Coming home from a cross-country trip recently, I found myself disparaging familiarity. Things around me felt too known, things I experienced felt too common. I have always been one to avert sameness, and it struck me with a two-by-four when I came home from the airport. I get to just be with myself, however I show up.
Nietzsche once concluded, “Everything goes, everything comes back. Eternally rolls the wheel of being. Everything dies, everything blossoms again…” I get to remember that whenever I’m feeling heaviness in the complacency of daily life. All of these moments that I suffer, all of the ones that I relish in, all of them go away… and come back around again. There’s nothing wrong or right in that—it simply is what it is, and works the way it works.
There are a couple different ways I go through the feelings I have when things become too familiar. These are ways I have seen myself be, and seeing them has allowed me to be with me more easily.
- Disruption. When I disrupt things I seek to massively change them, make them different. Sometimes I use explosives and other times I use a ramrod. I exert my force in order to push assertively into the world within and around me.
- Suffering. I know how to stew. Some people call it “sitting on your pity pot.” When I sit this way my soul calls for tenderness and soothing, as the fires boil so hot within that only turning down the heat can cool me off.
- Movement. Different than disruption, movement uses the law of motion to exert an action in expectation of an equal and opposite reaction. Movement is more gradual and peace-filled than disruption.
- Resting. Rather than suffer, there are times when I simply rest within myself in order to gather strength, absorb the moment, and embrace the positive aspects of familiarity. In time, resting in the feelings I feel has become a comforting practice, but I often went through suffering in order to get there.
All of these different approaches lead to outcomes that may or may not benefit me. That isn’t usually the point. Go through the feelings I feel and simply being with where I am is the point. Remembering that all things come and go in the ways that is life does is the point. That’s what Nietzsche came to that, and I can arrive there too.
Being doesn’t mean having to get still or forcing silence in your life. We are humans being, and as such, many of us have things to do.
That means that planning, changing, living, standing, staying, accelerating, acting, anticipating, attaining, averting, building, caring, collaborating, conceiving, contracting, cultivating, dedicating, mobilizing, navigating, obtaining, practicing, reducing, reserving, stimulating, sustaining, undoing, recognizing, nurturing, scanning, enlarging, repairing, traveling, moving, dreaming, contributing, unifying, withdrawing, activating, energizing, simplifying, clarifying, decreasing, correcting, zoning out, running, staying, leaving, negotiating, observing, creating, sleeping… These aren’t just doing, they’re being.
These are all just activities that we do, and by doing them we’re being who we are. They aren’t right or wrong; they just are. Don’t try to stop doing; start being in the doing.
Being in the doing means learning to embrace every moment as it presents itself, not trying to manipulate it, reframe it, or deconstruct it into become something else. You don’t need to sit in any particular position or align yourself with any particular direction. Instead, you simply get to be with you, however you show up. Some people try to change themselves, their circumstances, or the beliefs they think are driving their situations. Engaging within yourself sometimes means accepting you simply as you show up. That doesn’t mean you cannot change—on the contrary, it may mean that you need to! But at its core, it simply means that you get to learn to live with yourself, however you are right now. You may not like that person, and that may be your work.
The psychologist Abraham Maslow once wrote, “The sacred is in the ordinary…it is to be found in one’s daily life, in one’s neighbors, friends, and family, in one’s own backyard…travel may be a flight from confronting the scared—this lesson can be easily lost. To be looking elsewhere for miracles is to me a sure sign of ignorance that everything is miraculous.” The Heartspace Teachings encourage grasping the profane in the regular, or simply allowing ourselves to understand that ordinary life is sacred.
If you want to be with you, observe how you are in different moments of duress. Do you do things like I do? Do you do your own things? See your shadows, hold the mirror up to yourself, and be who you are. My work in personal engagement isn’t about becoming; it’s about being. I know that becoming something else happens, but I don’t need to make it happen. Instead, I simply get to be with where I’m at right now.
Just be with you. It might mean the exact same thing.
Every day we wake and choose a mask to wear. Either on purpose or by accident, we wear the Parent mask, Worker, Friend, Child, or Neighbor mask, or others, and combinations of all those. There are others too, including Sufferer, Hero, Lazer, Energizer, Sicker, and Special, among others. You, today, wore these masks.
