TURNING ON A DIME
Life, they say, is what happens while you’re otherwise occupied.
I’m not sure if I believe that, but I do believe that you can miss life by being occupied. We can get caught up in crisis living and miss the turns on our personal paths that are most meaningful. What do I mean?
Honestly, I’m grappling with what exactly I mean, so we’ll just talk through it together, since the matter is very much on my mind this morning due to two significant events. The two events. I guess that’s a good place to start.
Event #1: a neighbor died. He and his wife had one child, a son. He was college-age, a smart guy with character and tons of potential. A few years ago, he was crossing a bridge and a car veered into his lane and hit him head-on. He had nowhere to go, and was killed. His parents suffered the heartache of losing their only child and now his father has passed, and my heart aches for his widow.
She’s buried her child and will now bury her husband, and she’s left to cope with the loss alone. I find myself asking how will she bear it, and praying she’s a woman of faith because, I’ll tell you, I watched my mother bury two sons and then my father and I know that only her faith got her through it all intact.
Event #2: all the tornadoes that hit in the last few days, and all the lives cut short because they did. Each of those people had lives and hopes and dreams and aspirations. I’m sure many had enormous potential and mile-long to-do lists, too. Things that just couldn’t wait, so they put their lives on hold–the things important to them personally–to do those “can’t wait,” or crisis-living things.
Yet in the span of mere minutes, all of those things became insignificant. Every bit of every one of them did, because in that twinkling, they lost their lives. All that potential and those hopes and dreams and aspirations went with them, too.
I can’t shake thoughts of them in those last minutes. When they knew what was coming and they couldn’t avoid it. What were they thinking then? When the realization hit them that they were going to die, what were their thoughts?
I’m sure there was fear. I’m sure there was anger and cries of, “But it’s too soon. I’m not ready yet.” And I’m sure there were regrets. Things done that they wished could be undone. Things left unsaid that now would remain unsaid forever.
Self-recrimination on priorities and perspectives of what most mattered no doubt shifted. I’m not sure of the nature of those regrets, but I wonder… Were any of them thinking of the crisis-living things they simply had to do before the storm?
We all have duties, responsibilities and obligations. Often so many of them that we keep pushing aside high-priority personal items. It’s those things I wonder how these people felt about at that twinkling moment. I know that during crisis moments we often see most clearly. Our focus becomes laser sharp, intense on the matter at hand and we give everything–our all–to whatever is on our minds at that moment in time.
I know that on the other side of crises, people who have experienced those moments and survived often make a sharp turn in their lives. They consider the crisis a wake-up call and redefine their lives. They take a look at their priority list and turn it on its ear. They shun crisis-living and adopt personal-priority living. And often that personal priority living has to do with dreams they’ve carried with them for a lifetime, or maybe hints of that dream that in that moment of intense clarity came sharply into focus.
This has me calling the question: Can we reach that twinkling moment, that point in time where we have laser focus and gain that clarity without experiencing a personal, life-threatening crisis?
We can. It isn’t hard to mentally place ourselves in the positions of others who have been there and done that. And if we do, then we have the opportunity to learn from their experience. We might not share all of the emotional impact that they endure, but we can grasp and project and imagine, and gain deeper insight and understanding. We can awaken and seek wisdom in this way.
There is always merit in seeking wisdom. In looking at our own crisis-living items and personal-priority items and weighing what we’re doing. There’s wisdom in evaluating these things when we aren’t in crisis because we still have an opportunity to change them.
Some will choose the status quo. Life’s comfortable and they don’t want it any different. That’s their choice, and I’m sure there’s comfort in having weighed the matter and made the call. The peace that comes with knowing you’ve considered it and you’re doing what’s right for you.
Some will redefine aspects of their lives. Of those who do, some will stick with those new changes and some will slide back into the old. Their choice. Again, better because decisions have come as a result of deep thought and not of apathy.
Some will challenge every single thing that has been a part of their lives and make significant changes. Life-altering, life-defining changes. Of these, some will be reborn into a life very different from the one they’ve been living, and they’ll thump themselves for waiting so long to make those changes.
Some will wonder what they were thinking to do this—make all these changes–at this point in their lives, in their careers. Regardless, they will choose from a broader, more insightful perspective.
