“When you are on a journey, it is certainly helpful to know where you are going, or at least the general direction in which you are moving, but don’t forget: the only thing that is ultimately real about your journey is the step that you are taking at this moment.”
Salient advice offered by spiritualist Eckhart Tolle in his groundbreaking masterpiece titled “The Power of Now.” It’s somewhat obvious, yet how often do we find ourselves at each crossroad yearning to know “What’s next?”
In Western culture, the tendency has been to “stay the course” once we’ve settled in to a conventional framework. There’s an inclination or expectation on multiple levels to follow pre-established norms, customs and family traditions set forth by those who’ve preceded us.
Generally speaking, as a society, we seem to have placed an inordinate amount of value upon comfort, security, and the predictability of knowing what lies ahead. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that billions of dollars and innumerable resources are exchanged each day, capitalizing on the perception and outcome of these misbegotten certitudes.
Subsequently, we find that the challenges encountered along our life-path appear to be random and unexpected in nature, but that’s not always the case.
Personally, one of the more memorable occasions in which I came face-to-face with this reality was some years ago, after I’d taken what most would consider an unthinkable “leap of faith” by leaving a well-paying job in corporate America after nearly two decades. I made the leap with little warning.
Five years removed from a divorce, childless, and soon to turn 40, I guess one might suggest that the timing was ripe for a significant life-change. The only things left to decide at that point were what to do, and where to do it.
For the answer to those questions and countless others, I sought the advice of a former colleague and media executive, Dr. Rachel Mueller-Lust, who had herself made the proverbial jump some years back.
So successful was she in her own transition that she now assists others in doing so as a professional consultant. In a blog post titled, Nurturing Braveness for Change, she shares: “A huge reason people don’t make changes is they are boxed in by what they think they are ‘supposed to do.’ Worst of all, the thought ‘What will people say?’ is enough to scare most otherwise reasonable humans away from change.”
She later adds “For most people, even those who appear very confident, change brings you into unknown territories. Unknown means that you might not have control.”
It was that last statement that I found to be most revealing. What had prompted me to make the jump in the first place was the simultaneous convergence of two key factors; one of which appeared to be completely out of my control, the other, much more of my own volition.
The relatively small company that I had devoted countless hours to each week over the course of a decade had been absorbed by a much larger corporate entity for the second time in three years. Though my supervisory position was deemed “safe” by upper management, after each transition period, those remaining found ourselves in uncharted territory, with little resemblance to the congenial workplace we once knew.
The other driving force behind the departure was simply an insatiable desire to explore my full potential as a writer. With several published stories, a short film produced, and an episode ready for submission to the sci-fi television series The X-Files; I was no longer satisfied with dipping my toes in the water. I was ready to take the plunge!
As I was quick to find, unlike so many easily “definable” professions, referring to oneself as “a writer” leaves the door wide open for interpretation. Ultimately, where I found the greatest source of validation came from within. Relinquishing the reins of control and surrendering to “what will be, will be” took a lot of courage.
Without a roadmap to follow or a clear “plan of action;” the obstacles I inevitably encountered were daunting, and at times, completely overwhelming. Yet, as is the case with most “obstructions” we encounter, there come seemingly endless opportunities for us to evolve and find out what we are truly capable of accomplishing in life.
Lao-tzu, the ancient Being of Chinese wisdom, and author of the epic text referred to as the Tao Te Ching, captures the essence of my critical decision and subsequent capitulation rather perfectly when he states: “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”