Of course there is no formula for success except, perhaps, an unconditional acceptance of life and what it brings.~Arthur Rubinstein
I’ve spent a great deal of my life trying to figure out what I should do next, determining where I stand in relation to those around me, creating a harsh comparison between where I am and where I should be.
In these moments of contemplation, I’ve always found a way to diminish the beauty of where I stand today. What is out there always seems a little brighter, a little more impressive than what already surrounds me.
And this way of thinking and interacting with the world plants the belief that action is king — action is the only way to change and change is the only way from point A to point B.
But what if you’re supposed to stay at point A for a little while?
When I was a kid, my family would take long road trips. We were from the Midwest, so in order to get anywhere the drive was at least six hours. But we were ambitious. Six hours was a weekend trip.
We were more interested in traveling to Detroit (a 13-hour trip) or Seattle (a 22-hour drive). When you pack five people in a car for that long, there are bound to be issues, and one of those was the radio.
Since my father drove most of the time, we were at his mercy when it came to the music. Or more often, I should say, the silence. While we were a musical family, my father would insist on turning off the radio every hour or so, just “to hear myself think,” as he said.
We would whine and complain.
“It’s just so boooooring without anything to listen to,” we’d say.
Fast forward decades later, and I suddenly find myself turning off the stereo at home, while I’m working or driving. This is odd for me — I consider myself an audiophile.
Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.~Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Monday came around, and I was bouncing off the walls. I couldn’t get any work done; I was so distracted. I had been waiting for this day for what seemed like ages: My husband would finally be home from a week-long business trip. Yeah, it may be cute, but it also showed me that I am no good at waiting.
Of course, I knew this. And I don’t think I’m the only one. Just look at everyone frustrated in their automobiles when traffic doesn’t move at the speed they want. When I wait for the bus, I rarely sit more than a few moments before I pull out my phone to check the schedule because it’s taking “forever.”
Patience is something that’s been pulling at my heart strings for a while now. “Don’t you think we should get to know each other a little better?” it would ask. For years I’ve stubbornly pretended I couldn’t hear, but it (of course) waited patiently until I was ready.
People who urge you to be realistic generally want you to accept their version of reality.~Unknown
With my multiple streams of income drying up one by one and no light of opportunity on the horizon, I was quickly losing faith in my ability to create a sustainable life as a writer. The long stretches of nothing to do were cementing my career-driven depression, and I was beginning to feel completely disconnected from my purpose.
I was incredibly insecure about my lack of forward movement, so I attempted to avoid conversations that brought up the topic of careers.
Then one day, a family gathering prompted a conversation about a local retail store that was considered to be a great place to work. One well-meaning but somewhat brash family member turned to me and said, “Why don’t you at least try to get a job there?”
I felt as if someone had just pummeled me in the stomach.
The passport to living is to imagine yourself in your grave. Imagine you’re lying in your coffin … Now look at your problems from that viewpoint. Changes everything, doesn’t it?~Anthony de Mello
After weeks of plans falling through and unexpected circumstances arising at every turn, we came back together with a wall already formed. Some of the unrest was voiced, some of it was simply felt by the palpable anger we had allowed to grow between us.
We skirted around the issues by avoiding each other, making sure to plan our schedules so that we could sit alone in the frustration we both felt for very different reasons.
After a lengthy relationship, this wasn’t the first time we had encountered problems — problems of miscommunication, unmet expectations, etc., etc., etc. — but this bump in the road was starting to make me feel as if our relationship had an expiration date.
Freedom is instantaneous the moment we accept things as they are.~Karen Maezen Miller
This morning, as I absentmindedly watched the news while returning hoards of neglected emails and tweeting like mad, a story about anxiety caught my attention.
According to the story, anxiety has become the “most common of psychological complaints,” affecting three in 10 Americans on a regular basis.
The man featured in the story had been racked with anxiety for years, spurred, he believes, by the traumatic experience of attending college and compounding every year since.
For him it almost ruined his relationship with his now-wife and continues to disrupt both his sleeping and waking life every day.
This is typical line of thought for him:
“I am anxious. The anxiety makes it impossible to concentrate. Because it is impossible to concentrate, I will make an unforgivable mistake at work. Because I will make an unforgivable mistake at work, I will be fired. Because I will be fired, I will not be able to pay my rent…”
Reading it now, it sounds like madness. None of it makes any logical sense, yet I recognize the thought pattern.
You are very powerful, provided you know how powerful you are.~Yogi Bhajan
At the age of 12, after a rigorous audition and interview process, I was accepted into a local art school. While I had taken art classes nearly all my life, I wasn’t entirely convinced that I had talent that could even come close to the artists that this particular school churned out year after year.
I thought that receiving the acceptance letter might be validation enough to convince me that I was capable of doing what I had set out to do — that I had enough natural talent, and now all I needed was specialized instruction.
Instruction, it turns out, wasn’t what I needed. Confidence was.
The least initial deviation from the truth is multiplied later a thousandfold.~Aristotle
I must have heard it delivered a thousand different ways: Honesty is the best policy.
Precisely because I heard it a thousand times, I tended to associate the saying with less significance. It’s like hearing your mom tell you, “Put your coat on or you’ll catch a cold!”
Looking back, it seems I spent a lifetime wasting so much energy putting out fires because I lost sight of what was most important. Being true to myself was a concept — a nice idea for others, but not for me. I didn’t have that luxury. I had way too much on my plate.