For years, I’ve loved the NPR challenge posed by the series “This I Believe,” to distill my philosophy of life down to three minutes and find one core belief around which my heart organizes itself. Yet I found myself thwarted, by my belief in so many things, and paradoxically by my aversion to any kind of religiosity…I reserve the right at any time to change my mind.
For over ten years, people have come to me to help reshape their lives, and the process is never smooth, never predictable, and never, never flawless. I am always learning that each client is unique and ultimately unknowable; what works for one doesn’t work for another. As they heal, they take what we’ve worked on out into the world, and the exercises that seemed so clean and straightforward in the office turn out quite differently in“real” life.
Life is messy. The heart stirs happily or unhappily over surprising events, the face of a stranger, the raw emotions of a beloved, the sparseness of one’s environment. And until those experiments occur in that real world, my clients and I don’t really know if the interventions we employ are actually going to have an effect.
A long time ago, my partner and I visited a museum in Arizona dedicated to the Native American nations representing that region. Every item was painted, decorated and shaped so that the people were always touching, living in, surrounded by beauty and emotional power. There was no designated tribal artist, but instead many people crafting their surroundings.
It seems that our current world discourages this, in seeking excellence and perfection, we fear to place that first experimental dab of color on our walls, literally or metaphorically, for fear of judgment, or that the reality won’t live up to our fantasy.
So we stay in our comfort zones, away from these creative experiments, until the thought of moving always out to be curious, to explore, and to create without thought of perfection, feels impossible. That’s not living. Yet my sense is that the old scripts are now really falling apart, and we just don’t trust our ability to do improvisation, or to recover from the bumps and bruises earned in practicing a new way of moving.
This is what I believe: we are all crafting our own lives.
Painful, frightening, exhilarating, impassioned lives. The need for change, dramatic change, at this point in history, is clear, and so much bigger than the individual work I’ve made my bread-and-butter. I want to support that greater change in the way I can, by encouraging people to be more creative and courageous, not only individually but also tribally, in formulating new ways of being human. And this is my start.
What do you think?