A professional contact (I'll call her Barbara) said, "I'm amazed at the clarity and focus of your professional website. She said it was impressive because I'd been going solo and hadn't joined any professional organizations or networks. It was wonderful though to make contact with somebody with whom I could exchange professional experiences and ideas. Collaboration!
While she lauded my work, my jaw was still dropped in awe of her networking and involvement in professional organizations. If we were in high school, I imagined her within the sliver-sized population of most achieved/most popular, while I'd blend somewhere in the larger body of average kids. At least, that was what the chatter in my head said, a remnant of the part of the mind I always needed to silence so I could hear the person in front of me speak.
When I arrived at an event that Barbara coordinated, a woman approached, her smile broad. "Hello, I'm Barbara's mother," she said. I said I was glad to meet her. It was very kind of her to be friendly since I was the newcomer to the group. "I'm Barbara's biggest fan," she said. "I show up to all of her events." How wonderful was that? As the evening program proceeded, it was evident that she and her daughter shared that mutual admiration.
I'd seen this cohesion when I was ten years old and attended a classmate's birthday party. Sheryl's was the first I'd ever attended where aunts and uncles were mindful participants. They ate with us, and they rallied around while her parents rolled a video that starred Sheryl, who was so natural. She even performed magic tricks. Then she opened their gifts, which were spellbinding. She was given items that would be put away in a hope chest for her future. They were household items, and that's about all I recall. But what I absorbed was that there was a plan for her future. Over time, I thought it was a birthright of Jewish girls, to have doting relatives and a plan.
I tend to inch out onto the world stage and then second guess. There are two theories on this. One would suggest that if you have to push yourself to step out, and if your initial effort isn't received as you'd hoped, the universe may be telling you that you're moving in the wrong direction. Another theory would say that dilligence, persistence and effort is part of the journey to your path.
A friend said it this way: Perhaps it won't be easy, but when a person is doing what he or she was born to do, the work will not feel exhausting or wearisome. That made sense.
Backstage, there are others having the same experience. Their stories are varied and fascinating, and it's in the backstage place that we remind each other what's important in life in the first place. We share our journeys, the lessons learned. That's inspiration. Theoretically, then it's show time.
I recall when I decided to switch two entire rooms full of furnishing. With the aid of my son and cohort, we sped between the two rooms, carting furnishings, lamps bric-a-brac until we realized that one room was now Zen-like and the other crammed. There was zero chance that repositioning the pieces would change that. Jimmy approached, breathing heavy. "Well, we made that mistake reeeeeally fast," he said.
A dear friend wrote last week and said she'd enrolled in a personal enrichment class. It was her way of inching out onto life's stage, to move in the direction of another long-range goal. I felt like Barbara's mother, thrilled to be a fan, applauding, even if it was out here in cyberspace.
So I think about my direction, and what, if anything, I should do different. As I write this, the lessons learned from the backstage place have welled up:
- Being still is not the same thing as being stuck; and being slower doesn't mean less motivated
- Just because you're moving quick, doesn't mean you're on your path
- Activity and busyness can be another ploy to avoid simplicity. (Chaos-r-us.) You can't serve the poor soul in the corner a cup of coffee when you're on a plane answering the call to save the world
- It's not for somebody outside of you to judge whether you're avoiding or not. They'd be guessing
- Even an uncomfortable change is positive when it leads you to listen for the still, small voice within
- Don't compare yours to somebody else's life, mission or mode
- We are created distinctly different, shaped by our experiences, and never stop growing and learning unless we so choose
Well, after all that, maybe it's time to hush the chatter. And in that place of silence and acceptance, listen for that still small voice inside that knows best.