It’s a tumultuous time in the U.S. Lots of big emotions. Lots of deeply rooted pain. It can be tough finding a way forward.
Sometimes the next step you need to take is dramatic, big and radical.
But sometimes it’s so small and boring that it’s easy to justify continuing to avoid doing it. For me recently, that action was to buy a printer cartridge. Let me explain.
Like many a good life coach I love being coached by others as often as possible. (I’m also a fan of therapy, massage, spiritual retreats, meditation, uplifting podcasts, trees, journaling and lately, also poetry and exercise.)
Sometimes I take in all these things as if they are my water, air, and food and feel deeply nourished.
Other times, I can feel that rather than taking them in I am grasping desperately for one or more of them to fill me up and nothing does. In those times, often what I actually need to do is stop trying so hard to find “the way” and just, well, stop. Put my bare feet in the grass, lean against a tree, watch unimportant T.V., or paint my toenails and choose to trust that what I need is actually already here, or it will be. In either case my striving isn’t going to bring it any faster.
But sometimes I find that what is in the way of the joy, or peace, or clarity, or impact I’m seeking is actually a practical, boring, unsexy, seemingly unspiritual item on my “to do” list.
The latter was the case for me recently when what was in the way of my next step towards a vibrant, impactful life was a printer cartridge.
Or, more specifically, the lack of a printer cartridge.
I am in a course that is designed to help me to increase my capacity to do the big work I want to do in the world with joy. Week 1 I had an assignment that involved printing out a list of words to represent who I am “becoming” – my future self, the woman I sense that I am meant to be. We did some writing and imagining and then we were supposed to print a beautifully-designed page and put it up somewhere where we’d see it every day for the next five weeks.
I did the meditation. I did the worksheet, but I did not print or post it. Not because I forgot or because my inner child was resistant to the exercise. I didn’t complete the assignment because my printer was out of ink—which had been the case for several weeks.
I found this quite interesting because one of the words that came up multiple times for me in doing the exercise about “who I am becoming” was FREE. Free, free, free, free. I am becoming FREE.
Except I wasn’t FREE to print my assignment.
Noticing how this small inaction limited my freedom made me start to ask the question, “Where else am I not free to be who I most long to be or free do what I want to do because there is some small, uninteresting, unsexy action that is my next step and I haven’t taken it?”
You too? Do you have one?
Then I noticed a couple of areas where I HAVE been free lately as a result of small, boring actions that I don’t much like doing. Like I was free to feel amazing in my “power dress” because I’ve been exercising more regularly. And I was free to create new articles and blog posts because I’ve been writing every morning from 6:30-7:00 am. And I was free to buy new shoes because I’ve been tracking my spending and following a budget.
Part of me is still VERY resistant to ALL of these actions.
Todd Brison, author of The Creative’s Curse says, what creatives fear more than anything is a cage. I’m not sure whether I qualify as “a creative,” but I sure do hate cages, rules, and boring, uninspiring actions.
But I like freedom. And I want to make a difference in the world. My guess is that you do too. If you want to change the world, you’re probably not a big fan of small, boring actions.
But you can’t print without a printer cartridge.
And now more than ever our world needs you, me, all of us, living in all the fullness of who we’re meant to be.
Did something come to mind for you as you’ve been reading? Not a big project with multiple steps, but one next step that for some reason you just keep NOT doing? Your “order the printer cartridge” action?
For the sake of the kids in your class, for the women and girls who are being silenced, the brown and black boys whose lives are in danger every day, for the earth that is crying out for our care, for your own private joy. For whoever or whatever matters to YOUR heart. I hope you’ll join me in doing that next little step. It won’t seem like enough and it may not seem like it matters, but it does.
A tiny adjustment to the rudder of a ship can lead to a totally new destination.
Here’s to thriving!