Most of us don’t relish change. The Persian mystic poet Rumi says that if you asked an embryo why he or she remains scrunched in the dark “with eyes closed” this is the answer you would hear: “There is no ‘other world.’ I only know what I’ve experienced.”
There is no other world. We have all sung this dirge in one form or another. There is no love for me outside this loveless marriage. There is no money for me beyond this draining career. There is no way to have things fall together now, because if they were supposed to come together they would have; I must be riding on a rickshaw while everyone else caught the plane.
It takes enormous courage to believe that things can be different. Or that there is a life beyond what you can see or even imagine—or a you—that is whole and inspired.
“There is no other world,” says your fear. And to this I say, with great deference to your pain: Poppycock—whatever that actually means.
Because change is always what’s for dinner. Buddha said that all suffering stems from trying to hold on to your chocolate mousse. Well, he didn’t say that. He said we try to make things permanent. The nature of reality is fluid. Real life cracks open, breathes, disintegrates, and expands. It always expands, even when we feel like things are stuck or going in the wrong direction.
Life is designed to shimmy. We are designed to let go of our lobster shells and grow into new ones.
Your true happiness does not come from a stable stock market, a feast of jobs or potential relationships, or climate control. It’s about learning how to thrive in the times when you lack control.
Boys and girls, we live in dynamic times. And we are dynamos. We are dynamos being roused into our powers.
“The voice of eternity within us demands to be heard,” says the philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, “and to make a hearing for itself it makes use of the loud voice of affliction, and when, by the aid of affliction, all irrelevant voices are brought to silence, it can be heard.” That’s a high-class way of saying that pain can awaken you to your Big Picture Life and the only relevant voice there is: your True Self.
You are not the erratic conditions of this moment. You are a powerhouse. You are a continuous force of evolution. You are a phenomenon, a surprise even to yourself. An inspired life is more than the life you planned. This is the nature of thriving. There is an orchestration, a calculation, sometimes an ambush, yet always an intelligence fueling the “chaos.”
I never imagined that my life could get so out of control. But I found myself sitting at a beach in Northern California, staring at waves, thinking about taking my own life. I couldn’t bear to practice law for one more day. And I could not let myself quit. Just the week before, I couldn’t summon my usually ferocious willpower and write the brief in front of me. There was some other will going on now.
I was so tired. Fighting myself all the time. I hate this job. You have to stay in this job. The boxing match that never ended. I thought I was being practical. I thought I was being strong. I look back now, years later, and realize I was fighting against a tidal wave. I was pushing back the hunger to live my full expression—and the most amazing awakening that has ever happened to me. I was resisting my True Life.
I came home from California a mess. A few weeks later, I walked out of my career without a plan or a viable source of income. It was an end and a beginning. Years later, now in a life where I have taught so many others to awaken their inspired lives, I can’t imagine that I could have ever chosen another life, a life that denied my creativity, my essence, my life’s purpose and the wildest happiness I’ve ever known. But I tried to hold on to what I knew at the time. We all do.
We all have a True Life, the life that does not look like our plans, yet perhaps arises from a deeper wisdom within. This other intelligence sweeps past our conditioning and defies our expectations of how things should go. This life brings us to surrender or acceptance even when we do not yet understand what’s going on. This life brings us to the truth of our bones. The True Life always prevails. The soul’s desires are formidable.
I have seen brilliant transformations in people who have faced addictions, health issues, or the death of a loved one. I have seen these shifts in those who seek to express their life’s work or experience true love. Whatever the situation, the shift is always the same: You can’t do what you’ve always done, and then over time you can do what you’ve never done. And always in the end, you have touched the eternal within you. You wouldn’t go back for anything.
This is the gift of uncertain times. Know that it’s a strength to be undoing that which no longer works for you, yes, even when you think it does. Undoing is progress, not mayhem….
A mother doesn’t have to understand or even trust the birth process to give birth. Your next expression wants to be born. Great and mighty forces marshal their strength around you. It’s your time. You’re uncovering a new way to breathe and feel safe in the world, even though you can’t imagine it. Change may wear a wolf suit. Still, don’t be fooled. It’s wild, abundant magic come knocking on your door.
Excerpted from Thriving Through Uncertainty: Moving Beyond Fear of the Unknown and Making Change Work for You (TarcherPerigree-Penguin-Randomhouse). Copyright © 2018 by Tama Kieves. Used with permission.