The other day I was catching up with a friend about all of the crazy shit that’s been going on in our lives lately. She, transitioning into the fall season with work in full swing, mom to a young toddler, wife, new home-owner…all of the realities of a beautiful life. Me, having just returned from coaching certification which was by far one of the most poignantly beautiful moments of my life, whiplashed by the reality that I am broke and jobless. We were both in the middle of dealing with some big stuff and this moment of connection was a chance to say “hey, I see you, I love you, you got this”. It was at this point that she said something I thought was so profound, and really had been a turning point for me in my own life. She said that she was wondering which parts of her experience were being done to her by something outside of herself (job, family, society, etc), and which parts she was doing to herself?
How much of this anger, fear, frustration, anxiety…(really, I could go on, and each one of us could fill in the blank for our own experience)…is being done TO us? How much of it do we do to ourselves?
This is a tipping point question. It is a deepening with oneself that opens up new possibilities. This is the stuff that gets me excited. For years I had lived my life in ways that felt a little wrong. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something just didn’t feel right. It started when I took on my first teaching position about fifteen years ago. I just didn’t feel right and thought maybe it was because of the position. So, after two years, I left that post and took on another one that I thought would be a better fit for me. Again, that feeling of something not being right returned and I started looking for the thing that would make everything turn out right. It must be over there in THAT position, I thought, and after four years left that job for another newer, shinier model. Now, I had to have it right, I thought. Good school district, leading a great orchestra program, in a beautiful town in one of the most beautiful corners of the world. But that feeling of unease returned. Only this time it was gathering strength. I could only describe it as feeling like a square peg and I was forcing myself through a round hole.
I had done what so many of us do. Trying to make all of the external factors match my idea of what would make me happy. It’s a pretty typical tactic, but here’s where I broke free of it.
I let go. I let go of trying to be what I thought I was supposed to be and decided to embrace who I truly am. I stopped looking at those others out there and trying to put on their amazing-ness as my own. I decided that at 38 it was time to love my own amazing-ness. I started being my own best friend and advocate first. And that is when I started to discover joy. A true, inner well-spring that is mine to access at any time…regardless of the outer circumstances.
How did I get there? That, I believe, is another post altogether. But I’ll tell you one thing. I’m so grateful for my daily meditation practice. I know this is a process I’m still in, and may always be in…but I believe this has impacted me the most. In the words of Victor Frakl, “between stimulus and resonse, there is a space. In the space there is the power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” It’s not that I don’t feel irritated or anxious or whatever anymore. It’s that I notice it and I’m not as attached to it. I can let it go, and that feels pretty frickin’ liberating.
Maybe my new question will be: How much of this am I doing to myself, How much of this is being done to me, and How much of this can I let go of?
May you all find your way along your path, in ways that make sense for you and bring you more into aliveness within yourself. Namaste, humans…and lots of love.