“If we are going to do anything significant with life, we sometimes have to move away from it - beyond the usual measurements. We must occasionally follow visions and dreams.”
~Bede Jarrett (1881-1937)
This morning, I posted that quotation to my Facebook page. I had received it in an email from Foundation For A Better Life, one of several sources I have set up to automatically "fill my bucket" every day. (You can subscribe >here< for their "Today's Quote" email - some will resonate more than others but I find they are usually spot on for me)
When sharing ideas like that, I always enjoy seeing the "likes" from people, letting me know that they appreciate, and will perhaps apply, the energy for which I have been a conduit.
About an hour after I posted the quotation, I received this message from a friend...
And I know that he is actually voicing the challenge faced by many people ... "I tried to follow my dreams, but that didn't work out! Now what??""Hey johnny..just read your second latest quotes on" usual measurements".. what exactly defines usual measurements? Is that the conformity of what society expects you do? The reason why I ask is cuz through my 20s, and into my early 30s I tried to what the quote is suggested by following a vision and dream. But know I find myself losing that vision for sense of following the idea of usual measurements. So is the quote suggesting not to follow some type of social conformity or is a sense of usual measurements whatever you want it to be? Or can "usual measurements" overlap with dreams and vision? Sorry I know I'm looking to deep into it, it is only cuz I'm trying to relate it to myself..."
"You are understanding it exactly. Sometimes you have to step out of the usual societal norms and listen to your intuition. The trick is that you will still get whatever you get. I feel that you are always comparing how things are to how you wish they were. That is a trap. Find the best in how things are. Always. Then strive for whatever you want, but don't attach your happiness to a specific outcome. Be happy anyways. Always."
People often argue with that last part - Be happy anyways. Always. - saying, "Sounds great, but that is so hard to do!" And they are 100% correct, as long as they choose to continue believing that. Or, they could just "dive in" and honestly try being happy. Anyways. Always.
When I was living in my pickup truck through much of 2009 and bits of 2010, a friend said...
"Johnny, you cannot honestly tell me you are happy right now. You lost all of your money, your house, your marriage. You are living in your truck, bartending for a tiny fraction of the income you are used to. I appreciate the brave face, but you must be terribly unhappy about everything!"
Without thinking, I answered...
"See, that is just it! I am already broke, homeless and alone. Why the fuck would I want to add "unhappy" to that list???"
And I meant it! I WAS happy. I had a roof over my head - albeit a fiberglass one covering an air mattress in the bed of my truck. I had a job - working with good, fun, kind people who were also getting by just fine on a fraction of what I was used to making. And I still had a great relationship with my erstwhile-wife, Karen, thanks to extraordinary efforts by both of us, and a refusal to buy into the societally-prescribed marital-combatants role.
I often reflected (and still do) on this wonderful thought, from Anthony De Mello, that I read many years ago, and have always kept top of mind...
"There's only one reason why you're not experiencing bliss at this present moment, and it's because you're thinking or focusing on what you don't have. Otherwise you would be experiencing bliss. You're focusing on what you don't have. But, right now you have everything you need to be in bliss."
Every single day you wake up with much more right with you than wrong. You can breathe. You can probably see, and even if you can't that is only one thing you have lost, not everything. Any time I forget this, I read the spectacular essay "Glory In The Highest" by Rob Brezsny (in fact, I read it regularly anyway, so I tend to not forget!). I highly recommend you click >Glory In The Highest< and read the whole thing, but here is his conclusion ...
Let’s say it’s 9:30 a.m. You’ve been awake for two hours, and a hundred things have already gone right for you. If three of those hundred things had not gone right—your toaster was broken, the hot water wasn’t hot enough, there was a stain on the pants you wanted to wear—you might feel that today the universe is against you, that your luck is bad, that nothing’s going right. And yet the fact is that the vast majority of everything is working with breathtaking efficiency and consistency. You would clearly be deluded to imagine that life is primarily an ordeal.
The funny thing is that, as straightforward an idea as that is, so many people have trouble accepting and embracing it. We are taught from birth to focus on what we don't have. To make our happiness conditional on having or doing something. To constantly pine and strive and wish. As poisonous as anything are our lottery ads. Canada' national 6-49 lottery tells us to "imagine the freedom".
If only I won the lottery, then I could be that happy and experience freedom. Bullshit! Your happiness and freedom would last for about a day, until a whole new set of problems set in.
Do you want freedom? Then take responsibility for your life. Literally, practice your ABILITY to choose your RESPONSE. In Victor Frankl's incredible book "Man's Search For Meaning" (read this book!!), he explains where true freedom lies. And he wasn't dealing with burnt toast or lottery jackpots missed by a few numbers. He was a holocaust survivor. An accomplished psychiatrist who went from a comfortable life to a concentration camp where he witnessed death and horrors every day. While in Auschwitz, his wife, mother and brother were all murdered. Still, he concluded...
You can choose your response to absolutely anything that happens in your life. And here is the crucial bit - once it has happened, it has happened. Period. You cannot change it. So, why CHOOSE to be miserable? Why choose to waste your energy wishing it were different? All of your power and all of your freedom comes from choosing to respond powerfully and positively to every thing that happens."Between the stimulus and response, there is a space, and in that space is your power and your freedom."
Why does this seem impossible to most people? Because we have been taught to believe wholeheartedly in things that simply are not true.
Literally while typing this post, I received and read an email from the beautiful blog "Mark and Angel Hack Life". In today's offering they described "Ten Lies You Were Tricked into Believing". These include; Happiness comes when you have everything you want. Life is supposed to be a certain way. You are supposed to be a certain way. Dreaming is a waste of time. I could chalk it up as a coincidence that this was what they had for me today, but it fits way to perfectly with my message. Thank you Marc and Angel and THANK YOU UNIVERSE.
So, back to the top ...
“If we are going to do anything significant with life, we sometimes have to move away from it- beyond the usual measurements. We must occasionally follow visions and dreams.”What is significant? WHAT YOU DECIDE IS SIGNIFICANT!! And, if it falls within the "usual measurements", well, then carry on. And if it does not (and I am guessing that, if you've read this far, this means you), or the path to get there is not obvious in the traditional channels, grab on to those dreams and visions, YOUR dreams and visions, stop believing the lies you've been told and START LIVING on YOUR terms.
Which is easy to do, once you embrace that you already have everything that you need. Soak in that realization. Be blissful. Then, and only then, anything becomes possible.