| 7 Apr 2008 @ 16:11, by David Bartholomew|
[excerpted from DoingIt!, March, 2004]
When I am in the doldrums or don’t know what I might want to do on a particular day or night, I often go for a drive to see if I can jar something loose. On these jaunts I get to any given intersection and just feel whether I should go left, right or straight… and I see where that takes me. Many times this has led to a fun, surprising payoff.
Today I was in one of those moods and the stakes seemed higher than usual. This has been a week of deep processing and soul-searching and I was really pleading to be thrown a bone-- some sign that I am on the right track… toward getting me home fulltime, toward whatever. You could say I’d been having Monday morning thoughts… all week… and was ready to take some action toward shifting them.
The road diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.
-- Robert Frost
When choosing between two evils,
I always like to try
the one I’ve never tried before.
-- Mae West
As I reached an intersection I was aware that my choice was now worded-- to turn in whatever direction felt the most fearful. As a metaphor this was valuable. I wasn’t in actual fear of anything in Sherman Oaks, California. To my know-ledge no assailant has stormed out of a Valley mini-mall yogurt shop or nail salon and assailed a passerby of-late.
Since I have always had an innate sense that we can only work toward and through our fears, as opposed to stuffing or avoiding the tough stuff, this new way of looking at my drive was not exactly an epiphany. Risk, change, doubt, the unknown, all have inevitably yielded great things for me once I could look back at them, having assessed their meaning and their necessity in facilitating my growth.
What was the “a-ha” moment of this particular ride-- in one of those, “I know this but now I am really getting it,” kinds of ways-- was the realization that I could also turn in whatever direction might yield the most joy. Duh! This caused me to look at how I choose to live out my rites of passage of personal growth.
When Joan introduced me to the Gwyneth Paltrow movie “Sliding Doors” a couple of years back it unfolded as a fable with the moral: we inevitably get where we need to be, and different choices along the way will serendipitously bring us to the same crossroads. We saw Gwyneth separate into separate Gwyneth lives and later re-converge based on the effects of making/missing a particular train. In both cases the outcome (I won’t ruin the story with further details) brought her to the same essential place.
I love this idea that we cannot fail in our lives, that the game is rigged in our favor, that we are allowed and encouraged …by God/Spirit… to explore the consequences of different choices, within a universe/environment/ play where it is (eventually discovered to be) safe to do so. This is what life is!
[P.S. As a sidebar, it might be mentioned that the spiritually arrogant who would judge and try to manipulate the choices, options and plays of others… are missing this point entirely.]
For as long as I can remember, I have played with this concept of a life to play with in ongoing X.I.L’s—or eXperiments In Living. Something occurs to me as a possible theory, way of being or look behind the curtain of the great Wizard of Oz… and I run with it, see where it takes me.
By the choices and acts of our lives,
we create the person that we are
and the faces that we wear
By the choices and acts of our lives
we give to the world
wherein our lives are lived,
hoping that our neighbors will find
our contributions to be of worth,
and hoping that the world will be a little
more gracious for our time in it.
-- Kenneth Potter
So here I was—driving; looking at whether to turn into fear or joy; remembering Gwyneth; and it hit me: I have lived with the serious intention of burning through my fear so I can eventually experience joy, awakening, enlightenment (your term here).
I have been fine with this. I mostly enjoy this ride such as it is. But today I really saw that: my little philosophy includes the words “serious”, “intention”, “burning” and “fear”… all before I get to… the “joy”; and it explains why people always think I am so serious and intense, and often have to remind me to smile more.
In my defense it’s not all that cut-and-dried, and not everyone finds me to be that big of a stick in the mud. But if I am going to end up at the same place along the line anyway… and since I find myself getting a bit tired of a bit of the intensity, processing of past emotions, etc…. why not take a different tack?
Joan and I regularly come face to face with the fact that it is easier for us to go deep and intense than joyful and playful, so why not stretch those lighter muscles more? Instead of stripping away junk in order to be happy, why not allow more happiness to help clear away the junk? Why not play more with the opposites of “there’s not enough time”, “duty” and “obligation” as defining points of being a good, intentional person?
Playing with the opposite of my self-imposed “typecasting” looks like lightening up for me. Playing with yours might look, well, just the opposite! But I believe the operative word here is… play.
My drive led me to a library and I immediately tested this new theorum of a new X.I.L. by first journaling a bit until I really felt I had a grasp on it, and then scrapping my to-do list for the day and finding some avenues for play.
The long and short of it all is--
you know you’re DoingIt!… if you’re enjoying the ride, wherever it leads you.