It’s taken me a few weeks to figure out what I wanted to say in this post. Though I’ve written daily I couldn’t see this post going anywhere meaningful. Everything I’ve published so far makes me doubt whether or not these resonate with people or if I’m a loony for saying these things in public. Still though, I trust the following will take me where I want to go:
“If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you” – Jesus Christ
So I’ve been attending some group coaching sessions in San Francisco for about a month, now. Not quite group therapy, but something pretty close. At the beginning of class one day our instructor asked why we showed up. Some people said curiosity, but he wouldn’t take that for an answer. We wanted things like peace of mind, ease, and more control over our decisions. I said I wanted to help people be at peace with themselves. What I probably wanted more though, was to be at peace with myself.
I was in the right place; people in this room were ready to get real. At the end of class I asked him, half-jokingly, whether or not the rest of us in the class had things that we could work on. We met eyes, he gave me a questioning look as if to see if I was ready to take on what I was about to hear. Being curious, and a little nervous at the same time, I nodded yes. I could handle another assignment, having something else I could “work on,” but I wasn’t expecting what he actually told me:
“Rolando: your problem is that you have no problem. There’s no more hoops for you to jump through. You’re already as lovable as you could ever possibly be. There’s no more books, courses, teachers or coaches that can help you anymore. ”
As I left that session I was feeling slightly overwhelmed by the prospect of not having some sort of authority to guide me.
The next day, I spent a long time reflecting over the past few years, wondering what changes I had made. I’ve been wrestling with this idea: balancing self-acceptance with forward motion. This concept felt elusive, and I came to realize I’ve been chasing my own tail. I’ve been able to do a number of things to “improve” myself as a person. I won’t brag about what I’ve done too much here, but I’ll share one recent goal I’m pretty proud I met: as of yesterday (August 23rd, 2013), I’ve gone an entire year without missing a day of practicing meditation. It does feel pretty damn good to say that. And yet, I hardly ever stopped to give myself a sincere thank you for having done these things.
Finally I came to a realization that I can’t really think my way into accepting myself. And yes – “finally” means about two weeks ago now. There’s no more mental gymnastics I could do to prove to myself that I’m worthy of my own love. What I had not been able to do is sit myself in front of a mirror and say “I love you.” And so I tried it: I sat myself down in front of a mirror to see what would happen. My inner cynic thought this probably wouldn’t work, that there were still trials for me to go through. Fortunately, I was in for a surprise:
In front of the mirror I think we can see who we were as kids, who we are now, and who we aspire to be, all at the same time. Each stage being perfect the way it is; none of them seems like a “work in progress”. Our hearts soften knowing that this is the same person that used to pee in his/her diapers. This person has a unique set of gifts and qualities that add flavor to the world. And some day, this person will pass away, leaving some legacy, story, and people sorry to see that person go. That vision of who I want to be remembered as, is what I think inspires me the most. But as I move in the direction of that goal I have to remember one important piece of wisdom:
“Never confuse yourself by visions of an entire lifetime all at once…” – Marcus Aurelius from Meditations
What wasn’t fully clicking in my head before was that I would always see myself as a work in progress. I know I’m not alone in this – everyone has ideals of where they’d like to be. But that need to move forward can become the single priority. In my own experience, when “not enough” is my primary drive, not enough is what I get in turn. I could just keep setting up new hoops for myself: a new good habit (my personal favorite hoop), a better job, whatever it might be. But that’s not the experience I’m after. What I’m after is really right in front of me, in the mirror, every day.
So just try it. If you’ve been really driven for some time now to do big things, why not stop for a sec to really look in the mirror. Thank yourself for who you are and what you’ve done. Don’t take my word for it, though. Why not try being your own authority?
Thanks for reading!