Picture the scene: You firmly decide to go back to school, quit your job, take that trip to Paris or ask that special someone out on a date. FIERCE! The applause soundtrack is on full blast in your head and your heart is thrumming away like your high school marching band. You rush over to your bestie co-worker’s cubicle or pick up the phone and call an old friend or email a valued relative to get their proverbial “thumbs up”. The possibility of adventure and success is all you can taste...until it curdles in your mouth with the sour but well-intentioned words hurled back at you from your dear ones.
- Yea, but did you weigh all your options?
- What’s the most logical approach?
- You know, college debt!
- It’s a long shot.
- But we have a pension here.
- Can you just do it without going back to school?
- Don’t get your hopes up.
- Auditions are hard.
- Most small businesses fail.
- It’s hard to get a book published, there’s so much competition.
- What about health insurance?
- Flying is dangerous in this day and age.
- You don’t know the language.
- It’s so far away.
- What if something happens?
- You can’t just DO that.
Say you sit down to tell your friend that you are finally going to take that trip to Paris and by the time the conversation ends they’ve convinced you that a trip to New Haven would be much safer and more logical and way more economical. And they are right, It IS safer and more logical and economical BUT IT’S NOT PARIS, and you want to go to PARIS NOT NEW HAVEN. For the record, New Haven is delightful. I love New Haven, but listen, and listen to me hard. I want to save you from that miserable day, that "come to Jesus" moment when you find yourself sitting in a Starbucks in New Haven, beating your fist on the table and asking yourself what ever became of that dream of going to Paris.
Not taking action toward your dreams will never make them go away. Trust me, they will haunt you relentlessly and cause deep suffering if you don’t respect and listen to them. Maybe not today but definitely when you are on your deathbed if not before. Please hold on to your dreams and make them happen whatever it takes and with or without agreement from the outside world. Consent is a currency with no value when it comes to what YOU want to create with this one magical life you’ve been granted.
I want you to really get it that your loved ones would rather see you safe than happy and for all the most wholesome reasons. They are supposed to discourage you from taking risks. They LOVE you. They want you to live long not deeply. This is important and comforting in a strange way. But they don’t own you. Your job is to surprise them, defy them and come back to tell them the stories of wonder and success and adventure you’ve collected in your dances with fear, self-doubt and the kind of humility that can only come from looking at one’s own toes folding over the edge of an unimaginably high cliff when a stiff breeze is stirred up.
Fear comes into the equation again and again. This is good, this is very good. The more you dance with fear the better you become at it. Bring it on. Some rules I use to assuage the pain of dancing with fear are as follows:
- Rule #1 - Do what you want to do. As my Father and Joseph Campbell both say: “Follow your bliss.”
- Rule #2 - Resist the urge to defend yourself. You will fail. The absurd are indefensible.
- Rule #3 - Become comfortable with being absurd.
- Rule #4 - Become intimate with the phrase “I’ll figure it out.”
- Rule #5 - Do what you want to do. As Rina’s father says: “It’s all an experiment.”
- Rule #6 - Make curiosity a top priority.
- Rule #7 - Remember: You are going to die.
- Rule #8 - Then forget that you are going to die and live like your ass is on fire.
- Rule #9 - Get clear on what really is the worst that can happen. Think it through.
- Rule #10 - Take some people along for the ride in any way you can.
Check out what Will Smith has to say about his dance with fear HERE. His storytelling begins just before 11 minutes into the interview so hold tight, it's worth it.
I just started watching a documentary about consumerism. THIS ONE.
It’s helping me get real clear on what freedom is for me and what I’ve perceived as freedom for most of my life. It’s empowering to step back and question everything, to really get that most of the things we think are mandatory are really optional. Can we step out of the system, big steps or little steps, can we challenge ourselves, challenge our cultures, challenge every belief we hold dear as well as those we find repulsive? It’s good exercise. It's all an experiment.