They used to say, “follow your dreams”, “fulfil your destiny”, “achieve your life’s purpose”, “listen to your heart’s true desire”, “follow your passion”, and I never knew what the hell they meant.
So I compromised and settled for less than what was possible and worked in jobs where I felt half-alive and so, so far from the wonder of existence. Life and creativity and adventure and passion wanted to burst out of me, but I had no idea how to facilitate or release them, and besides, I was too terrified to unleash these energies lest they disrupt the status quo too much… or destroyed me completely.
I said to myself, “a life of adventure is not possible for little old me. I’m too introverted, too afraid, too weak, too ugly, not intelligent enough, not brave enough…”
I comforted myself with spiritual concepts like ‘there is no choice’, ‘all is One’, and ‘everything is predestined’ and lived each day waiting for the evenings, the ‘remains of the day’, when I could breathe again and be authentically myself for a few brief moments.
What was my destiny? What did my heart really want? What was my life’s purpose? Where was my passion? I didn’t know where to begin. Everyone else seemed to have answers, and I had none. What was wrong with me?
I felt numb and bored in my jobs, but at least I felt safe. I was hiding from possibility but at least money was coming in. I ‘fit in’, and I had a solid story about myself that I could regurgitate in polite conversation. But there was no risk in it. I was half dead, and only in my twenties. I often thought of suicide. At least then I’d feel alive, if only for a few moments.
What to do with this one precious, fleeting gift of life? That is the question. To be, or not to be, or to be but only half-heatedly, living out of the ‘shoulds’ of others?
And the answer is simple, because life is short. Do whatever makes you feel passionately alive. Find a way – however much you have to struggle at first – of making a living from truly living. Honour your unique talents and abilities. Do what moves you and connects you to the deepest truth of yourself. Trust prosperity and passion over profit and comfort and the approval of others, because all the approval in the world is empty if it is for something your heart was never really in.
Breaking out of the known can be terrifying, and you may lose what you thought was yours, and your trusted images of yourself may melt in the fire of newness, and you may face fear and trembling, uncertainty and doubt, rejection and even ridicule. You may have to learn the hard way to open yourself up to more pain and life may become more uncomfortable than ever… that is, until you fall in love with the deep comfort of insecurity, and the security of doing what makes life worth living.
You will be swimming in the unknown, but you will be vast and alive. You will feel life running through your veins once again – as it did when you were young and you hadn’t yet settled for a life of compromise and clock watching and justifications for your quiet desperation – and you will channel this aliveness back into creation, and the cycle of prosperity will keep flowing, and yes, you may even make a good living, better than expected.
But however much money you make, or don’t make, you will be making a unique contribution to the world, doing something that nobody else can do, at least not in the same way as you, creating something original and fresh, giving something back to life, honouring your total uniqueness and your own talents, and so you won’t feel second hand, a slave to others, a piece of wood, and a deep trust of life may replace your fears of failure and poverty, and your cynicism and jealousy of others may die completely.
Sometimes you will doubt what you are doing, and you may romanticise the old days when things were easier and more predictable, but then you will suddenly remember that the old way was false and never worked for you and that’s why everything had to change.
Yes, it’s a risk to donate your life to what you love and what moves you and brings you joy, but I can only speak from experience and say that it’s absolutely worth it, because having a comfortable and predictable life pales in comparison to feeling deeply, passionately alive and meeting each new day with fresh eyes and an open heart.
If, many years ago, someone had told me that one day I’d be travelling the world, holding meetings and retreats, speaking my intimate truth in front of people I’d never met before, having published several books which had been translated into several languages, I would have laughed out loud – perhaps in disbelief, or perhaps out of the fear of the overwhelming vastness of life’s possibilities.
Honour this life that is trying to express itself in and as and through you. You are not nearly as limited as you may have been led to believe by those who have not yet come alive.