They’re masks because they’re chosen, assumed, or assigned identities. But they aren’t really us, no matter what they’re saying.
At the center of you beats a heart so pure and true that you simply rely on it without knowing it. But it knows you and shows you every time you look who you really are. It’s that part of you that connects with others’ Heartspace, and it’s that part of you that is universally engaged.
Sound foreign to you? Think it’s b.s.? That’s okay, you don’t have to believe.
But the next time you wake up with your World Changer mask on, or your Preacher, Teacher, Hurter, or Pleaser masks, just remember that you’re none of that for real. You’re really You, and so much more.
Welcome to You. And that part is true- you’re the one you’ve been waiting for. Now get to work! There’s a lot ahead.
It’s another rainy late fall day in Olympia, and I’m feeling a bit restless. This fall has brought a spectacularly busy array of projects into my life, and I’m really enjoying myself. Hannah and I have had some quality times, my house is in good order, and I’ve spent time outdoors. My brain has even been freed up to deal with some projects that have fallen to the wayside, like my unpublished books (4!) and business accounting and friendships and whatnot. All in all, its been a good season.
So, today I’m releasing the drumbeat, letting go of the whittling voice, and relaxing. No matter what they appear as, how I feel, or what I think, things are what they are right here, right now. I don’t have to convince myself that there is no other place I’d rather be, and when I’m ready to go somewhere else I will. But for right now, I get to chill.
Watching television, flipping through the Internet, listening to blaring music on your commute: these things can suffocate our engagement with the world. They act like dampeners, numbing and hollowing our souls and disallowing us from connecting to other people in meaningful, substantive and significant ways.
Every person should try to name what those things are for themselves. If you want to name how you are the problem, ask yourself these question:
- What makes me feel less connected to the world around me and within me?
- What pushes me away from myself and others?
As soon as you answer those questions, you can reverse the disengagement. You can stand up to the things that choke you off from sustainable connections and form them again in your own life. You are the answer to your questions.
4 Steps To Answer Your Own Questions
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”― Howard Thurman
If you want to see the ways that you can challenge your own problems, think about these things:
- What makes you come alive?
- Who inspires you?
- When do you feel passionate?
- Where do your emotions feel calmest?
The Talmud says “Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.” (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5; Yerushalmi Talmud 4:9)
You can save the entire world by engaging within yourself and throughout the world around you. You are the problem and the answer, and nothing is stopping you but you.
Go to work.
You Might Like…
- Personal Engagement Tip Sheets by Adam Fletcher
- An Introduction to Heartspace: The Engine of Personal Engagement
Adam Fletcher is available to train, coach, speak, and write about Personal Engagement across the US and Canada. Contact him to learn about the possibilities!
Throwaway connections rule a lot of peoples’ experiences of engagement. Whether thinking about their families, friends, jobs, communities, volunteering, or social relationships, these folks don’t invest the time, energy, or resources necessary to establish genuine engagement. Instead, in their convenience-based approach, they look for the connections that fit the moment best without consideration for longevity.
The essence of engagement is sustainability, which is the ability to last. Engagement can happen in an instant, if the connection made has the ability to last. Connections can be picked up and dropped off at will, they can just last a flicker and then be gone- but that isn’t engagement.
Western society conditions us to treat engagements in our life like items in supermarkets, things that we can just pick up and experiences we can just have, and then throw them away when we’re done. However, we’re all capable of having relationships that are bigger than that.
Saul Alinsky once wrote, “Life is an adventure of passion, risk, danger, laughter, beauty, love; a burning curiosity to go with the action to see what it is all about, to go search for a pattern of meaning, to burn one’s bridges because you’re never going to go back anyway, and to live to the end.” If your adventure is one of fleeting, momentary connections then live it that way, but don’t pretend you’re engaged in Heartspace. If your life is a lasting connection to the adventure of life itself, and not to the parts therein, then live it that way, and live from Heartspace. But whatever you do, do not pretend you’re engaged in something in a grander way than you actually are, if only because you’ll block out genuine engagement when it does happen.
