’m on a magic carpet ride.
Recently, I led a five day retreat and stayed up late with some of the participants, screaming with laughter. My stomach muscles ached. I almost spit out my lemongrass tea. We were loud and ridiculous and having more fun than monkeys. The thought crossed my mind: I would pay any amount of money for this feeling. And I’m getting paid for this.
Don’t get me wrong. I love making money. But money is no longer the source of my freedom and power. For me, it’s this spiritual journey. Love takes you places. And on a practical level, you discover that there are a thousand and one ways to achieve things and that you always get what you really need. But now you don’t need to deny yourself. You need to become yourself.
Each of us has our own chemistry. What’s right for me, may not be right for you. But here’s what’s always right. It’s always more secure to listen to your heart than to ignore it. There’s a reason you have your desires. They are the portals to new powers. You may think it’s better to be “realistic.” I’d suggest it might be better to experience a new reality.
You deserve to be happy and to pay your bills. May your bottom line and your highest good be the best of friends.
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