Life is a Verb Thursday is a weekly meme that I have chosen to do this summer after being inspired by Patti Digh's book. Last week I was forced to look at myself in the mirror and rather than bemoan the fact that I was "trying to find" my voice - realize that I do have a voice and I need to instead decide what I want to say.
While I think the "search for my voice" is a life-long pursuit and I do not have a pat answer ready to give, I do think that at this point in my life my primary message is this: we all have more choices than we realize. Oftentimes we do not have the choice in what life hands us (an unexpected miscarriage or the loss of a job), but we always have a choice in how we will respond to that particular situation.
Reaction vs Response. One is immediate, subjective in nature, emotionally driven, out of our control, and often counter productive. The other is deliberate, objective, thoughtful, restrained, and often beneficial to mind, body and soul. The majority of my life prior to turning fifty was spent in a reactionary state. I hope to spend the remaining years in response mode.
This week's topic can be summed up in that simple phrase: Leap of Faith. The author began this section with a childhood anecdote. We all remember first grade recess and congregating on the school playground. Some of us went to the swings, some to the see-saw, some more adventuresome types played on the jungle gym, and the most daring of all raced to the monkey bars.
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Do you remember the first time you tried to go across the monkey bars? Climbing up the steps to the bars was a piece of cake, and reaching up to grab hold of the first bar was not the challenge. In fact, I would often stretch as far as I could to try to grab hold of the second bar right off the bat, because that gave me the edge of being that much closer to the other side. No, the challenge was letting go with one hand, twisting your body in mid-air, and grabbing the next rung before strength gave out and you fell to your doom. In hindsight this does not seem like that big of a deal - I mean, what is the worst that can happen? But I distinctly remember my imagination taking over and I was afraid that I would break an arm, or a leg, or at the very least be the butt of classroom jokes for the afternoon. Letting go of that bar can be a very courageous thing to do.
So here is the meditation for this week:
Today - not tomorrow - is the day to jump...I'm talking jump, not "bungee" or "fall," the latter an accident, toe other a deliberate and conscious leap. If you make gravity your friend, falling after a jump is some kind of validation, not failure. Jumping isn't the same as falling, no. We fall all the time, subject to forces outside us (we think, we rationalize, we blame). Oddly, most times we fall by not jumping. Today is the day to surprise gravity, let go of the monkey bars, fling....fling....(bold my own added effect. found on page 139 of the intuition section)
I remember a book I read several years ago now that continues to prove profound for me. It was Dale Carnegie's classic, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. To sum up that entire book in one sentence, I learned this: in any given situation ask yourself, 'What is the worse that can happen?' Now you are prepared. Very rarely does the worse ever happen, and even if it does, it can no longer catch you off guard. This has helped me to learn to think more rationally, which also helps me to respond rather than react.