the dreadful truth
The dreadful truth is that there is no way to avoid it/them.
If there is indeed a deep longing emanating from your heart, the depths of your soul, a calling to pursue, then the only thing to do is to start. Today.
I can’t now, you will say, that’s absurd - you’re dreaming.
There will be many reasons why now is not the right time. Money, commitments, family. You are waiting. I hear you. But the truth is you are quietly fearful of the many detractors that are likely to rise up in your path. Internal antagonists, ill wishing onlookers and disrespecting peers. But know that it is the demons of your own making that you should fear the most. They may indeed be more than you can quite bare.
But the terrible truth of it is that you should still persevere. For the only way is through. Know that there is great richness and joy in this soulful path.
So you are deferring this dream until later for fear of taking it on in the now. I know, I get it. For I have done just this, many times before. Sometimes with good justification and sometimes less so. And still even now some days it seems all number of thoughts try to rise up to divert me. Some days this can be a cycle of regret that moves me away from that which calls — another attempt from my loyal inner soldiers to deter me from my path.
After several failed attempts I have now learnt that the fear will not go. But the longing, the pull towards a fuller life will expand and encroach to matter more and more than all other things combine— if you let it that is. And so you allow the pull of longing to take you.
You can busy yourself with other tasks, or numb out one way or the other, deferring your quest to later. Next time, next year — when you are more ready, fitter, wealthier, more confident, braver, stronger: a better bolder you. But the reality is that it is still going to be hard even then.
You have all that you need already.
So the dreadful truth is this: even if you wait until you are stronger, braver, better — even then the fear will be waiting for you. You will have to push through these awful dragging, limiting, shrinking feelings and thoughts — and deflect all those inner loyal soldiers and lion tamers that seek to keep you small, safely contained in your small ego-centred world.
If there is something you really want to do, you really must do, that thing that you can not let go of, that your heart longs for — then you might as well start it now.
Another warning — or perhaps I should call it a heads up because I don’t want you to delay your quest — but do know that starting is the easy part. You will think that starting and getting all organised is such a big step, you will be so proud and think so well of yourself for getting this far. And yes I guess it is but honestly, compared to the nagging, doubt filled ogres and deterrents the size of mountains that will rise up to defeat you (it will seem) as soon as you begin your quest. Their job is to divert you. To what end you ask? To keep you safe and small, they linger from your early childhood after all. Yet with a dash of mystery in mind perhaps they are there to ensure that the fruits of your labours really are good enough?
“One can have no smaller or greater mastery than mastery of oneself.”
— Leonardo da Vinci
The challenge is to rise up each day and keep going, to keep trying, to learn what works and what doesn’t and to get better. It is the repetition of one foot in front of the other, day after day (in the face of every fear and diversion you can imagine). Small steps, onward (yes even in the dark).
How many dreams or bold initiatives are quietly dropped and left behind? As inspiration dwindles and the fun of immersion and the new slowly passes, how do we keep on going? (Particularly I wonder about this for mothers/family carers, when time and space becomes all the more contested).
So perhaps, I suggest as a woman, as a mother you will need even greater resolve and determination than ever.
“She remembered who she was
and the game changed.”
— Lalah Delia
As a creative I know I often have huge energy at the early stage of projects — I love the visioning and ideation phases. Leading a team it is super important for me that I have others around that I can pass the baton to as the project shifts from the early exploring, creative/expansive and often immersive phase into the hard (often plodding and repetitive) work of getting it done. This is the grind.
Because this is not my default zone, in the workplace I’ve learnt to be more disciplined, and give this area extra energy particularly when leading teams and use a blend of agile/scrum and project plans to ensure execution happens.
Working for myself this is still where I need to focus extra energy. I have to do the work, the daily grind as there is no one else to hand it to — at least not right now.
The only way is through
You can defeat your demons, or rather move past them. In my experience they never quite disappear although they do recede.
We need the will to keep going. To face the inner deterrents and to keep going, particularly when it is something that keep calling us, over and over. The potential for abandoning the quest/vision is real. Working with groups sometimes they will carry on but the original intent and purpose is lost as energy wains, participants struggle with the resilience required for long drawn out change processes and the build of the new.
“I had some ambition. I meant everything to be different with me. I thought I had more strength and mastery. But the most terrible obstacles are such as nobody can see except oneself.”
— George Eliot (Middlemarch)
I feel like I have found a personal truth in this space as I am beginning to see there is a joy in walking the path, sticking to the process and each day building on what went before. Somedays there are awesome wins and others not so much. But it is a process. I am on a climb and just need to keep taking another step, finding another foothold, doing the best work I can in each moment.
The real slip up for me would be abandoning my vision, my soul work. There are still very real lures that no doubt divert countless others from following their dreams. That inner voice/sub personality that is (I have finally realised after a decade of inner work!) is what Bill Plotkin calls a ‘loyal soldier’ one that is actually committed to keeping me safe — but also small and childlike. I will never achieve my dreams listening to this one.
Choosing who you listen to is so important in choosing your path and your work. For me it has been unearthing that quiet inner voice (perhaps soul, spirit or higher self) that has always been there but perhaps I haven’t always listened to, that has allowed me to find this new commitment to honouring what matters.