A question has been repeating in my head: "Why am I so stuck?"
I was recently at a Laura Day's NYC workshop. We were told to silently ask a question to receive an intuitive answer. "Perfect. I know just the question," I thought. She told me, "You want to go from A straight to Z, yet you need to do B first."
Instantly and intuitively I knew "B." Hard work and focused effort. There are no short cuts with where I want to go. But the next day a second solution also presented itself. "B" also involves taking risks.
Cautious or Passionate?
Today I listened to David and Kristin Morelli's podcast on Passion with Chris Attwood. Passion gets your heart beating faster. It involves both fear and spontaneity. We hesitate to follow our passion because of both.
David reiterated a turning point for him. "I always stayed on the highway of life, never taking risks or chances. Then one day while driving from University to California for the summer, my friend suggested we get off the highway and explore this mountain. I never did anything off my well planned path. I was always cautious. I felt nervous, but did it anyways."*
He felt passionate and alive in the spontaneity of that moment. "I can remember it as one of the greatest, clearest moments of that trip."
I know how he feels, usually playing the safe route, never veering off course. I grew up to be cautious, to be responsible and to think before I act. Now that I am a mother, I teach my children the same thing so that they remain safe and aware. While safety is important, it doesn't leave much room for spontaneous fun.
Our children are amazing, spur-of-the-moment people. Our daughter will burst into song while eating breakfast. Our son will start rolling a ball on the table while eating dinner. They tease each other constantly, or try to get our big black lab to chase a new reflection or house fly, always laughing from deep in their belly. Both my husband and I want to laugh. However, responsibility quickly kicks in and we tell our daughter to get back to eating breakfast or our son to put the ball away until after dinner.
I know it is our role to raise good conscious citizens and remind them to be polite. But are we are sucking the life out of our passionate selves when we don't leave more room for spontaneous activity and laughter?
Passion is always there if you know where to look.
There have been times in my life that I had moments, even weeks, of spontaneous activity. Those moments are still clear and alive in my mind. One autumn I spent every weekend for almost two months skydiving out of a plane. It was such a source of passion that, during childbirth, I asked my husband to coach me back through the experience, visualizing it vividly, transforming the pain. Earlier in my life I recall loudly singing a song while driving, windows down, when a car full of guys ten years younger drove by. They laughed and waved, and almost joined in on the song. It was a moment sparked with life. These days when we travel there is always time for spontaneity, but I don't have it at home.
However, when I think back through my career, it seems that I've unconsciously stepped off the path at the right time. Because I've been open to opportunities and willing to change direction when something new came into view, I've had a rewarding passionate career. Now in a different phase of my career, I must remember this, for myself and for my children.
So I resolve to get unstuck. The rewards of stepping off the beaten path far outnumber the concerns. If I'm to do this, there are a couple things I've learned:
- Hard work helps you to stay on course, but leave room for new opportunities.
- Take action, for spontaneity has its own rewards.
- Consciously find time to be spontaneous. Plan it until it is natural.
- Children will learn responsibility, but they must also learn to love life. Always being careful does not give them permission to explore, learn and grow on their own path.
*edited for brevity