Remember that self-doubt is as self-centered as self-inflation. Your obligation is to reach as deeply as you can and offer your unique and authentic gifts as bravely and beautifully as you’re able.
~Bill Plotkin, Nature and the Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World
The doors to the world of the wild Self are few but precious. If you have a deep scar, that is a door, if you have an old, old story, that is a door. If you love the sky and the water so much you almost cannot bear it, that is a door. If you yearn for a deeper life, a full life, a sane life, that is a door.
~Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype
Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk in love and reverence.
~Henry David Thoreau
Your problem is how you are going to spend this one and precious life you have been issued…Whether you’re going to spend it trying to look good and creating the illusion that you have power over circumstances, or whether you are going to taste it, enjoy it and find out the truth about who you are.
Throughout the centuries, people have posed the questions “What am I doing here?” and “What is the meaning of life?” These are, of course, big and almost impossibly profound questions that usually lead us nowhere. But the older we get, the more urgent they seem to become.
There’s a wonderful teaching by Jelaluddin Rumi, the thirteenth century Sufi poet, which can help us see what we’re missing:
There is one thing in this world you must never forget to do. Human being come into this world to do particular work. That work is their purpose, and each is specific to the person. If you forget everything else and not this, there’s nothing to worry about. If you remember everything else and forget your true work, then you will have done nothing with your life.
Rumi goes on to explain that the raw material we are given through birth is an incredibly precious material that can be formed into anything at all. “It’s a golden bowl,” he says, “which is being used to cook turnips, when one filing from the bowl could buy a hundred suitable pots.” We’re using what we’ve been given for a far lesser function than its true capacity. We think we are being good, productive citizens because we are cooking up a storm in our bowl, but we’re not seeing what the bowl really is and what food that bowl could provide us if we knew how to look at it differently.
So there is one thing in the world, according to Rumi’s teaching, that must not be forgotten. Continue reading
What we reach for may be different, but what makes us reach is the same.
~Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening
No matter how much you cry, the tears will dry. No matter how many nightmares, flashbacks, visions, or terrors you endure, they will pass. To weather these in order to find your true self and the happiness you deserve, that is not a risk. To waste the time you have in this body, never showing your soul to yourself or anyone else, living in fearful misery – that is really the most dangerous thing you can do.
For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.
~Eric Roth, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button screenplay
Every year I live I am more convinced that the waste of life lies in the love we have not given, the powers we have not used, the selfish prudence that will risk nothing, and which shirking pain, misses happiness as well. No one ever yet was the poorer in the long run for having once in a lifetime “let out all the length of all the reins.”
There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.
A prayer for being brave and open on the journey of life…
Drum sounds rise on the air,
and with them, my heart.
A voice inside the beat says,
I know you are tired,
This is the way.
May you listen to the voice within the beat even when you are tired. When you feel yourself breaking down, may you break open instead. May every experience in life be a door that opens your heart, expands your understanding, and leads you to freedom. If you are weary, may you be aroused by passion and purpose. If you are blameful and bitter, may you be sweetened by hope and humor. If you are frightened, may you be emboldened by a big consciousness far wiser than your fear. If you are lonely, may you find love, may you find friendship. If you are lost, may you understand that we are all lost, and still we are guided—by strange angels and sleeping giants, by our better and kinder natures, by the vibrant voice within the beat. May you follow that voice, for This is the way—the hero’s journey, the life worth living, the reason we are here.
~Elizabeth Lesser, Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow
I had a great idea for a new book, although come to think of it, maybe it is just a Facebook post. But it would be called Pre First Draft, and address the way we suit up and show up to be writers, artists, and general tribal-two-stomp creative types.
I think it would begin with an admonition: if you used to love writing, painting, dancing, singing, whatever, but you stopped doing it when you had kids or began a strenuous career, then you have to ask yourself if you are okay about not doing it anymore.
If you always dreamed of writing a novel or a memoir, and you used to love to write, and were pretty good at it, will it break your heart if it turns out you never got around to it? If you wake up one day at eighty, will you feel nonchalant that something always took precedence over a daily commitment to discovering your creative spirit?
If not—if this very thought fills you with regret—then what are you waiting for?
Back in the days when I had writing students, they used to spend half their time explaining to me why it was too hard to get around to writing every day, but how once this or that happens—they retired, or their last kid moved out—they could get to work.
I use to say very nicely, “That’s very nice; but it’s a total crock. Continue reading