So much is unknown about this mystery we like to call “life.”
We have our theories and ideas about it, our values and beliefs that may help guide us through it, but watertight certainty about any of it is hard to find.
Except for one thing:
This is probably the only time your life will be lived.
Just think about that for a moment…
This is the only time when your unique talents and abilities and yearnings and experiences and even your pain can mix together in quite this way. It’s more than just the chance of a lifetime…
So it’s also probably the only time your dreams have a chance to be lived out in quite the way that you – and only you – could live them. So will you let them live?
Have you ever tried to make up your mind about something and then found yourself lost in a never-ending argument of pros and cons? Looking for “the right” answer… Where you catch yourself thinking: “On this hand…” and “On the other hand…” until it’s all completely out of hand?
And now you’re feeling even more lost than when you started. Swamped. Confused.
I know I have.
Yet maybe there’s another way through all of this. For if world class thinking theorist Edward de Bono is right, the way you explore an issue is key. In fact, he thinks that:
“If you explore well, a decision makes itself.”
(And how handy would that be?)
So what’s he actually on about? And how might you be able to try some of it out?
Cloudy days will come.
For you. For your family. For your friends.
And not just the kind that dominate the skies above you. But also the ones that help set the weather within you. The internal cloudy days that send your mental and emotional landscape into overcast sadness.
Cloudy days will come…
I was thinking this the other day, when some of my family came to Sydney to visit. Even now, in spring, it was suddenly cold and wet again. And even though it was sun that we wanted, it was cloud and some rain that we got (as you can see in the photo).
So what do you do when the internal cloudy days come to visit? How can you get through them? Or maybe even prepare for them? On this year’s Mental Health Day, perhaps it’s worth getting mentally meteorological and taking a look at what you’ll do when your weather changes.
You know those times when the same message keeps on turning up in your life? Over and over? Where you keep recognising the same idea in many different places (and you know you could apply it to yourself)? Well, I’m having one of those times.
And the message is about editing. Cutting back. Slicing off the excess to leave some empty space.
To leave more room for simply living.
(Something in me relaxes even just thinking about it – how about you?)
So let’s have a look together for a moment and see what you might have to gain by losing some things…
I couldn’t help but smile when I walked past this building in my neighbourhood recently. There’s something beautifully absurd about a sign announcing “OFFICE” above a doorway that’s then been completely bricked-in. I wonder if they get much business…?
Yet what’s not so funny is how you might be doing this to yourself, to your life, at times. How you might be walling-off the very opportunities or happenings you’d like to take place. How you might be sending messages out there – to others, to yourself – that completely, unwittingly, contradict your dreams. And maybe even stop them from having a chance.
So let’s take a look behind the brickwork for a moment and see what’s going on…
Storytelling seems to be written so deeply into us. We’ve done it for millennia, to capture knowledge and wisdom and heart. Yet stories aren’t only verbal. They’re visceral, too. They’re the lived-out stories of our days.
So what kind of story are you telling with your life?
Where might the story of you be headed right now?
(And is that where you’d like it to go?)
When you pull back from the minutiae and dialogue of the everyday, what themes seem to emerge off your pages? Are there patterns re-visited across time?
And as the author of this particular story, this particular life, what does all of that mean for you?
Let’s delve into the pages for a moment.
This sign in the photo – “PLAY” – is at a local park near a children’s play area.
I love its whimsy. There’s something wonderful about a street sign that’s about as anti-stop-sign as you can get. A sign that’s green for a start, and that insists on such a fabulous pursuit.
So when was the last time you played?
Or are you too serious – too grownup – for that?
(And, if so, what might you be missing out on?)
There’s a saying about bowls. It comes from an ancient text, but maybe it’s just as applicable today (bowls haven’t changed much in that time…).
It’s about the fact that the absence of bowl is just as important as its presence. That the emptiness inside it is crucial to its nature. The emptiness makes it possible – is its essence, in a way:
“Mould clay into a bowl.
The empty space makes it useful…”
Perhaps there’s something to learn here…
There’s an old broken piano keyboard in someone’s pile of junk out in my street, waiting for the garbage truck. Most of the keys are bent and some have broken off. It’s looking pretty forlorn…
Have you ever felt a bit like that sometimes?
Like some of your keys have gone missing somehow.
Or some of your strings have been busted.
Or you’re just generally out-of-tune; neglected; broken.
Maybe at times like those it’s been tempting to just give up and wait for the truck…
But maybe there’s another option, too?
This chalk drawing on the pavement made me smile as I wandered past it yesterday. And then I noticed the bits of chalk laying alongside it, like an invitation. A chance to add to the picture; to build on what’s already there; to join the dots anew…
And it struck me how easy it can be sometimes to do exactly the opposite in life…
Instead, to sort of stand before the image you’re faced with (the image of your life), and just wish it was different. Or to compare it to some idealized picture of how life ‘should’ be, or ‘could have been.’ Just standing there and willing it to simply change somehow. To be ‘better’ somehow; different somehow.
A funny thing about this kind of wishful thinking is that a lot of it seems to happen in your mind and not so much on the canvas of your life. So getting swept up in reveries of how things would look if they were as they ‘should be’ or ‘might have been’ may actually stop you from clearly seeing what’s actually there right in front of you.
And it might even stop you picking up the chalk…