Monday, May 31, 2010

True North: Finding Your Center and Staying on Your Path


Recently, I've been reminded of the grace that surrounds us all. The grace I speak of is that idea that all is in its place within the universe - that we all need not try so hard, push so hard, worry so much. It's the reassurance that we are where we need to be right now. And, right now is all that matters.

Many of us yearn for things, for situations - a new car or a better job, for example. They need not be greedy desires, but rather like everyday wishes for what we see as an improvement in our circumstances. We sometimes push ourselves into situations that we think would make our lives easier and better. [Though we know that "things" don't make life better, don't we? But, that's another topic for another post.] At times it's good to wander out of our comfort zones, to achieve new things and experience new things. But there is a balance. And we need to be reminded, every so often, that we should be gentle and patient with ourselves and with others. This is that reminder.

We are all, even the strongest and most accomplished of us, human beings. Human beings with moments of fear and doubt. Let's pledge to ourselves to try our best not to reside in fear, and to be more accepting of our own shortcomings and those of our fellow men and women, and to remember that with perseverance and love, anything is possible. I am reminded of the words of Hazrat Inayat Khan, Sufi leader and classical Indian musician, who said, "I have seen all souls as my soul, and realized my soul as the soul of all."

This grace that I speak of is difficult to define... for me, it is the absence of pushing. It's active participation in the moments of life. It's the reinforcement, joy and connectivity that come from allowing yourself to simply "be"; by relaxing, being present, and experiencing life to the fullest with those closest. It feels a bit like magic. I think that maybe it comes from living as honestly as one can. This encompasses many things, such as not hiding from difficult situations, self-reflections, or confrontations, but rather dealing with them head on. And, it also comes from taking risks, experiencing new situations (even scary ones), not shying away from the spotlight, and reaching for your future. All of this is done very organically, meeting opportunities as they arise (again, not pushing). I have a few friends who have taken on big endeavors recently, but who, when met with large goals simply relaxed, were themselves, persevered and didn't let fear get in their way (you know who you are). I am amazed often at the courage and strength I see in the people around me. It's a lovely thing to witness people who allow their light to shine.

By way of my own example of these ideas I've been pondering... well - those of you who have followed this blog know that I have been looking for a new professional career path since leaving my corporate fashion apparel job over a year ago. During that time, I have traveled through Europe and also taken a trip through the Southern US. I have turned down opportunities that felt suppressive and those where I thought I wouldn't be treated the way I know I must be - with dignity and respect. A few colleagues told me I was crazy to spend time and money traveling when I had no real job. And, they thought I should take the first thing that came along and be glad for it; conform myself to fit the needs of any organization that would have me. I wondered if that wasn't the ole "misery loves company" adage rearing its ugly head.

Well, I couldn't go down what I knew to be the wrong path for myself, it just wasn't in me. I had learned too much, come too far, and worked too hard. Oh, I had my moments of doubt as to what the "right" path for me was, but I was accepting of the fact that that no role need be forever and adamant that my next role would be one that was fun, interesting, rooted in trust and respect, and allowed me to contribute my talents while growing professionally. I'm very lucky to have a husband who supports me 100%.

I'm happy to share with you, that I have found a great position within a very good company with talented, professional people. I have the opportunity to use the skills and knowledge I've acquired over the years in a more creative capacity (yay!). The career path adventure I've been on for the last 14 months is working out just fine. Not only that, it's working out much better than it would if I had succumbed to fear and doubt or tried to make something happen before its time. And this development all came about simply by my "showing up" - what I mean by this is by doing the honest work of knowing what type of projects/positions I did and didn't want, pursuing the things that felt right for me, doing research, reaching out to colleagues, and - most importantly - being myself. I didn't push, I went down paths that opened up to me.

I shall close with a prayer that I think has bearing on the ideas in this post. You've all heard it. "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and (perhaps most importantly) the wisdom to know the difference."

Religious aspects aside, we could all - each and every one of us - benefit from remembering that life is short, and though it's sometimes very difficult, it's also filled with the sweetest joy. Much of what we experience in life is up to us. There are no wrong choices, only opportunities to learn.