At the starting point of my adult life I was prepped by what I was told was the basis for success. The definition: big office in the corner with windows on both sides and power to fire anyone who threatened to knock me off the top of the hill.
Consequently, the fact that I enjoyed my work and really was good at it, became secondary to the ambition to climb to the loftiest perch on the pecking order. The notion that the recognition I craved was attainable by allowing the work to speak for itself, did not occur to me; it was too fraught with risk.
I might be overlooked. I would have to withstand criticism from those with different viewpoints than mine and make compromises rather than having things my way. What would happen if I was firm in what I believed in and valued the integrity of the process… and was overruled by the cadre in control. I would be a loser.
That is life when you don’t trust yourself, when everything is a competition and you must come in first, when every day is lived in a constant state of angst. Living with the fear of not becoming the “success” you were primed to achieve makes you wary of a dreaded event waiting around every corner; good vibrations so unbearable you create the end game rather than torture yourself as you wait for the inevitable other shoe ready to drop.
For me it meant becoming more concerned with having power to wield rather than the person to be. I was constantly on the offence lest it be revealed that underneath the bristle was the dreaded realization, not good enough.
Halfway through life I came to realize I had to liberate myself from the expectations and be true to myself. I began to understand that I would lose some relationships because of the change but the people who stayed would love and respect me more. And then, the miracle: the discovery that who I am has always been good enough.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do –
determined to save
the only life you could save.
Excerpt from The Journey” by Mary Oliver
This is the moment when Peter, Paul and Mary sing Kumbaya, a wonderful moment indeed. But is not the end of the post or the journey. I would be disingenuous if I did not mention the empty hours when my self-realization is nothing more than a pipe dream, an illusion created by hypnotic music and fragrant incense that creates a sacred space I rent by the timer on my phone and do not really occupy.
But that too, is a part of the process, the learning part. I hold firm to the commitment, the passage of time and the reassuring axiom, practice not revelation takes us to the promise.