“Poetry can break open locked chambers of possibility.” Poet Adrienne Rich
I wonder what poet Adrienne Rich had in mind when she wrote of the “locked chambers of possibility?” Fear, self-doubt, and uncreative thinking are certainly “locks” that will prevent you discovering and playing in the land of possibility.
I can no longer find any legitimate excuses for boredom, a malady that haunted me for almost two years. Ridiculous. There is always the realm of possibility. So many things to do, some smaller and some huge. On one end of the spectrum can be discovered “everyday” possibilities like hobbies, books, movies, museums, walks, gyms, and scores of others.
On the other end of the spectrum of possibility lies grand opportunities for travel, new careers, marriage, toys (like new cars), a new residence… whatever you dream of—is possible!
Sometimes all you need is a Paradigm Shift to move from the dark cloud of boredom back into the light of actually making your dreams become real. Give yourself permission to dream. Adrienne Rich found poetry as her window to view possibility. As a rather recent devotee of poetry I agree with her assumption.
Certainly the descriptive language of analogy and metaphor of poetry opens doors, but what I find most magical about poetry is that which lies between the lines—the words unwritten by the poet that allows space for you to dream of your own story.
What is possibility if not the connection between dreams and reality? Terry Hershey sent a story to me written by his friend Phil with stage 4 cancer…
I’m still thinking about the value of reinvention [possibilities realized]. Inspired by the story of Gaylord Perry, the longtime baseball pitcher. When he no longer could sustain a certain pitch or set of pitches he reconfigured his plan. Sometimes this required developing new ways, new approaches, and maybe new pitches. I don’t know about this in any depth but his new plan had to fool the batter and that is the proof of success, plain and simple.
And he was able to do this over and over again lengthening a career remarkably. I guess he didn’t see himself cast in stone unable to change, wedded to some ideal or method. It is rather that change was his secret weapon.
I hear such amazing stories these days of people I come in contact with who have made a break with jobs, careers or life styles and have fashioned new more effective situations. All this is very creative and brave. Sort of dancing with the “hands we are dealt”.
I love the words, “dancing with the hands we are dealt.” And, in your life, you are dealt so many hands, with so many different combinations of cards. Yet, don’t you often find yourself playing with the same identical hand over and over? Rubbish! Perhaps it’s time to fold and deal yourself a new hand. Then dance with it for a while. If it’s a good hand hang in. If not, throw in the cards and play a new game.
“Possibility” is a very limiting concept unless you actually attempt what is possible until you’ve done it so much it’s time to redeal and play with a new hand of possibility.
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“Our greatest fears lie in anticipation.” Honoré de Balzac
We’re all familiar with the old adage, “The worst kind of fear is the fear of the unknown.” In fact, we create our own fear in anticipation of an upcoming event with which we are not entirely confident—an interview, a presentation, a sports game, a performance, and dozens of other events.
“… [I was focusing] on the guidebook. “Finding Your Way,” it said, and I thought, this will take more than a map.”
Naomi Shahib Nye, Coming into Cuzco.
Attending UCLA in the late 1960’s was, to say the least, mind altering. Perhaps the primary mantra for those of us deeply involved in the incipient hippie movement was, “I’m trying to find myself.” It’s kind of a humorous question if taken literally. “Look in a mirror and the job is done.”
My friend Terry Hershey spoke at a conference recently during which he emphasized the value of keeping an attitude of sufficiency rather than scarcity. His message struck a chord in me. (I think Stephen Covey first coined the concept in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, when he introduced the Abundance Mentality vs. the Scarcity Mentality.)
I like Sufficiency. I believe you are sufficiently endowed with all the gifts and talents you need to live well and make a difference on this planet. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says to simply, “let your light shine.” The implication is that you already have the light within you. Jesus did not say, “Create your light” or “Make your light shine.” No, he said “let” it shine or “allow” what is already in you to shine.
You are sufficiently gifted with compassion, mercy, kindness, and even grit. Even when you doubt it most, you sufficiently have the ability to overcome hardship, break bad habits, and make others feel good. Although it may not be most normal, I believe it is most natural. That is… once you practice it regularly.
My good friend Bobby X (check out the podcast with him) was an angry, hate-filled, prison inmate, skinhead that lived violently with genuine evil in his heart. His prison stories are crazy! And then, after 40 years old, Bobby discovered his light.
