The person withering in their death bed was a pale shadow of their former self. Once, they had been golden, and brilliant and a magnet for lovers, one of the most respected individuals in their field, living in a magnificent house surrounded by honors and wealth.
I was honored to be considered a friend intimate enough to be there at that critical moment. Elderly now, this amazing human being was drained and tired and felt spent.
“I wonder if anything I’ve done matters” they said. “If I ever did anything at all. If anyone will remember me.”
I felt so warm and loving toward them. Once upon a time, I’d have been shocked. How could they, with all the honors and wealth and accomplishment and fame, have any doubt at all they mattered..?
Because the very drive that made them excellent is a voice that says: “better. Better. It’s not good enough. Better. Better.”
Every martial artist knows this. The better you get, the more flaws in your performance you can see. Better. Better.
Every writer knows it. Every writer has read at least 10X as much as they’ve written, so that their editing/evaluating self is ALWAYS stronger than the performing self. Better. Better.
Every parent knows it. We just want to be the best for our kids. We love them so much our hearts ache, and are terrified that we might let them down. Better. Better.
Every lover knows it. Our sweethearts mean the world to us. Every day, I thank God that Tananarive trusted me with her heart, and re-commit to being the very best for her. Better. Better.
We need that voice. It drives us through complacency. Screw “being better than other people.” Focus on being better than you were yesterday. Do that, and almost incidentally, you’ll out-perform most folks. Or better still, focus on using the largest percentage of whatever capacity you have: THAT can be improved daily, until the moment you die.
To protect ourselves from The Voice, and from the chorus of nay-sayers, we develop healthy ego walls, the “Yes I can!” sense. At its healthiest, this is the Buddha Baby “Earth Below, Heaven Above, no one in the world like me!” energy, that howl that announces a new life and presence.
Watch out! I’m here!
But when our energy flags, it is hard to maintain this, and the doubt seeps in, like sewage backing into a weak stream. It is inevitable that this happen. Only the very strongest, purest, most focused can resist it.
But for most of our lives, the answer is simply to take pride in the fact that every day you get up and try again.
Writing is re-writing. Fill the blank page.
Parenting isn’t hard…it is just “daily.”
“You can stay fit as you get older…it just takes a little more to motivate yourself every year.”
The thousand mile road. How do you motivate yourself? By focusing on the outcome. The thing you want.
And WHY you want it. And those reasons must ultimately connect with your core sense of being, and the love you have for the child you were when you began the journey of life. That child’s dreams can so easily feed into your current adult life. ANY honorable profession can be an expression of your love of service, self-expression, or simply providing for those you love. As soon as you are doing things for such reasons, you need to find a way to embrace the journey, such that the days, the efforts, the moments have value in and of themselves: no one is promised tomorrow.
Should you have gone further? Done more? That urgent voice is valuable: BUT NOT IF IT DENIES HOW FAR YOU’VE COME.
No matter how far and how fast you run, you are always the same distance from the horizon. This is why you have to BOTH keep moving…and pause and enjoy the territory around you. “Stop and smell the roses.”
Some are blessed to find grace in their lives just by the process of living. Others much specifically practice mindfulness, centeredness, connecting with their hearts and deep selves.
Loving yourself, deeply, knowing that at every moment of your life you have done the best you could with the resources you had…is valuable beyond words. Speaking as lovingly (but firmly!) to yourself as you would your own most beloved child. Or beloved spouse.
This is why the first two steps of the Five Steps for awakened living are so critical: Love yourself, and Love One Other Person.
They are the beginning of living a healthy life as an Awakened Adult human being, the doorway to BOTH performing highly AND having a deep acceptance that there is no destination. Just…the journey.
(If you would like to explore the implications of seeking a healthy life, with healthy intimate relationships, please join us for the FREE web course in February: www.soulmateprocess.com)