While I'm being honest, I have to admit that there are a lot of ways in which I've been living with one foot out. I limited the scope of my life and choices by refusing to get my drivers license until a few years ago. I've given up on passions as soon as the demand to excel pushes me beyond where I'm comfortable because of a deep fear of failure. When you completely invest and immerse yourself in something, it is obvious to anyone how much you care, and in my mind that caring can be a source of weakness, a chink in the armor that can be exploited. If you happen to not succeed, then everyone will know. They will see you fail. This is a crippling idea if you're like me and failure is (admittedly, illogically) a source of terrible shame. Rather than risk this pain, I have consistently chosen to shrink away from challenge and play small.
In theory, I actually love failure. I've been reading about the benefits of failure for years and watching inspirational speeches from the likes of Oprah and Steve Jobs, who both failed only to go on to not burst into flames but to succeed spectacularly in other ways. Zen Buddhism teaches me not to get too attached to the way anything is ever because it's all going to change. What is a disappointment now will transform into a sparkling blessing later. What I'm celebrating now will flicker and fade, or present unforeseen challenges in the future. We simply don't know what It Is yet, so don't get too excited. Just receive it, say "Yes, thank you!" no matter what it looks like, and keep moving. Someday I might really take this in. For now, the instinctual reaction is to have my parachute on hand, ready to bail at the first sign of trouble.
Peeling back another layer, the more frightening possibility is that I might actually succeed. Imagine! Imagine being a big, bright, wild success! Oh lawd! Then what? Then the failures become bigger and more visible. The more successful people become, the more the general public seems to relish their failure. The $3 billion celebrity gossip industry stands as proof of the public's rabid, voyeuristic interest in watching other people struggle. Scanning the comment section of pretty much anything on the internet (which isn't advisable) reveals how much cruelty people are capable of unleashing on each other. It can be a mean world out there.
Years ago I had happenstance meetings with two different psychics while on a trip to Washington DC. They both sized me up incisively, concluding that I was hiding who I was...which was true. It took a long time to admit, because admitting it meant confronting the shame which had kept me hiding away. When you carry a story of shame and unworthiness, of course you don't want anyone to see you. I spent much of my life feeling like an ugly duckling bad girl misfit alien. Despite this, though, I was a performer from a very early age. The need to be seen clearly and honestly was always there, fighting the shame for dominance and demanding attention. This is a very human condition- it's the reason why theatre departments are so often filled with ugly duckling bad girl/boy misfit aliens. We feel the fear of vulnerability but we put it all out there anyway because our humanity demands visibility. Here I am. Do you see me?
A month ago, I decided that I would move to New York and threw a bit of energy in that direction just to see what would happen. To my delight and total terror, I experienced an opening like I haven't in a very long time. Yogi Bhajan has a bit about manifesting that has been resonating so much lately: "The Raj Yogi's presence performs her miracle. Others have to act and perform and do all kinds of things. But this is the path of the Queen. It is not the path of the slave. Just feel your presence is acting; therefore you have not to act." I did extend my will in a easterly direction, but just barely compared to how much effort I've exerted trying to make other things happen. And yet, like a long overdue exhale, my life began to move very naturally and obviously by the hand of God and there was nothing to do but buy the one way ticket and go for it.
This was a highly vulnerable, bold commitment for me to make, a sign of a turn in the tide of my life. As I approached my 30th birthday, I began to feel the straining limitation of allowing so many important choices to be guided by fear. I had already grappled with my mortality, but had not considered that I might actually live for a very long time and that I had better think about what I might want the rest of my life to contain. The conclusion? No matter what I choose, there is no way forward unless I learn to go all in. No holding back. No parachute. No hiding. I want it to be okay for me to be seen caring enough about something to pursue it far beyond where I'm comfortable, to the point of failure, or even wild success. I want you to know how important this life is to me, how much I really do care. I want to live with both feet in, boldly committed to every moment.
Feel the fear and do it anyway. Never regret your boldness. It is better to have bought the one way ticket to a new life and limped home a failure than to not go and always wonder...
Buy the ticket. Take or quit the job. Fail or succeed. Have the baby. Say I Love You. Ask the question. Speak the truth. Allow yourself to be seen.
Give expression to whatever desire stirs within you and believe in your ability to fulfill it. We are here to fulfill the desires of our sacred hearts. We are worthy of this. In fact, it is our one and only job here.
Let's get to work.