As I stood under the eaves and waited for the dog to relieve herself in the dark, cold rain, I realized something. I’ve been trying to hard. While there is no doubt that there are many areas of my life in which I could do more and try harder, I wasn’t thinking of that kind of perseverance. This trying-too-hard isn’t visible in the tangible, physical sense. This trying-too-hard is mental and done within the space between my ears. It is attitude, pure and simple, and it is my attitude that often makes me feel miserable.
Before I had time to really sit with this thought and write it out, I checked e-mails and found this quote at the end of a post over at Kindovermatter.com. JoAnn Rothman writes,
“Stop thinking about what you are meant to do and start thinking about what you want to do. That is the way to live your purpose. “
Apparently, other people struggle with the same issue. I’ve been so focused on what I thought I had to do, or should do, or what other people expect me to do, that I haven’t spent time trying to determine what I want to do. It isn’t a lack of awareness. It is my inability to give myself permission to do what I want.
It feels selfish, maybe even frivolous. Work has a purpose, one that is given it by the boss, overlord, chief puppet master, parent, co-worker, husband. (Feel free to insert the name or title of any authority figure here _____________.) Some one or something defines my purpose for me because I have allowed them to do so.
The cost of this has been huge. Control is outside of me, not within me. Satisfaction is dependent upon others. No smile, no recognition, no applause and I feel empty and unloved. I am always failing. I am afraid to want something for myself in fear of not being able to attain it or achieve it. The idea of losing what I want has seemed more painful than trying to find it, define it and then reach for it. Notice the word, idea. I was afraid of an idea, a concept, something intangible, something to which I had invested great power, something I had imagined to exist. I gave my power away without ever bothering to use it.
I follow a false god of powerlessness, obedience, of passivity. It has not been fulfilling. It is the reason I often feel empty at the end of the day or the week. I feel like I’m being pulled through the day, through my life without my consent. I wake up feeling a sense of foreboding because I dread what assignments might be given me in the day ahead, assignments that have no heart or soul in them, assignments that are not my own.
This new idea forming in my head, of personal power and self direction is intimidating. In my mind, I see myself, a child cowering before it. The “it” personal power and self-direction is so overwhelming a concept that I see it only as a brilliant light towering high above me. I shield my eyes and assume a semi-fetal position. I can not look at it directly. It is my burning bush, the “I am who am.” Obviously, this is the reason, I’ve scurried away from it so many times in the past.
It may sound like I’m advocating mutiny, if not for others than at least for myself. Life will never been about doing everything and anything I want. I still have people to which I will be accountable and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’ll still have to listen to my boss if I want to keep my job. There will still be laws and morals to guide me. My burning bush won’t assign me a life as prophet or as leader of a great nation. All I hope to achieve is a gradual shift in perception. I hope to begin to really inhabit my life, to become the person making the choices and not the obedient and unwilling victim.
I’ve been letting others write my story for me. It’s time I begin to write my own.
(I’ve posted the current draft of my recent short story on a separate page on this blog. To access that page, click on the link in the band at the top of this page: Goodnight Moon–short story.)