Engagement is capable of bringing us to unknown dimensions, places within ourselves, with others, and throughout our world that are above and beyond our own minds, instead inhabiting Heartspace. We cannot go there through supermarket engagement through. Instead, we have to invest ourselves in sustaining the connections that matter most to us. Knowing Heartspace, we nurture and build, transform and revolutionize our approaches to life in order to embrace the experiences, ideas, knowledge, people, and places that speak deepest to us. Those sustained connections form the basis of genuine engagement. That’s why we’re alive.
Newton’s law teaches us that to every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction. Karma is credited with cause and effect, which my dad has summed up as, “Do good things and good things happen.” Bono once wrote a song in which he sang, “It’s always darkest before the dawn.”
We wrestle with this duality constantly. Its like we’re trying to figure out whether our attitudes, beliefs, ideas, experiences, knowledge, and wisdom are worth everything we go through while we’re going through them. Maybe things seem crappy, so we want them to be better. Maybe they seem wonderful and we’re suspicious they’ll change anytime. We pass judgment about them all the time, naming them good or bad, up or down, positive or negative.
There’s a story about a farmer who had a horse that ran away one day. When his neighbor heard, he came to visit and said, “That sucks,” to which the farmer replied, “Maybe.” The next morning the horse came back and brought three wild horses with it. The neighbor said, “That’s awesome!” “Maybe,” said the farmer. The next day the farmer’s son tried to ride one of the wild horses and was thrown. His leg was broken, and the neighbor again came to offer his sympathy. “Maybe,” said the farmer. The day after that the military came to draft the young man into the army. Seeing that his leg was broken, they passed up the farmer’s son. The neighbor congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. “Maybe,” said the farmer.
Maybe at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter whether we’re positive or negative. Maybe what matters is that we live life to its wholest and fullest without trying to control and manipulate it to become what we want it to be.
|A picture of me walking in the Vermont outdoors last week,
taken by Skip Coon from Mississippi.
My heart, my soul, and my spirit call in legion for me to come down, relax my mind’s attempts to comprehend and understand, and simply be. Relax. Calm the heck down and just be with the pictures around me, the images within me, and the world I live in. I don’t have to know, I don’t have to struggle or comprehend, I don’t have to demand or understand. Instead, I just see.
|Lone Rock Point, Vermont.|
One can’t stand on the shores of Lake Champlain and not feel the vastness of it all. Since the first time I saw it, I’ve thought Champlain is the perfect size. It’s big enough to see across and imagine canoeing to the other side, yet vast enough to draw longing sighs from my mind as I wonder what’s on the other side.
Sometimes in the vastness of big things I feel the silence of silence. The calm retreat of everyday life sets in, and without disgrace, disapproval, or expectation, the easy reassurance of silence wraps around me and comforts me. I do not meditate to go there and I know that its appearance will get away from me quick enough, but while there’s quiet, I enjoy it.
I spent the last week in a retreat center overlooking the lake near Lone Rock Point, just outside Burlington, Vermont. The Point is a giant overlook with a clear day’s view that settles out across the lands, led to by an awesome cedar grove. On the pathway there one morning, a kind of spiritual oppressiveness set in on me as I was forced by nature to rest into myself and be quiet in my mind’s heart. The nature called my Heartspace forth, drawing my spirit upward and my feet further into the earth as I walked. As the voice was taken from my mouth and head, a quieter, more solemn wisdom whispered into me, and I listened.
Throughout all of our days there are rotating moments of silence and silencing. The silence may be welcomed, brought forth through incantation or incentive. When it is drawn over us by another person, place, space or time, silence happens through silencing. Silencing is often suffered, forced onto us through subtlety or crass oppression. All the same, it is real and happens within and outside us constantly.
We get to decide how to experience life in every moment. Whether they call us further into ourselves, release us towards the Universe, or cause us to empathize with others is our choice. Some people suffer painfully from having their voices taken from their mouths but live wildly full lives with the voices in their hearts and mind, while others rely on silence to connect with greatness. Others live in what Sylvia Plath called “the silence of silence”, distinguished from “my own silence”. The silence of silence draws us within and around at the same time, letting us see the whole view and the intense insides at the same time.
We can all learn to revel in silence and let it reveal things to us. Are you ready? I am.
In his book, Illusions, Richard Bach wrote, “I am tired of clinging. Though I cannot see it with my eyes, I trust that the current knows where it is going.” That’s a lesson of Heartspace.