Change is inevitable. Change is constant. -Benjamin Disraeli
Yep, it’s again that day of the year.
An opportunity to look back with gratitude and acknowledge all the changes I’ve been through.
The ones I choose and the ones that I tried to avoid.
The delightful ones and the painful ones.
The ones that I embraced and the ones I resisted.
And also the ones that didn’t happen or I didn’t remember at all.
They all contribute to getting me where I am and making me who I am.
In this morning card, my friend Vanessa wrote, “if nothing else, you can rely on change“.
I want to use this birthday’s apple to celebrate “change”.
So, here’s to changes and to life.
When you’re finished changing, you’re finished. -Benjamin Franklin
“What would you jump into or out of if you were guaranteed success?”
With this question in mind, I’m writing today.
As soon as I read the question, I thought that it would be easy to answer.
Who doesn’t have a dream? Something we are not chasing because it’s too bold, or too risky.
So, I started seeking an answer only to find myself stuck.
Really, my mind is paralysed. I’ve been staring at the screen for a good five minutes, and nothing came up.
And then I felt it.
The fear of succeeding.
The fear of recognising that there is an incredible potential within that I’m not expressing. Did I waste it?
All these fears have created a cage of limiting beliefs. And I spent so much time in it that I got comfortable.
So now I struggle to imagine the world beyond.
But I know it’s possible. I had glimpses of that world. The world of possibilities.
It’s time to open the door and step out, into the light. It may burn at the beginning, but as soon as my eyes adjust, I know more wonder will manifest.
Have you ever get to work and then realise that you don’t remember the journey?
It’s a weird feeling to park the car and realise that I don’t remember driving there.
It also a proof of the incredible ability of our mind and body to create efficiency. Our mind creates patterns or habits to process things automatically and filter out the noise.
Our lives are full of habits, of a lot of them we may not be even aware.
But they are vital.
Without these patterns and filters, we would be overwhelmed by the amount of input flooding our senses and, in the end, stuck.
It is the upside of habits; we can do things without thinking.
But there’s a risk.
You get used to doing things a certain way and stop paying attention.
Efficiency can get in the way of growth and creativity.
That’s why we should mess things up every now and then.
When we feel stuck, it may be because of our patterns and filters making us see and do things the same way we always did.
Messing things up and creating some chaos forces our mind to reassess reality, to find new meanings and to discover new connections.
And once you’ve created mess and chaos, make them matter.
Make my messes matter.
Make this chaos count.
Let every little fracture in me
Shatter out loud.
— from Jupiter by Sleeping At Last
This morning BeThe Change card contains an invitation to listen at a deeper level. In a society where so many people struggle to be heard, being able to listen to others can make the difference.
The soul whispers.
While I was meditating on the questions that come with the card, one stood out: “In your situation who or what really wants to be listened to?”
I immediately knew the answer; me.
My soul is asking me to be listened to.
And this where it becomes complicated.
The soul whispers, while the mind and the heart can be so noisy.
So, here’s the question I’ve been pondering this morning.
How can I listen to my soul, past the chatter of my thinking mind and the loudness of my emotions?
The soul whispers.
And then it was there. The soul doesn’t speak. My soul whispers to me when I play an instrument letting my fingers go. When I write without an agenda. When I draw and doodle, allowing my hands to follow the intuition.
To listen, I need to create a space where my soul can whisper.
I love conversations. I’ve always been a prolific talker, and lately, I’m learning to be a better listener.
It may be naive to say, but if in a conversation everyone is talking, nobody is listening.
Though, as much as I love conversations, both with others and with myself, they are sterile if they don’t distil into action.
Words carry a lot of power, but it’s only when we act that we realise that power.
They say that every journey begins with one step.
But it has to be a step forward.
I’ve spent too much time running in place.
Jumping up and down and looking very busy but without going anywhere.
A step forward is scary.
It’s not just about moving a foot, we must commit to it with all our body.
We have to lose balance for a moment.
This is how our body works.
We fall forward, catch ourselves and then repeat.
If you’re not ready to fall, if you’re not prepared to fully commit to that step forward, you may end up running in place.
It may be excellent for your health, but it will take you nowhere.
Before the challenges of life – the small and personal ones, so close to us to fill up our vision, and the big ones that are shaping the future of humanity – we usually ask ourselves “what can I do?“.
What can I do for climate change? What can I do for the dear friend who’s going through a tough time? What can I do to be happier with my partner?
All powerful and essential questions without an easy answer.