A handful of things changed him forever. One, he grew tired of the hatred and wanted to make a change, then he joined a 12-Step Group, made friends with people that loved him so much he couldn’t help but accept the fact that he was loved. And within a few short months the most natural thing for Bobby to do was love them back. Pretty soon it became habit. Now, Bobby “lets his light shine” every single day.
The other ugly side of the coin is that Scarcity Mentality. The scarcity mentality is composed primarily of fear: fear of not being liked, fear of failure, and fear of emotional pain.
Three results are common. One, you are so afraid of not being liked, that in order to protect yourself you keep to yourself and fail to make new friends. The second result from the fear of failure is that you refuse to try new things because you might fail. The truth is, you WILL fail! Hopefully a lot. Failure only means you are adventurous and willing to risk for the sake of grabbing ahold of the wonder of life.
The third and ugliest form of fear is blaming others or difficult situations as the source of your problems. Even worse, is that you most often blame yourself. I hate blaming. It’s just common way to refuse to take responsibility. A failure to “let your light shine.”
Yea. Let’s get back to the sufficiency you already have within you to deal with the crap life deals you.
I have a couple thoughts:
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It’s funny how some distance / Makes everything seem small / And the fears that once controlled me / Can’t get to me at all / It’s time to see what I can do / To test the limits and break through / No right, no wrong, no rules for me, / I’m free! / Let it go, let it go! From the movie, Frozen, Walt Disney Music Company
Yep, how many times have you been forced to make the decision that the time has come for you to simply, Let It Go!
“In order to understand the present we must link it to the self transforming urges of the past. We must see [the present] as an evolutionary urge toward a transformation of all traditional notions… which have penetrated one another and thus have changed the very essence of these “traditional notions.” Lazlo Moholy-Nagy
More than thirty years ago I attended a lecture series by author Lanson Ross, when I first heard his life impacting statement, “You are what you have been becoming.” What I took from his amazing proclamation was that my life tomorrow begins today. I am, today, whatever I have been becoming in the past, but tomorrow… oh tomorrow will be what I begin doing today.
The great discoveries, inventions and works of creativity throughout history have made no sense to the people of their time. Just think of da Vinci, Copernicus, Newton, Einstein, Bell, Edison, Ford, Picasso, quantum mechanics, and wave theory. None of these “made sense” at the time of their advent and yet they changed the world as we know it.
You know well, the truth is: many things you don’t want to do are often the very things you need to do, maybe especially when you don’t want to do them most.
“I will not be ‘famous’ or ‘great.’ I will go on adventuring, changing, opening my mind and my eyes, refusing to be stamped and stereotyped.” Virginia Wolff
“This ain’t no dress rehearsal” may be one of the oldest quotes I know. Still, it is a timeless truth that we all need to be reminded of regularly.
It’s so easy to “throw in the towel” especially when you get older. But the elderly are not the only ones with this tragic attitude. I know far too many people that have virtually dropped out of the game: working jobs they hate, hanging with people that bring them down, relying on drugs and alcohol, or simply accepting a life they find meaningless and lacking excitement.
Right now I am in Italy. The first few days were less than I hoped for: small rooms and too many radically steep hills in route to the tiny place I was staying. Initially I forgot I was in one of the most awesome places in the world. My temptation was to hold on to a lousy attitude and complain about everything. In fact, I think I found an odd pleasure in being a cantankerous old curmudgeon.
And then… each location somehow became adventurous, beautiful and fun. What changed? Not the locale. It was me deciding to get “back in the game” and remember that I was in freaking Italy, maybe my favorite country in the world.
I was struck by the 80 year old adventurers with the travel bug and the hunger to fully taste the privilege of travel. Unlike those that stay home, watch TV, and drink martinis, these old folks have a hunger to experience and learn.
Leonard Bernstein wrote, “Though I can’t prove it, deep in my heart I know that every person is born with the love of learning. Without exception.” Hmmm. I think the astonishing composer was on to something, something too easy to forget. Few things in life are more gratifying than learning something new: new sights, new cultures, new jobs, new technologies, new hobbies, and new perspectives.. All of these fill some primordial human need to take risks in search of that which is chancy and better.
Theodore Roosevelt put it best…
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming…who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Yes, “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly.”
Does Teddy describe you? If so, good for you! If not, perhaps today is the day you reconsider “getting back in the game.”
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