Committing to a new way of being
I spent much of 20s and early 30s achievement chasing. With every accreditation I was awarded and every new job I strove for, I was laying bricks for a future where work, miraculously, fulfilled me. I focused on toughing it out now, to enjoy it later.
Well, later has arrived, and while money has come, the miraculous fulfilment has not. Rather than my work filling me up and sustaining me, my work often leaves me feeling empty and exhausted. It seems that all of that striving and toughing it out, was not laying any bricks at all. It was patching holes and distracting me from my real work, the work to understand who I am and where I can make my richest contribution to the world.
Over the years, my heart has whispered, or even yelled at times. Anxiety and exhaustion have been constants in my work life. Last year, I started thinking about how to live my life differently. To be and live more and to stress less. Being in that space was uncomfortable and painful. I hated being in the muck of the unknown. I wanted an answer that I could action and move forward with my life.
Relief came in the form of a new job. “Change is as good as a holiday”, I reasoned. While I felt significant anxiety about taking the job, I accepted it and threw myself into the distracting work of leaning a new role. As the same anxiety and exhaustion has come up in the new role, I am finally ready to do the work. I am dropping to my knees. I am ready to let go of the wheel. To stop all the doing and making and driving. I am ready to surrender.
Trina Paulus’ most delightful, Hope for the Flowers, supports my resolve to live life differently. It is the story of a caterpillar named Stipe, who comes across a pile of caterpillars climbing on top of each other with the ambition to get high. Thinking that if everyone is doing it, there must be something great at the top, Stripe begins to climb. As his climb continues, he begins to question whether it is really that great at the top. He meets Yellow, a fellow caterpillar and the two decide to listen to the voices in their hearts, climb down from the pile and do something different. For a time they both enjoy doing nothing. Then Stripe feels he must return to the pile and try again to get to the top. He re-enters. Meanwhile, Yellow does not re-enter the pile. She knows that “somehow waiting and not being sure was better than action she couldn’t believe in”. Yellow waits and is inspired to spin a cocoon and undergoes the metamorphosis to a butterfly.
I am Stripe climbing the pile for a second time with the true knowing that there is something better than this. I am ready to sit in the pain of turmoil and listen for the inspiration. This is the beginning of the journey. I don’t know how I will get through this or what is on the other side. But I am ready to find out. I am ready to wait.
In the coming days, weeks, months, years or for however long it takes, I am going to share my journey here. I hope that my story may help garner the courage of others who feel equally disconnected from what their true contribution may be. I am also documenting the journey so as to keep myself accountable to it. I am less likely to run towards comfort if I know I have to come back and document that flee. So, here we are at the beginning. Ready to wait.