They say a journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step. The first step leads to the next and the next and then before you know it you are well on your way. But to where?
I read a post on Facebook by someone who felt that Donald Trump was an individual that could do great harm. And this person felt compelled to speak out against him. I found the contrasts between these two individuals really interesting. One had reached a position of great power, the other felt they had no option but challenge that power and his intentions publicly. I found myself completed to write a reply to the post ……..
“I have a belief that as human beings have evolved over millions of years the “need” to work has come to be transformed into something different in the modern world. We have come to see “work” as interchangeable with making money, developing a career, starting/running a business, gaining an advantage over others, even gaining great power. In this context remunerated work is only one type of the work we have to do every day to survive and thrive. I know that making a difference, making a contribution is very important to you … this is also “work” and you should approach it in the same deliberate, considered and determined way you would approach your paid work.
The bit of my work I get paid for involves walking and taking with clients in Scotland – as I developed this idea, what became apparent, is sometimes we miss the real value of what we have to offer the world. Until a few months ago I was still working as a (life/business) coach using Skype to work with people all around the world. But that meant I was glued to a quite room day after day.
I decided I could not live another day like that … not one more day and so I quit. I went for a very long walk and during it I decided I needed to “go on an adventure” … I soon identified a destination and started training/preparing – to run a 1000 miles through the UK and France. As this progressed I shared my story on Facebook etc and soon rediscovered (1) my authentic self again (2) there are people who are interested in Scotland and wish to visit who are also interested in or in need of personal development. In the process of going out everyday walking, running, taking photos and reporting how I was getting on I discover that people would be willing to come from the other side of the world to visit Scotland and join me on a walk where we have a conversation, we’d do a bit of coaching and cooking and we’d try out a different sort of consciousness …. you could say we “walked together mindfully”.
Anyway, the latest iteration of this I’ve called “Soul Walking” and it took a fair bit of courage to stick to it. Even more difficult was when people asked me “what do you do”? I’d say “my job is to reconnect people to their soul, via the soles of their feet”. Soul to sole. I trust my soul will take me along the path that is right for me. The path to happiness will be guided by an essential truth and we have to be quite, still and ready to listen to it.
Now back to you. I know you are angry and frustrated and in the old days I’d have said something like “I can help you” …. today I’d simply say “take some time out. Go find a quite place and still your mind. You have important work to do and it’s not to be distracted by the the noise that you hear outside but the inner voice that wants to help you walk your path.”
I though this said enough but someone wrote to me asking to expand on what I had written so I added….
Firstly I wanted Ann to listen to what her own voice is telling her. Not listen to everyone else’s advice… the irony of that statement is accepted of course. I also wanted to say that sometimes we shout at the world and it’s a sign of our frustration at our lack of control. We all want to live in a better world, a fairer world, and more compassionate world. And we lose sight of the fact that the world is very old and we are so very young. We forget that long after we are gone the world will still be here. We forget that we are only one in several billion and the world isn’t just about us and our outrage. If we are to find peace, joyfulness, love .. we have to find our place. I was a pretty successful Inspirational Speaker, and through this, I got involved with some really fascinating and wonderful projects that made a real difference to people’s lives and I guess I started to think I could “fix the world”. In time, that hubris led to the point that I became angry and frustrated that people wouldn’t just follow my prescription . I “knew” how to make their world a better place. Why were people being so lazy and cynical and and ….. I’ve realised it’s all a journey, Ying and Yang. I feel the anger and frustration of people like Ann and I want to help, I really do .. but the only advice I can really give is ” wind your neck in.” See the bigger picture: Humans, in one form or another, have been around for 2 to 3 million years, our species about 200,000 years. It takes time but we are making progress.
You may feel someone or something is a barrier to that process yet what can you do? Except perhaps give voice to your rage. We have some huge challenges to face and we each, if we chose to, have something very valuable to add but do we need to be so angry? Or frustrated? The frustration we feel at what is happening out there should be understood as a realisation that we are a small part of something much much bigger than us. That is why I take people walking in Scotland … walking in hills that have been worn down to stumps over millions of years. Seeing rocks lying on their side, stacked up layer upon layer that were once the bottom of an Ocean. Seeing the remains of Stone Age settlements, the remains of the walls that defined the furthest reach of the long gone Roman Empire. Seeing the ruined one room stone workshop that James Watt developed the condensing chamber for the Steam Engine that changed the world. Walking around Edinburgh or Glasgow and realising men and woman have lived incredible lives world shaping lives here over many centuries …. It’s when we can successfully align two journeys, two great stories – the long story of our species with the very short story of me(I) that we will find the path we need to take. We realise that our lives can count, we can add something to the sum total of “our story” but often our contribution is not what we imagine it will or should be. We have to learn our life’s purpose, as a delicate thing, a quite thing, a gentle thing. And if we are so angry and frustrated then that beautiful part of us, that can make such a difference, is simply drowned out under the noise.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” So said Dr Martin Luther King. If all we ever are is angry, or full of our own importance we are condemned to a path of anger and frustration. And the other guy? He’s “winning”. I have no wish to tell other people how to live their lives … I just wish to share what I am feeling, seeing and have learned. I believe we need to find the balance in our lives between finding joy, doing rewarding work and contributing in a meaningful and fulfilling way … that is our life’s work … and only some of it will be paid work. The rest we do for another type of reward. We each have to find our own path – yet I want to share with those that are finding it difficult, frustrating, scary this truth – it is possible to find peace even in the eye of this great storm. … in my experience, if we seek our own peace and find it … we will find how we can make a difference. When we find that calmness we can see that a little shift here or there can make so much difference …. think about it as “life judo”. Finally, perhaps we are not here so much as to “make a difference” as to be a vital part in the emerging growth and development of our world. When I lived in France I used to love that the French would not say “good luck” but “Bonne Courage”.. I believe finding our way in the future will not require luck but courage – and to find courage we must learn to let our soul guide us.