If you could wake up tomorrow having gained one new quality or ability, what would it be? Last weekend my friend and I were asking each other a few questions from Arthur Aron’s 36 questions and this was one. I thought about it, and replied, “I’d be fearless.”
If I were fearless then I would truly accomplish anything I envision. I wouldn’t be bogged down by fear of making mistakes or fear of failure. I wouldn’t be concerned about what others might think and how embarrassed I might be if it doesn’t work. I wouldn’t worry, as I often do, about the consequences to my life if it does work. It wouldn’t even occur to me that my idea might not come to fruition. I’d just make it happen.
I know I have a long way to go before I can say that I am fearless. I am starting on the path, though, by noticing and practicing the art of not judging my experiences as good or bad. I was catching up with an old friend a few days ago and I was sharing some things that are going on in my life and in the lives of those I love. We were interrupted when I received a call from someone who needed to have a serious conversation. There were decisions to be weighed and what seemed like the next step was not one I had been looking forward to taking. My friend said, “I don’t know how you handle it all.” But I actually felt quite calm myself. Because although I had been hoping to not have to take the next step, I also recognized that it might be the best move I’d ever made. I felt released from judging it as good or bad and this took away my fear. I don’t know where this will lead so I choose to have faith that the long-term outcome will be wonderful.
In one of my favorite books, Happy for No Reason, Marci Shimoff retells an ancient Chinese story. Basically, a farmer’s only horse that was used to till his fields, ran away. The farmer’s neighbors sympathized over this bad luck and the farmer shrugged his shoulders and replied, “Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?” A week later the horse returned with a herd of wild mares and this time the neighbors congratulated the farmer on his good luck to which he replied,”Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?” When the farmer’s son was attempting to tame one of the wild horses, he fell off and broke his leg. Everyone agreed it was bad luck but the farmer once again replied,” Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?” A week later the army marched into the village and drafted every young man except the farmer’s son, with his broken leg. Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?
Having 20/20 hindsight from previous experiences helps me wait out the outcome for newer experiences, without assuming the worst. I try to even be careful about how I speak so that I’m not wallowing for too long in the land of “This sucks” and can move more quickly to the land of “Okay, so what’s going right, It’s not as bad as it could be, Is there any action I can take right now to make me feel empowered, and What’s something positive that can come out of this?”
As I reflect back on the realities of 2017 and the anticipation of 2018, I’ve learned that it would make no sense for me to judge life experiences. Towards the start of 2017, my two older children were in college, thriving academically. That seemed Good, right? But each of them was suffering from different physical ailments that would have gotten worse had they stayed in college. Their decisions to leave school to focus on their health felt Devastating to me at the time but I realize now was Necessary. They also realized afterwards that now that they had space from their majors, other areas of interest were better paths for them. They are now more Enlightened about their futures and have more Clarity. They each live so far away. That felt Terrible to me at first but now I see how they are in places that are helping them thrive in a way that living closer to home would not, so now I am Grateful.
I also started 2017 with a plan for a new part-time professional pathway that will enhance the full-time career I love. What I didn’t anticipate was that something else would come along into my life that fulfilled me more than my initial plans gave room for. At first, I was Disappointed in myself for veering from my agenda, but then I realized that it was Smart for me to make room for something that fills me with joy, even if I don’t know how it will affect my professional growth.
As I look to 2018, I am really excited and also at peace. I am so much less scared of the unknown now that I am becoming liberated from judging what happens in my life. I am looking for the opportunities in what is presented to me and I have faith that my mindset will find the gifts and lessons in my different experiences. I truly hope to become less scared of being fearless.
You’ll know that I have reached a state of total fearlessness when you see me up on stage either singing, acting, or playing guitar really well as a cool rocker chick, while I’m also motivating others as I sign my very popular book for them, and drinking tropical drinks on the island I’m remotely life-coaching from that week.
May your 2018 be filled with experiences that are neither good nor bad but instead offer you gifts and gratitude. May you have the courage to be open to the unknown, having faith that you can create the life you desire by the responses you choose. May you be able to find the lessons from each experience so that it further enriches your life. May your days be filled with purpose, as you define it, and may you really enjoy playing the game of life, without worrying about winning or losing.