Sunday, September 3, 2017

I want to, I would, but.

Here is a picture of old,
safe habits, and fear of the unknown. 
In 2014, Jim Carrey gave the commencement address at Maharishi University of Management. 

The speech was hilarious in places but took a sudden, poignant turn when Carrey described the fear of failure that keeps us from what we want, but won't prevent us from "failing at what we don't want." 

"As far as I can tell, it’s just about letting the universe know what you want and working toward it, while letting go of how it comes to pass. 

Your job is not to figure out how it’s going to happen for you, but to open the door in your head. And when the door opens in real life? 

Just walk through it."

We know more than we think we do. Somewhere in the tangle of craving change, we know what we want.  

We know.

We might erect our own barriers – put change out of reach – but it's in there, what you would do if those barriers came down.

It might not be easy to make the changes you know you should. You might have to put it off. You might have to plan it out. But it might be most uncomfortable, because:

You don't not know what to do.

You do know. 

If you are a millennial in a job that you don't love with no idea of what you would love, you do know, even if it might disappoint your parents and won't pay as well.

If you are a married person  in a troubled relationship and don't know how your life would be better, you do know, even if you hate the idea of standing up for your needs.  

If you are a new college student who can't stop fearing the unknown enough to settle, and don't know what to do about it, you do know, even if you'll have to risk social discomfort to get there.

If you are a  harried parent who has over-scheduled your life to the point of exhaustion and don't know how to back up and recalculate, you do know, even if you have to learn to say no a lot more than you do now.  

At the start of summer, I drafted a new book in my head. I couldn't wait to sit and write it out. With every day, I imagined character traits and plot points and this one, I knew, could sing with plot.

At the start of August, I had yet to draft it. 

I would like to think I don't know why, but I do. I've been ducking it because I'm afraid that after I take a year or more to write it, it will be rejected, and the only thing worse than rejection is feeling like it was inevitable the whole time you were wasting your time. 

Bringing this goal from my head to the page has predictably, churned up old mixed feelings about working on something with only the possibility of fruition, and distant fruition at that.  

But I'm opening the door in my head. For now, I'm allowing that to be enough. I am going to stop saying "I don't know," when I mean "it's too hard." I am going to break the habit of choosing certainty over possibility. 

If for you, change would be doable but for the uncertainty and difficulty of it, think about changing that.  

Some things to remember while you are thinking about changing that   
  • You know what you want. You do. 
  • If you've been trying and not getting what you want, you haven't failed. You just haven't gotten what you want yet. 
  • Ask yourself what the first step is. Spend a lot of time  planning how you'll do that one thing. 
  • When you're doing something very hard, it's possible to have a happy heart and a cranky head at once. Don't let the head win. 
  • Provide for yourself at least what you give to others. Practice this daily, until  it stops feeling selfish to get your way. Then keep practicing. 
  • Don't be sorry about not knowing more. Worry if you don't care about knowing more. 
  • Sometimes, things really are as good as you feared they might be, and will stay that way. Trust. 
  • The accomplishments you're aiming for probably won't happen if you aren't willing to try as much as you hope. Love the work.  Love the work. 
  • If you're keeping yourself from a thing you want, ask yourself why you don't deserve it.
I'm beginning to see old, safe routines and habits as the tractor that is traveling 4 mph and won't pull over to let you pass.  It is the sawhorse at the end of the street that bars you from your  favorite shops and restaurants.

Seize the energy of September and if you can't go right out and get what you want, just imagine having it for a while. The door will open, the tractor will pull over, and then...

you can take yourself shopping. 


  1. It always amazes me how easy it is to let fear guide my way. Working on changing that too!

  2. This is exactly the message I needed this morning. Thank you.

  3. What a great challenge. It's hard to know how far to push ourselves sometimes, but when we look back at the times we made an all out effort, it was always worth it in the end. And now I want to read your unwritten book!

  4. I love the visual of the tractor and not being able to get passed it! Great words here, Let's go!

  5. I always see September and the fall as a start of the new year, and your piece was just the tonic to start fresh. Like you, I've had nt a novel but an article stewing in my mind, even outlined it on a big yellow legal pad. My brain was on fire. And then, there it sits. Got to get that tractor out of the way!

    1. Great!! We shall be tractor-passing buddies!