What darkness did you conquer?
I suppose you could view being human as both a blessing and curse. We’re here on this earth experiencing all the challenges and wonder and uncertainties alongside all the other living creatures, yet we’re different. We were given this extraordinary ability to ask “Why?” We search for meaning in the chaos. It’s an ability that has the potential to both inspire and destroy us. It’s a heavy load to lift–to question one’s existence and search for greater meaning. And it’s an immense responsibility to do something about it, to follow a path of purpose once we recognize it stretching out in front of us.
I think we spend a lot of time not trusting ourselves, second-guessing our choices, worrying over the what-if’s instead of appreciating the journey. There’s a lot to learn from our bad decisions, from the detours we’re forced to take in pursuit of our goals. And there are times when what we thought was the “right” path doesn’t even scratch the surface of our potential.
I think a lot of people get tripped up thinking there is only value in setting and achieving lofty, long-term goals. We end up measuring our value as humans and the quality of our lives by our ability to compete with others–to do bigger, better things than someone else. The side effect of this is that we miss out on the wonderful experiences and the small victories right in front of us. We start living for the future, focusing our time and energy on things that may never happen, while the very real and fleeting present moment passes us by. We start measuring ourselves and our self-worth by someone else’s standards.
It’s hard to live in the now because, frankly, the now isn’t always a great place to be. Maybe you’re stuck in an abusive relationship. Maybe you’re struggling to pay your bills. Maybe you’re battling an illness. Maybe you just lost someone you love. Maybe you’re stuck in a job you hate with a tyrant of a boss who takes credit when things go right, shifts blame when things go wrong, and thinks repeatedly telling rape jokes is funny.
Yeah, the present can fucking suck sometimes.
But it’s all we’ve really got, isn’t it? Life gives no guarantees. Life doesn’t even promise the next moment, so how do we keep deluding ourselves that it’s going to promise us next week, next year, or even the next item on our endless To-Do lists?
Maybe some people feel like that’s a pretty grim worldview. I don’t. I think it’s the most powerful move a person can make–to learn how to live in the present moment, to learn how to navigate and appreciate moments as they come instead of ignoring them to obsess over a future that doesn’t even really exist (and may never come).
So, it’s our burden and our blessing to be here now and to make the very best of it. And yes, it can be hard, but it can be beautiful too. And what I’ve discovered is that the good moments, the really magical moments, far outnumber the bad ones. We live in a world and on a planet built for growth. The default design is for us to continuously evolve, to move and grow along a positive trajectory in such a way that even the challenges and setbacks we face serve to propel us forward.
All we have to do is hold on and learn to appreciate the ride.
“Learning is change”
I love that statement. I love that it’s true. Learning changes everything. It changes your day, your perspective, your stance, your biases, your vision of the future. It erases the limits of your worldview.
Learning is change, and it’s what we’re here on this earth to do. What else could possibly be the point of all this?
Every situation, every connection, every moment that we live and breathe and exist on this earth is an opportunity for learning. Shit…just thinking about it makes my head spin. What an incredible gift! The unfortunate part is most people are too caught up in the daily drama to recognize the opportunities as they come along. We’re just too damn busy to see them.
We’ve got to give ourselves time to think. We’ve got to give ourselves room to breathe.
We’ve got to carve out the space we need to let ourselves sit with those moments and dig into the learning.
If life is smothering you, make a change. If you feel trapped, start looking for a way out. If you feel miserable at your job, look for another one. If you feel neglected or used by your friends, find a new group.
Humans are not meant to stand still. Our lives shouldn’t be stagnant. We shouldn’t be barely brushing up against the limits of our potential–we should be busting through the barriers every chance we get, constantly questioning what we know (what we think we know), actively seeking opportunities to learn and grow and evolve.
Humans have limitless potential. Look at all we’ve done. Look at how far we’ve come, the amazing things we can already do. This is only the beginning. We haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of our potential. If we could stop fighting with each other, even for a moment, we would be utterly astounded by the things we could do.
My God, there is so much more than this. If we could just get out of our own way.
So it has to start small. It starts with you–one day, one decision, one person, one learning moment, one change at a time.
You know, I’d like to have a nice, long (probably expletive-filled) conversation with the first person who ever decided that failure is a bad thing–something to be embarrassed about, something to try and avoid at all costs and never, ever admit to.
I mean seriously, what the hell?
How have we deluded ourselves into thinking only perfection is acceptable, that perfection exists at all? When did we decided to start ignoring the process, to discount all the valuable things we learn when we make mistakes and miss the mark?
I’ve got a newsflash for you folks–nobody ever does it exactly right the first time.
And the only way to ever get it right is to figure out how NOT to do it wrong.
It’s hard though, to admit that we’re not 100% in control of our lives, especially now, living in our social media bubble where we’re constantly bombarded with everyone’s best moments.
It’s hard to own our mistakes and share our struggles when all we see are highlight reels.
But it’s the struggles that give life flavor, that make us strong. It’s the challenges we face that create us and define us and shape us into the people we will eventually become.
We have the potential to do incredible things, to make the world an amazing place, if we can muster up enough courage to try knowing that we’re going to miss the mark a few (maybe a few hundred) times.
We’ve got to experiment and fail and learn and repeat. Every. Single. Day.
So get out there and own your life. Try new things. Surround yourself with people who are going to lift you up and cheer you on and help you find the way.
You got this.