You know, I don’t think what’s significant is the path one takes so much as that one takes the path chosen with a deeper awareness of life. Taking it deliberately. Intent on taking it. That is a good thing.
Whether that awareness brings a person to a point on their journey where they move straight ahead or turn on a dime, veering sharply in a totally different direction, well that’s a choice. But the awareness, and all it brings to the person, well that’s a gift.
A gift? Yes. Absolutely, a gift. It’s one of those gems of wisdom that is home to solace and comfort and peace.
Now I know what I mean. And I’m going to reassess from this perspective. Will I stay on the current road or change directions on a dime? I don’t know. But I will know soon. Will you?
©2008, Vicki Hinze
In 2008, I did reassess, evalute what most mattered to me, and made a lot of big changes in my life. I wanted to share with you a few of the insights that have come with it.
1.Change is easy. It’s sticking with it that’s hard.
2.Others don’t always react well to your change. They want you to be the person you were, not the person you’ve become. For some it’s an insurmountable difference, for others accepted and embraced. Some in your life fade away and others replace them.
3.Clarity of vision brings calm and unexpected serenity. You don’t wonder if you’re doing what you should be, what most matters, you know you’ve thought it through and are attempting to, and that brings an inner peace with yourself—even as your Most Matters list refines itself.
4.Along with the moments of great clarity come moments of fear and doubt—especially if what you’re doing has spiritual implications (and most things do) and especially if you’re shaky on how to go about doing what you most want to do. That said, if you face the doubts and fears head on, admit you’re unsure or wary but you’re doing it anyway because it’s the right thing to do, these insidious fears and doubts flee like the scurrying rats they are.
5.This reassessment led to new challenges and some obstacles—clearly in place for two reasons. One, to make sure this is what you really want, and two, to keep you from doing it—particularly if it’s purpose work linked to your calling. Busy-ness defers your attention and focus from the constructive things you’re determined to do—but only if you let it. If you refuse, it too becomes a scurrying rat.
6.You have to make choices. Some popular, some unpopular. Some easy and some that are really difficult. All are not well received. All are not understood. All are not in the best interests of others who want you to continue to act in their best interests and take it personally when you don’t. You don’t shun commitments, but on new ones, you factor in the impact on your overall assessment and weigh the impact of a yes or no before you utter a yes or no. Sometimes far from easy, but in the end, always best for everyone involved.
7.Life is more fulfilling and less chaotic, though I’m busier than ever. But by prioritizing, the most critical things get done first and that keeps me organized and out of crisis mode. That’s important to the overall health—physical, emotional and spiritual—of any individual.
8.The old thought that creative people can’t be organized is proven false. It might not come wholly natural, but you can discipline yourself to be organized, and—here’s the perk—doing so is very liberating. No wasted time searching for the unfindable. No irritation or acid-stomach for the misplaced or forgotten. More peace, serenity and calm.
9.New and unexpected challenges and obstacles arise. The difference isn’t in the absence of those things but in the mindset when facing them. It takes a lot more to rock the boat. A lot more to upset the applecart. A whole lot more to get under the skin. There’s an acceptance that there’s a reason for what comes. Maybe it’s to allow time for ducks to get lined up that need to be lined up before x can occur. Maybe it’s that what seems like a good thing will prove to be an awful one. Maybe it’s that if x happens now, it gets in the way of y two months from now. Initially I struggled with this one. Patience is hard when you know what you want and you’re going after it. But after two years, and especially in this last year, I typically don’t even question delays or stumbling blocks. I accept them, put them in their proper place—the reason will become clear or if it doesn’t, it’s because I don’t need to know it—and press on, which is a whole lot healthier attitude toward things out of your control than is fretting.
All these things have proven to be significant differences within that extend outside of me. But above all, one lesson has risen to the top like cream and gleamed like the jewel it is:
Balance and clarity—these are the stuff of blessings.
The blessings were always there. I was just too focused on chasing the elusive something to notice them. Now, I’m noticing and savoring and I’m awed by how abundant those blessings are.
Even—no, especially—in the hard times.
TURNING ON A DIME
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Affirmation. Inspiration. Confirmation.
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Comment from Bonnie:
As always, Vicki, very sage advice. Accommodating change is also how we stay young in mind and vibrant in energy. Sinking into the rut in life destroys the soul.