Sunday, May 12, 2019

Well, I never...maybe you should!

"Well, I never!" 

Anyone else remember this? A simple indignant response to all things considered irreverent and falling outside the lines we were trained to color within. It showed disdain, shock, and was generally a good litmus test for knowing whether or not the words coming out of your mouth were acceptable in polite society...

But I don’t want talk about societal norms or what passes for respectability these days. I’ll leave politics to the politicians (all a farce anyways). I'd much rather spend my time contemplating why so many of us have held on tightly to these three simple words and avoided living a life a little less encumbered and with a more unbridled spirit. Tenacity is a trait to embrace, not retreat from.

And sadly, I think I have embodied a more risk averse nature for most of my adult life. I spent a lot of time “never” doing or acting on things that were too risky or not socially acceptable in certain circles. For example, I avoided the “f” bomb until I turned 50 (and have been making up for lost times ever since J). And now I find a few raised eyebrows in mixed response is to get over it! I did.

I can’t tell you exactly what changed for me. It became less about what others thought and more about what I believed. I’ve gone through a transformation of sorts. It’s kind of personal and I’d hate to have it lumped into a mid-life crisis or some other trendy ethereal journey that throws me in a new circle of “enlightened” people. I’m not a joiner and don’t plan to start now.

But I have changed. It was so subtle and yet so profound. It’s changed the way I look at everything. I woke up one day and I could not “unsee” what had suddenly become transparent to me. 

I no longer include the word “never” in my vocabulary. It has no place in my world. I live in a world where anything is possible and everything is always on the table for consideration (as it should have been all along).

I’ve always been a seeker of wisdom and information…the difference now is that I seek information from a different perspective. I accept the possibility that nothing is as it has appeared to me in the past. And deconstructing is just as important as reconstructing. It determines the starting point and sets the tone for all that follows.

My journey is a sort of reverse bucket list. Instead of focusing on all the things I’d love to embrace and do, I’m taking inventory of another bucket list that has taken on a lot more water and filled up more quickly than the selective stainless version that is reserved for skydiving and giving a Ted talk before I die. This bucket is well worn and rusty. It’s been kicked, thrown, and discarded more than once. It’s the face of denial...the part of me that wants to hide my head in the sand rather than face a critical decision. It’s a utilitarian tool that no longer has a purpose in my life. It’s become obsolete and I’ve replaced it with a more authentic symbol…one that wears its contents as a badge of honor instead of shame.  Here’s why….

For every experience in life that begins with resistance to change or denial that a certain reality has come upon us…hell, for anything in life that we say we will “never” do…time has a way of mocking us and proving us wrong. Time and time again, I have been reminded that there are no boundaries that cannot be encroached upon in this life. Part of our learning is to know how to embrace all the things we swore we’d never face.

I’ve been on a journey over the past few years. It’s funny because this particular awakening has occurred at a time in my life when I finally stopped running at breakneck speed. I learned that standing still allowed parts of myself to catch up and consider who I am without fear of acknowledging who I will never be.  

I have a bucket list. It’s not the kind you talk about, but I have no shame in looking at it and sharing the contents. It’s filled with life lessons and irony. Its filled with a life of nevers, maybes, and some days…and most of all, it contains the secret to success (at least for me). That roadmap is as they say “paved with good intentions.” But progress only came when I abandoned my gps and went off the grid with my own intuition and gut instead of worrying about what was considered acceptable.

If I ever forget where I’ve been or worry too much about where I’m headed, I will sit with the knowledge that the only thing that matters is where I am right now…and a willingness to continue on in whatever direction I choose to take.

People ask me sometimes what success looks like to me…the longer I live, the answer becomes clearer and easier to answer. Success looks exactly like my life is right now. Because it’s not about all the things I haven’t done; it has everything to do with what I’m already doing. It’s a constant vibration of energy just below the surface that continues to propel me forward in the direction of happiness…and if it meets the definition of success as well, that’s just a bonus. Forget the bucket list. Kick it now!