My ego/monkey mind doesn’t want to write this. That’s actually not accurate. It doesn’t want to share this. Actually, that’s not accurate either. It doesn’t want face the criticism that could come from you reading this. Which sounds pretty good, but that’s not true either.
What I’m really scared of, deep down in that dark place that needs a really bright light to see into, is that you might show me that the beliefs I’ve built up might be wrong for me…and if I see that, I accept the duty of personal change. And I know from experience that that change is hard. I’ve worked hard to get to where I am, but I also know that I’m committed to whatever change best serves my heart and my deepest Self.
And that’s one part of what I’m most afraid of. I don’t write nearly as much as I think about things I feel like I should write. (Which I sometimes don’t do well with, as evidenced by that sentence.) If I write it down, you can see it. And if you can see it, it can be judged. And if it can be judged, I might also receive external validation that others don’t think of me the way that I think of myself.
And what could be worse than that: the possible lies we tell ourselves about who we are might get torn down by other people’s perceptions of us.
Even right there, unconsciously, I went from the first person to first person plural. No matter how much work I’ve done in the past few years, including on this specific pattern of language behavior (speaking as much as possible from the first person and owning my experience), my unconscious couldn’t fully own the idea. I had to make it about “us,” not “me.”
Let me rephrase: The stories I tell myself about who I am may not line up with what others think of me. Staying in my head, in my home and in my own little world with the things and people I know…is safe. Sharing my most intimate parts, my beliefs, puts it all out there into the potentially-dangerous world. And that potentially-dangerous world might, actually, sometimes, have beliefs that are currently different than my own, but that also serve my deepest heart and Self.
And that, I believe, is why starting is so hard.
we I will be tested. It means I will be judged. It means that as solid and clear as I believe my foundation is for my sense of self and my own beliefs, that they’re now out there to be challenged in ways that I have not yet imagined. It means I might have to do the difficult work of deep change.
My entire world, the fortress of my ego, the confines of my mind, and the pillars of my beliefs, they could all crumble into a dust finer than that on the Burning Man Playa after nine days of 40,000 people stomping on it 24 hours a day.
But I must begin, lest I dishonor my deepest self…which might be the only thing worse than having my world torn down by You.
It All Started…
In the spring of 2006, a woman that more deeply captured my heart than any woman I’d known to date (as much as it could have been at that time in my life) broke things off with me in a way that, at the time, I felt could have been done more considerately. We are now friends, but it took some time and work to take full responsibility for how everything played out.
At the same time, a company I had helped grow to 23 employees and ~$150,000/mo in revenues in nine months, was imploding as a result of hubris and delusion at the top. A year before, the same thing happened at a company that I had poured four years and my early twenties into growing an order of magnitude more successfully…only to meet the same end initiated by hubris and delusion at the top.
I looked around my life and did what any 100% rational and reasonable person in my situation would do: I got immensely angry for eight months and spent those first two months building a rock climbing wall in my garage. In North Carolina. In the middle of The South’s hot and humid summer.
It was the first time I really let myself feel anger in years. It had come up before, but when it had in the past, I always wanted to control it and felt guilt and shame alongside. Not this time. This time, I let it all out in the destruction of my garage and the creation of that climbing wall…taking unsafe risks building something of that magnitude completely alone and putting my body through sustained amounts of pain, all to reinforce on the outside the pain that I was feeling on the inside.
It was freeing. It was freeing to let myself feel whatever I wanted. It was freeing to create something I did not believe I could create. It was freeing to do it on my own. That if it didn’t work, it was my fault and not the fault of the weather, or a woman, or the leadership I was following.
The Seed of Realization
And in that whirlwind of anger and destruction, there was the seed of a thought that I continued to repress:
If I was going to learn from this, if I was going to be able to make my life into what I wanted it to be, I must take responsibility for absolutely everything in my life.
I didn’t know why I felt that or had that idea. But I did know that it was true for me at that time.
Two months later, by the time the climbing wall was done, that seed of realization had become my first practice. One that I stumbled through for the next several years, and still do, like a two year old on ice hockey skates for the first time.
A Blossoming of Truth
I like the idea of “blossoming.” As a plant blossoms, it’s taking light energy and turning it into physical matter. Just think about that for a second: by their very existence, plants transform energy into matter. That’s fucking crazy.
And that’s my model of the idea of blossoming, as feminine and dainty of a term as it may be: That I took in ideas and beliefs and experiences and, by the time I had processed them, they had completely shifted form from something previously unrecognizable.
I might be a pretty, delicate little flower and all that, but this process for me certainly didn’t take only a few weeks. In fact, it was eight months before my next realization, then two months after that for the next. It all then accelerated and backed off and laid fallow and accelerated and broke down and went through change after change after change. And it continues to do so.
I once heard the idea that repentance can only be known when you look back on your previous self and find that person unrecognizable. I’d add to that another level: That you look back on your previous self with compassion and find that person unrecognizable.
I now look back at my 2006 self, with compassion, and am curious about who that person once was. And I know that, 10 years from now, and 10 years after that, and again and again until I die, I may look back on my current self with a similarly-curious compassion.
Why I am Now Writing
I’ve started and stopped blogging at least a dozen times over the past few years. I started before because I felt obligated to write…as though, because I’m in the marketing industry and the owner of a marketing technology company, I should write. After all, the studies show that blogging leads to sales.
And I always stopped. I stopped because I was not ready. And I was not ready because my foundation was unclear and lacking in fortitude. After all, I believe(d), why put a weak structure under the stress of harsh criticism?
I see now, though, that it is not the strength of the structure that is important as much as its resilience and ability to quickly rebuild…with new material, if need be.
In this sense, only now do I feel ready.
But simply being ready is not the whole answer for me.
The other reason I have decided to start writing is because enough people whom I respect (you each know who you are), have supported the idea that I might have something useful to share with others. It got to the point that I, too, began believing it may be the case. I don’t believe that my thoughts and experiences are useful for everyone, but in the possibility that they are useful to even one person, I will be fulfilling a piece of what I have chosen as my purpose here in life.
Maybe you have something you’ve been putting off. Maybe there’s something you want to do, too, that puts it all on the line. Maybe you really want to do something, but are scared. Or maybe you don’t think you’re ready. And maybe you just need someone to tell you it’s ok before you get started.
I’m here to tell you: It’s ok. It’s ok to not feel ready. It’s ok that you’re scared. It’s ok to feel like you might want a little support.
I’m also here to tell you that whatever you truly need, it’s all right here, right now. It always has been and always will be. And it’s simply waiting for you to take the opportunity and blossom it from the depths and truths of your own heart into something new as your offering to the world.
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