Every time I commence a change in my life I receive it as a marker. Something uncertain and new but awesome. Uncertainty means that there is always a blank canvas in front of me, but each new chapter creates a frame. I can arrange life only to a certain extent because it constantly happens around me. Lately, and especially throughout this pandemic, I view this new “normal” as a chance to start anew, change or improve. I also want to see it as a chance to truly take notice of what is happening. A friend of mine usually says, “Today, I will give you some food for thought”.
I might not be able to control events or the outcome of my efforts, but I can put myself in the world and take note of what I learn along the way. I learned to hold plans lightly and to pay attention to what’s on the periphery. The plans for myself can lead me astray because sometimes I don’t really know if I want something until I try it. I am not afraid to experiment with something and change course if it is not for me. Taking action is more important than figuring out what is the right decision. Obviously, it can be helpful to survey the options available but it is when I get caught up in determining which is the “right” decision I can get stuck. Even with hindsight, it is impossible to trace my current life back to one specific choice or opportunity. With this in mind, I rather focus on the process than the outcome of my decisions.
I don’t believe in the parameters people make for me. When I sent out the draft for my first book it got rejected about a million times. But I don’t believe when people tell me I am “not cut out” for or capable of something. Instead of taking their advice or so-called insight at face value, I test the parameters. I went on to write more articles and essays and experimented with my creativity.
I say what I want. I tell people to get to the point. To talk slower or louder. I tell people that they look great and are beautiful. I ask people if they walk the walk instead of talk the talk. I tell them to stop complaining. Also, to stop whining (about anything, really). I tell them to ignore what others think.
I notice when I am caught up with a fantasy. When it comes to failure, be it of a relationship, marriage or a work opportunity, often what stings the most is the loss of a hoped-for future, which can quickly become a lingering obsession or fantasy. My head can say “it was for the best” but my heart can keep me stuck in the past. I learned not to miss what is here for me now. I stopped chasing a ghost a long time ago by focusing on what my current day contains. I am simply neither ahead, nor behind. I am where I am meant to be. And, even more important, the more I do what I want, the less likely I am to compare. I let comparison or envy be a guide for what I most want, and then create that for myself in my own way.
I see what I haven’t done yet as a possibility, but not as a failure. Years ago, I had this inner dialogue that I was incomplete because my to-do list was incomplete. At some point, this just became overwhelming and ridiculous, so now I simply see how everything on my list is a possibility.
There will be ebbs and flows in my days and my career but I have to see the beauty in a plateau. I am very fortunate to have this job, especially in Corona-times. There will be times when I am winning and times I am losing. Simple as that. And I believe nobody really knows what they are doing in this game called life. Everybody has sleepless nights, dull days, abandoned projects, experiences rejections, and battles with self-doubt. Nobody and nothing is perfect. Ever. In the words of Leonard Cohen, “There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”
There is no such thing as balance, only balancing individual moments. Again, life is movement, not a perfect or stagnant balance. Rather than striving for balance, I work on mastering the art of balancing, which allows for more flux and change in any given moment.
Wrapping this all up, keep in mind that you will never get “there”, and that is a wonderful thing. What does “there” even mean? The problem with goals is that it is easy and tempting to keep moving the goalpost. But, I learned that I never arrive in life. Things will always shift beneath my feet. Life will always throw another curveball. Just duck in time when it flies in your direction so you don’t get hit. And if you do, get up and keep moving forward.
Last, but maybe most importantly is love. Love is complicated. It can be fantastic. Obsessional. Love can bring worry, love can bring hurt, love can be challenging, love can be lost, love can be rejected, love can be unrequited. And I know I should love for all those reasons and more. Because love has a lightness. These sweet moments of delight.
All we can do is to learn, learn from our mistakes, from our successes, from others, from what we have kept with us and what we have let go. Figure out what you want. Say it loud. Then shut up, listen, and wait.
If it’s not funny, you don’t have to laugh.