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Life is An Invitation

Purposeful Wanderings - Bradford L. Glass - December 2022

Newsletter - 12.22
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“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? – Mary Oliver

Life continually invites us to live its (and our own) greatest potential, potential that is always there, right in front of our faces, just waiting to be accepted. Yet driven as we are to “fight life to the ground,” (see last month’s article), we often dismiss this possibility as fantasy … so we miss altogether the option to listen, learn and accept the invitation to live it. Experience has taught me that we tend to believe that any kind of life change we make has to involve tedious questioning, with results in small steps, and we just don’t have the patience to do the work … in steps. In making this assumption, however, we miss the possibility of big steps, thereby precluding that, too!

If you’re open to entertaining something more in life, here’s a path you might walk. In your quiet, reflective time each day (you do that, right?), include space for “envisioning the future into being.” Think of it as an imaginative exercise (not a plan or a promise), where you allow the potential life holds – possibility you may only now dream about – to “come out and play.” The energy for this is already inside you; it’s made up of your deepest longings, your innate truth, your soul purpose. This means you don’t have to “figure it out,” but rather, “invite it in.” It will speak … if you’re there to listen, learn and accept. (The exercises below can guide you in this process.)

When you’re using your imagination, you release yourself from the literal/rational thought process of everyday life, so you’re free to paint a vivid picture of a life you’d love. An on-going practice of imagining serves to create a memory of the future, a picture that draws you into it, naturally … so as you take even one tiny step into any aspect of the life you imagine, you fool the unconscious mind into recognizing it as home (the vision is now cemented inside you), so it doesn’t try to hold you back under the guise of protecting you from the “danger of the unknown.”

Here are a few “shifts” life may be inviting you to make. In quiet reflection, you might “ponder” each one a while – not to judge it as impossible, but to imagine what life could be like if you were to live it. Again, there’s no plan or promise to do any of these; it’s simply an imaginative exercise … an experiment … an opening to “what if …” Just allow whatever comes up for you to “seep” into you. Listen, learn, absorb.

What if I were to:

· Design the rhythm of my day around my own well-being vs. the demands or opinions of others?

· View my tomorrows based on the possibility they may hold vs. the requirements they lay out?

· Plan so as to be prepared for anything (resilience) vs. prepared for one specific thing (rigidity)?

· Celebrate the perfectness of my imperfections vs. fighting to fix them (look how far your imperfections have brought you (working hard, solving, achieving, etc.), yet how fighting them isn’t fuel you want for the future)?

· Make decisions based on the felt experience of knowing (heart) vs. just rational knowing (head)?

· Follow the potential each moment holds vs. the drama each moment (also) holds?

· Use self-care (including quiet time and self-reflection) to create [sustainable] energy vs. drain energy?

· See “what is” with non-judgmental clarity and acceptance vs. my [judgmental] interpretation of “what is?”

· Choose to be the designer of the stage on which my life plays out vs. an actor in someone else’s play?

· See my life as a possibility to live into, rather than as an expectation to live up to? (ref: Ben & Roz Zander)

· Choose to live/enjoy/embrace the process of being vs. attach to the outcome of doing?

· Identify myself with “who I am,” the silence within me, vs. “what I do,” and the noise outside me?

· Be grateful for all that is vs. be resentful for what isn’t?

Exercise: Envisioning your life into being: For this exercise, consider your life as a story – a movie, perhaps. You know very well your role as star in this movie; it’s you, showing up each day for what life brings your way.

Today, you have two “new” opportunities. The first is to become the audience – the audience in your own movie. Imagine yourself watching your life story unfold. As observer, you gain a level of clarity and objectivity difficult to experience as participant. As you replay each aspect of your life story (school, work, relationships, hobbies, for example), ask yourself these questions: What was I always drawn to? Who was I always being? What did I do/be whether I gained approval or not? What did I imagine or wonder? What did I devote energy to? Look for places in your “always” stories that ran counter to “conventional wisdom.” Avoid hasty answers; be with what shows up. After doing this for every aspect of your life, separately, see what your answers have in common. These are clues to the authentic you, that piece of yourself so naturally you that you may not have previously recognized it as your own unique, deepest essence, your soul, your reason for being here. Absorb the energy of this! It may take many replay sessions to get a complete, satisfying picture of your inner truth. Allow.

Next, it’s time to become the director in your movie. This affords separation between you and your life, so you see and create with less attachment. As directors know, anything can come next; you simply change the script. This is not about planning or predicting the future, but about giving your dreams energy, so they have space to manifest. Sit quietly where you feel inspired. In your imagination, create your future as a movie, with you as its star, living the life of your dreams, evoking the heart, soul and spirit of the “you” you discovered above. Imagine where and how you live, how you relate to others, your community of love and support, making a great living doing what your heart and soul love most. For shifts described in the article that happen to have touched you, embody them in your movie. Be your potential. Do this exercise regularly, adding detail as you wish. The clarity you build creates energy. Fall in love with your movie. You need sell only one copy – to yourself! (And … if you find yourself censoring your dreams because of today’s struggles, leave the struggles out! It’s an exercise.)

These exercises draw on powers of consciousness we often ignore, or even deny, accustomed as we are to a fight with life. Our everyday world evokes descriptive powers of consciousness – assess, learn, do, achieve, complain, solve. But the mind has generative powers, too – imagining a future helps create that future … and this works at the level of a lifetime, a job, a project, a conversation or being a competency you desire. New-age fantasy to some, but the power is there nonetheless! Envisioning joins rational and emotional energy, which creates meaning.

Life Lessons from Nature: Nature doesn’t even get the dilemma described here. Everything is possible; nothing holds her back. Experimenting creates possibility. If it works, create more of it (replication). If there’s stress, make what exists even better (improvement). If there’s chaos, try something new (innovation). In nature, life’s inherent uncertainty and unpredictability create opportunity, and creative expression fills the void. Simple yet miraculous.

Book of the month: Courageous Dreaming, by Alberto Villoldo. Subtitled “How Shamans Dream the World into Being,” this oldie-but-goodie offers beautifully written perspective and insight into the power of consciousness we have to create the world we want to experience. Each of us has levels of consciousness far deeper than those required to get through an ordinary day, but if we experience only the ordinary, we never tap this power. And if you’re on Cape Cod, you’ll find this book at the Market Street Bookshop in Mashpee Commons; 508-539-6985.

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