Almost a month ago I took a leap of faith and turned my attention to a project that, although I had known about it for a year an didn't want to do, changed my mind about and decided to pursue at the 11th hour. I put almost everything aside that wasn't absolutely essential, and focused solely on this project, not knowing whether I would accomplish it or not within the deadline (which is this week). Have you ever done anything like that? Focus your energy on pursuing something you'd really like, just to see what would happen?
I highly recommend it it. Why? What would be the point of doing something, especially if there was no guarantee of results? For me, it became an amazing roller coaster ride. I didn't have to wait for the carnival to come to town because once I committed to actually being on the ride of following a crazy whim til the end (and believe me there were moments when I really wanted to get off), I came alive in a way that I don't experience when I know how the likelihood of the outcome.
The adventure factor of daily living went way up; I forged ahead with moments of excitement as I worked to create something new. And yes, that would often be followed by moments of discouragement. My thoughts went from "yes, I can do this" to "no, this is impossible - I'm going to stop". But I became curious to see how it would all unfold. I could have stopped at any time - there was really nothing at stake. I just wanted to see if I could do something on a whim that involved a big stretch and I'd feel great about accomplishing, but it would be just fine if I didn't. I wouldn't lose money, no one would get hurt, my reputation wouldn't get tarnished.
The only "risk" was the one that involved experimenting with how I often give credence to habitual (negative) mental chatter and resist uncomfortable feelings. So, instead of trying to do something about either of them when they arose, I let it all be okay: I let myself think the thoughts and feel the feelings, but didn't get involved in the story line. I didn't judge them or judge myself for having them. I became an observer to my mental and emotional comings and goings - not a participant. I discovered what was possible when I didn't feed them with my attention. I had other things to do - like get this project finished! I found I could thumb my nose at all that internal storytelling and say, "so what?" to it. Miraculously, I could take the next step and everything was just fine. Better than fine. I made progress!
Why did this work? What I keep experiencing at deeper and deeper levels is that we aren't our thoughts and feelings, or even what happens to us. Who we are at our deepest level is the ground upon which all thoughts and feelings and events occur. It's built into our human design that with everything that happens to us, thoughts and feelings will come and go, and will become more entrenched depending on how much we believe in their validity. What happens when we start to question the stories we tell ourselves around what we can and can't do, who we are or aren't? That deeper creative intelligence inside all of us emerges with the courage and hope and vision to take the next step in what it is we want to create in our world.
This is what's on offer for all of us: a new level of aliveness and a greater willingness to take risks. The range of highs and lows become an exhilarating challenge, like diving into a pool even when we don't know how it will feel when our bodies hit the water. We want to know. We realize it's safe to find out because we know we're made to meet the challenges of life. We become willing to risk the potential discomfort of diving into the unknown because we want the experience of finding out for ourselves.
Maybe we start small, with just a whim, like mine. I don't know whether I'll be able to finish my project by the deadline, or even if I do, whether the outcome will be what I hope for. But what I do know is that the more we see about what's possible for us, the more we can attempt.