Life Shattered Wide Open
As this wonderfully peculiar Sunday comes to a close I find myself reflecting on how profoundly the previous four decades of my life have been propelled by a defective story, one of lack, laced with fear.
It’s truly a remarkable moment of clarity to bare witness to on this day, at this place in my life. Like you, I’ve had my ups and my downs—some brilliant high points and some devastating lows—but that’s the nature of life, the texture, right? All in all, even as my eyes continue to open, it’s been a truly wonderful life.
A few months ago I enjoyed the great mis-fortune of slamming my life, gradually and suddenly, at full-speed into a stout brick wall, promptly shattering it into a million pieces. As the weeks have passed at the pace of stoned turtle this once tragic, painful accident has morphed into a blessed, transformative gift and I find myself less splintered than fractured open. Open to face and embrace a reality, a truth, a life that I’ve lived with gusto and bravado, more often to avoid than to experience.
What’s also remarkable (sticking with the theme) to me is that I’ve always known it—known that something wasn’t quite right—that my life experience lacked the ease and peace that I could see in some others. Well, I can’t say for sure I’ve always known it but certainly for the last few decades I’ve sensed that I had an itch that needed scratching. An itch that keeps me uncomfortable, ill at ease.
But, like most smart, logical, driven people I figured that enough money, enough success, the right cars, the drop-dead gorgeous wife, the big house… would most certainly scratch it. So I worked at success and achievement—for extra measure I even sculpted my body and chiseled out a six pack of abs that would make Michelangelo green with envy.
And it worked! For awhile, some of the time. Until it didn’t.
And when it didn’t, when the itch reared up and bothered me I worked some more, worked out, sculpted a better set of abs or drove my car real fast, bought some new clothes, built a new website, jumped out of perfectly good airplane or something. There was always some next, some better, some faster.
There’s nothing short of a billion ways to scratch an itch, of this I can assure you.
Then came the brick wall. Remember the brick wall. Between you and I, I think I got tired of scratching. It just wasn’t working any more and it wasn’t really very fun. Certainly it wasn’t rewarding.
As my life hurled through the air in the vivid slow motion that we experience traumatic events, I became more and more clear on the source of the itch, the nagging discomfort, a sense that I am “not enough.”
That’s really what the remarkable experience of life has been about for me—not enough. I’m not talking about not fast enough, not fit enough, not smart enough. I’ve systematically and quite skillfully handled most all those. I mean, quite literally, “not enough.” And that’s a hell of a lot more “not” than all those others combined!
That’s the story of “lack” I’ve held on to, the tape that has played in my head day after freaking day for as long as I can remember. And while I’ve certainly known and shown fear and insecurity my experience has been more one of confidence, excellence and even superiority. Which, as I’m sure you can see (embarrassingly it’s taken me near my whole life) I’ve done just about everything within my power as a human being to prove to myself and anyone else who would listen that I am enough—more than enough.
(Ironically, as I write this I know that even “more than enough” isn’t even enough. How you like them apples?)
This need to excel, to be “better than the best” does have an upside. It can propel some serious action and generate some extraordinary results.
I suspect it contributed early on to me building a strong, impressive body and why I gravitated towards sports, where I could excel physically. I wanted to increase the odds that you’d see me as “good enough,” and if you doubted my story you’d sure as hell not dare say so. Ha…
It also explains why I invested a full year and a million dollars to create a great enough formula to be “Full Strength.” Extraordinary is my minimum standard. And I’m happy to do whatever it takes to exceed that standard. I imagine this is the sort of obsession that’s driven the great creators, like Edison, throughout time. (not that I’m comparing nutrition to the light bulb, not my point wise guy!)
So, I write a brilliant book (if I do say so myself), and make a the best nutrition meal you can enjoy anywhere. That you can be sure of. That’s the good news. But—always a but—I’m burning me and everyone else around me out, at alarming rates, by aiming far above normal standards.
There’s nothing like a lousy story combined with a strong work ethic to activate the martyr gene. If someone else could do a decent job of something in 30 minutes, I could do it 10 times as great in 30 days!
So, on I went; aiming high, being hyper-driven for perfection, getting my hair right before I leave to workout, making sure that my Audi was clean and the Prada pressed. All nice things but perhaps not all necessary.
Because gol darn it, I want people to like me. And maybe, just maybe, if I can get enough people to buy into the story that I’m “good enough” I’ll even trick someone into loving me.
Ah… but that’s a bit of a reach, I know. But you know, “Aim high!,” right?
Yeah, good stuff. If you’re trying to avoid being drafted for war but when it comes to living a life, having time for joy, family and such, it’s not such a great strategy. And truth is, it’s just not any fun.
The price of the rewards are too high for the temporary return. And the feeling of success never seems to stick. Hell, I remember getting my last book done and rather than celebrate I was already on to the next thing, the next project. Saying, “What now?”
What most makes me both want to laugh and cry about is that I know this stuff… I’ve done a lot or work with the “limit setting” center of our subconscious mind with some of the leading teachers and experts in the field. And thankfully my brain works so damned well that I understand it. But here’s just another example of how over valued understanding is. Getting it in your head isn’t always getting it in your life.
Where this mis-information, the fear (False Experience that Appears Real) comes from or why I’ve held on to it so tightly, is not all that important at this moment. We could spend the next decade shedding light on that and I’d still be telling myself the same defective story in HD-stereo. So, best to get on with it. Move forward; leverage this opportunity, this crack in the shell, to break in and mess with that messed up story.
So, What’s a Man To Do?
When you come to the fork in the road, do you take it?
Seriously, when you find something in your life that’s no longer working, how do you go about making real, lasting change?
Do you wake up—I mean seriously f*&king wake-up like your life depends on it or do you give it the good ol’ college try and go right back to sleep?
Well, I’m here to tell ya dude, life is what happens to you when you’re not paying attention. And being “happened to” generally sucks.
And there’s only one way to change that, to get life to start happening for you and that’s to wake up.
This as your invitation to WAKE-UP! To turn down the distracting sound in your head and tune your full attention to K-R-E-A-L… the reality station.
Waking-Up: The First Step
The first step, in many ways the biggest hurdle will look something like the sharing above; seeing and becoming keenly aware of what “it” is, how it’s been working and why it’s not now.
That’s about brutal honesty—getting real. It’s a bit like a deep inner version of the “before” photo from a Body for LIFE challenge. The “Get Real” phase.
Next comes your full, open embrace. For the end of resistance marks a new beginning. Or as Eckhart Tolle says, “Bad transforms to good through the power of non-resistance.”
Most people find releasing resistance unsettling, sort of counter-intuitive. Especially driven people who know how to fight for what they want. To them “surrender” is giving up. Which could not be further from the truth.
“Giving up,” is the opposite of “giving in.” To cease the fight, stop resisting what ever is up for you; be it your health and fitness, diet, relationship, family, or your life; is the foundation for true Strength. Only through surrender do you have a fighting chance.
I appreciate you taking this in and sharing your valued attention. I also know that I’m not alone in facing life’s challenges—that life dishes the best of us lemons now and then. And we get to decide if we’ll make lemonade of them or just chew on them and tear up.
For me, as for many of you out there reading this now, I know times are tough. And there’s be times you don’t know if you can go on.“But on you will go though the weather be foul. On you will go though your enemies prowl…” ~ As the good Dr. Seuss reminds us.
Facing life head-on, taking on challenges whatever they are, with a strong fist and open heart is what’s Strength is for.
Tune in, if you dare, for the next installment of the journey: The Strength of Surrender: Why Giving In is not Giving Up.