As a result, too often the answer is “nothing“.
So, I am wondering. What if “what can I do” is the wrong question?
What if we turn the direction of our quest inward by asking “Who can I be“?
Or, if you want to make it more practical, then you should ask “How do I show up?“.
How do I show up amid climate change? How do I show up for my dear friend who’s going through a tough time? How do I show up with my partner?
But be aware, because these are challenging questions. They ask you to look inward, to check your intentions and, above all, you can’t use “nothing” as a valid answer.
Neither you can postpone the action that comes with the answer.
Because this is about your identity, your being.
“The word identity was originally derived from the Latin words essentitas, which means being, and identidem, which means repeatedly. Your identity is literally your repeated beingness.” — James Clear
The way you show up here and now, is how you show up every day in everything.
Sometimes I have the feeling that all our doing, our being busy, our effort in filling up our lives with things, with people, with experiences, it’s just a way to avoid listening to what wants to emerge.
You may give it different names depending on your culture and your upbringing; call, vocation, purpose.
Whatever the label you decide to use, you know what I’m talking about.
It is that feeling like when you fall in love with someone.
And no matter your will or your reasoning, it’s a force that pulls you towards the other person.
It is a beautiful feeling, but it is also scaring.
Because to live it fully we need to let go of our desire to control, we need to surrender and welcome the not knowing.
So, we fill up every space in our lives to block that force from emerging.
What if what wants to emerge is too challenging?
What if it pulls us towards places we don’t know how to reach?
What if it challenges us to step away from the things on which we built the lives we have?
And yet, can you think to something more blissful than falling in love?
What it takes is just slowing down a bit, taking a pause, a step back creating an opening in our crazy life, so we can make space for what wants to emerge.
This morning I draw a Be The Change card that says “Invite multiple perspectives“.
I’m well aware of the power of finding and having multiple perspectives on things. It is the only way to go beyond the “flat” reality created by our beliefs and assumptions, and give substance to the world.
But this card uses the verb “invite“.
So, it is not inviting me to seek new viewpoints. Instead, the card challenges me to draw different perspectives to my life.
The best way I know to do it is by creating space for a “conversation”.
An open and enriching conversation.
One in which everyone feels invited to contribute.
I’ve been lucky to experience the wonder of such conversations.
And I’ve learned that to make those conversations happen, we must direct our energy on creating the space for the conversation, not on having it.
It’s not about talking, it’s about being open and ready to listen.
If we create a listening space, then that space will draw multiple perspectives, and a transformative conversation will start.
In over two years of this morning practice, I had all kinds of days.
Some days I woke with so many ideas in my head that I don’t know where to start. Other days words flow out so quickly that I struggle to squeeze everything in a15 minutes writing slot. There are also days where I know what I want to write about, but I couldn’t find the words. And then there are days when my mind is dry, and I stare at the screen without any clues on where to start.
Luckily for me, I have the BeTheChange cards with me all the time.
What I do is to pick one and see what kind of emotions and thoughts the card generates in me.
There is one card in particular that I love. It’s a colourful card with the following words: “Kidfulness, remaining curious”.
The funny thing is that in many months using these cards, this one never came out. Never.
This morning is one of those in which I have an idea, but I couldn’t find the words. Yesterday I had a few conversations about the power of art. So, I woke up and I wanted to write about art and artists. But I didn’t know where to start.
No problem, I thought. I took my deck of cards, shuffle them as usual, and one fell.
So, now I have the idea of art in my mind and the word kidfulness before my eyes.
And I feel that there is a powerful connection there. That curiosity that comes from the need to find meaning in everything without knowing anything.
Artists and children teach us that the wonder comes from within.
“It is well known that humour, more than anything else in the human make-up, can afford an aloofness and an ability to rise above any situation, even if only for a few seconds.” – by Viktor Frankl in Man’s Search For Meaning
Here I am, with three minutes left of my fifteen-minutes writing slot and nothing to share. This morning I wanted to write about serious silliness – one of BeTheChange cards – and about the importance of infusing humour to our life.
But after more than ten minutes tapping on the keyboard, the result was a sequence of severe sentences. And it struck me how often, in the effort of being playful and seriously silly, I end up being ridiculously serious. It happens anytime I approach playfulness from the doing perspective. As a result, I bring my heaviness into what should be a playful experience.
Being seriously silly, it’s an attitude, a state of the being that infuses everything we do.
What does it mean to do something with a playful attitude?
So, my invitation for today is to be a little silly while doing serious stuff.