We are either moving forward or we are dead.
There is no middle ground. Even when we feel nothing is happening, that what we are doing doesn’t matter, life is going on.
My personal thoughts about my self-worth and my value, my contributions to society and the greater good, are done against this backdrop.
Whether I decide I am valuable just as I am, with all my flaws and brilliance, life is still moving forward.
If I decide that I am worthless, life is still going forward. The sun is still going to rise, the moon will come up in the east and the stars will come out at night. Plate tectonics will still be pushing mountain ranges into the sky and people will miss their bus as they wait in the rain. All of this will go on whether I am afraid or not.
My choice then, and I do have a choice, is to decide what to do with the time that I have.
I can be afraid of the future and live my life protecting myself from such messy things as feelings and emotions. This has been the path I chose for 40+ years. This was the safe path. Never get close to anyone. Never be vulnerable.
Willie Nelson’s song where he sings, Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys ends with “and their always alone, even with someone they love.” The first time I heard that, I could identify.
My life has been a series of emotional drive-byes, never parking the car and getting out to have a deeper, more meaningful conversation. I am the king of “just a little.”
My relationships are, like my knowledge, two miles wide, and two inches deep.
So, as life marches forward, I am faced with how I want to spend my brief time on this earth. In some ways, I feel I have squandered much of the time I have been given. Had I been more open to what was happening, maybe I would have started facing depression much earlier.
This could have given me more years to practice having deeper relationships, listening to people, and seeing the world from their perspective. Once again, I can should on myself and within minutes, that damn rabbit hole is appearing, and everything starts to teeter on the edge of disaster.
What an F’ed up way to live.
Buckminster Fuller went down to the river one night with the intention of ending his life. He had a wife, a small child, and no visible way to support them. Standing there, he saw that for himself, life was over as he knew it. So, if he was already dead, what would be the harm in working on ideas he had been carrying around?
After all, he had decided he wasn’t going to be around, so if his ideas didn’t pan out, he wasn’t any further behind than he was at that moment. The result was a brilliant career, the invention of the geodesic dome, and a life spent inspiring others.
Buckminster Fuller chose life.
For me, choosing life has been a mixed bag of excitement and terror. Being in the moment, connecting with people on a deeper level has been wonderful. But at the same time, I have only allowed myself to try it a few times.
Energy is required to make these deeper connections.
This can be draining. While I am getting better at this, it is a work in progress. Leaving behind my guarded, limited engagement with people has been hard. It is easy to revert to the protectionist patterns I had relied on for all these years. Read more: Why am I listening to that voice?
Talking with someone by phone the other day, I was sure to remark about intermittent cell service as I was driving. This, in the past, would have been my ticket out of the conversation. Instead, I did not take the easy way out, but reminded myself there was a lot to learn from this person and the conversation was actually fun.
Getting past unhelpful thinking was what it took to see the rewards.
Once on the other side of “here is what I want to say, I don’t really want to hear what you have to say, so I have to go,” the conversation was more real, more connecting and satisfying for both of us.
Days arrive where I am scared to get out of bed, but I always do.
Then I screw on my, “I can do this face,” and off I go. Learning how to challenge unhelpful thinking and these automatic thoughts depression is still tossing in my direction has helped me be more in the moment.
In the end, I choose life, to march forward with a plan to live in the present and be open to all of life’s possibilities.
What have you chosen?