Add value; subtract doubt.

Be authentic.  There is no time for shallow pretense and self-obsessed insecurity if we’re ever going to get anywhere.  This is about integrity: courage, truth and honor in all their many forms.

It is said that our true value lies in being ourselves.  I can’t think of a better way to put it.  Make your self known.  The universe needs you to complete the puzzle. You, exactly the way you are.  You are not doing it wrong.  You may have work to do to get to where you’re going, that’s fine – we all do.  Just remember always to give yourself permission to exist, to be perfectly whole in your strengths and flaws.

Allow your inner voice to speak through consistent action.  Take a chance and give yourself a break, and always leave room to be imperfect.  We are supposed to make mistakes and to fail ungracefully from time to time, because we need the lessons and the world needs examples.

Trust the plan.

Growth takes time, and it arrives quietly.  Don’t waste your time questioning it or doubting the gift.  Be valuable right now, in each of your challenges and in all of your work.

Triumph

It isn’t always some Rocky Balboa 3rd round knockout punch, your chest swelling in victorious pride as you’re hoisted on the shoulders of your loved ones, raising your fists in the air to the frenzied cheers of the uproarious crowd.  Sometimes it’s more like throwing your arm over the top and weakly dragging yourself past the crest of an impossibly cruel and rugged peak with your last ounce of strength, collapsing and tumbling down the other side where you land crumpled in a battered ragdoll heap covered in dust and sweat and blood, shaking and gasping ragged throatfuls of thick hot air as your body shuts down in defense and you lie there for days while your muscles and bones slowly mend just enough for you to come about and struggle to your feet, wander blindly in the first direction your momentum takes you until you fall to the ground in fatigue to crawl the last yards of your ruthless journey, being saved only by the mercy of a stranger who finds you at their door and takes pity, drags you inside and nurses you back to health with soup and prayer, mopping the sweat from your fevered, trembling brow.

Sometimes that’s what success looks like.

Ask the questions.  Listen and watch for the answers.  Take chances.  Believe in your dreams.  Follow your heart.  Live your life.

Trust & believe

The search for calling, for purpose, is an inside out effort by its very nature.  The sensation of something missing, the craving and obsession to go out into the world in search of our fate and destiny, is possibly the most misinterpreted impulse we possess.

Why must we strike out on our own into the blinding light of the unknown?  What is it that makes some of us feel that there is an ever-present wind blowing at our backs urging us to move out, away, in some form of pilgrimage while yet others are compelled to remain in the safety of the familiar, trading the pains of acclimation for the acceptance of atrophied ambition.  And which, on balance, is the greater sacrifice?

Time Machine

As a doer, a problem-solver by nature with an inquisitive mind and a compulsion to be in near-constant action, I’ve spent much of my life reacting to my feelings as though they were problems that needed to be solved; imperfections that must be altered in some way or disposed of as quickly as possible. Any negative emotion is met with “What do I need to do? How do I get rid of this, this part of me that is wrong,” and their positive counterparts with “How do I make this even better, how do I make it last forever or increase the intensity?” Rarely have I been able to simply experience a feeling and let it flow on its own timetable and of its own accord.

What I am finding as I continue to learn and grow through my spiritual journey is that a much greater challenge lies in the art of stillness.  Developing non-reactivity as a conditioned response is a tremendous task.

Much of the information available to us in modern society serves to reinforce this idea that every thought, every feeling or impulse, requires a response. There is no emphasis placed on living in the moment, because in this moment your life is imperfect for lack of the next thing: the new toy, the bigger house, the better life. We must be more alert, get more results, run faster, train harder, lose more weight, be more attractive, drive more luxurious cars, wear nicer clothes, smile whiter, be better, bigger, more, more, more.  And we must do it immediately.

Most of the emotional pain, the discomfort or dis-ease, that I have known stems from or is compounded by the reactive nature of perception.  I experience an event, and then I begin the process of translating it through the lens of my subjective response.  The primary experience is captured in an instant, but by the time any true perceptual cognition takes place the moment has passed. I am always living, in effect, in the past. Trapped in time, the emotive mechanism races to catch up but is forever trailing, scrambling like a kid who’s late for the bus: arms flailing, hair askew, backpack jerking wildly at the straps with each bound toward the impossible accordion door.

In this mode I am hardly capable of living in harmony with my emotional condition. I am never truly present, standing captive in a state of spiritual latency.

And all the while it is as if there is a part of me that knows it. The urgent claustrophobia, the fantasy of cinematic rectification, the compulsion to spring into action and affect immediate change: all symptoms of this dysphoric delusion of the possibility of control. I convince myself that I, the great and mythical “I”, must be the one to resolve the melody. I must work harder, make greater attempts, exert more willful pressure and ultimately conquer this unjust disparity.

Time moves onward and I am evolved of my ideas by way of experience. Evolution, however, is not a strictly linear process. The immediacy of offending defects may prompt a course of action resulting in the subversion of acute symptomatic manifestation, but in the meantime there are subtle layers of viral adaptation occurring beneath the surface.  New and resilient strains of manipulative reactivity are conceived, bubbling to the surface in the forms of subtle self-deception, insatiability, tendencies toward distraction, apathy and procrastination, and all manner of fear-based self-obsession. The very idea that force of will could diffuse the delusion is a redundancy in and of itself.

And we come, ultimately, full circle.  Perhaps that is the true nature of personal spiritual evolution.  Not a direct progression from one state to the next, but a series of concentric circles.  A venn diagram wherein progress is defined not in the abolition of one mode in favor of another, but in the clarification of relationships between behaviors, thoughts, attitudes and beliefs.  Discovering the intersections where they occur and paying as much specific attention to these as to the areas of exclusion.

In spirit and character, as in art, negative space holds equal power to positive.  We learn of ourselves by what we see, and what we do not.