“It does not serve to dwell on dreams, and forget to live."
I hear the words come out of my own mouth.
My mind is blown.
They’re not my words. They are the words of Albus Dumbledore.
And I am reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone to my 7-year old son.
“What, mom?” says Liam. “Why’d you stop?”
“It’s just…..he’s very wise,” I say.
All of us are SO used to planning.
We plot. We map. And we control the shit out of everything. Or at least….we think we do.
Which is exactly why this pandemic is taking a HARD toll on so many of us. It’s the level of uncertainty we are all dealing with. The unknown. The unanswered questions.
Nobody has been down this road before.
And it feels a bit like the blind leading the blind. In which case….can we please hire Stevie Wonder to do the job? He’s SO fucking cool.
(Wait a second….is Stevie Wonder still alive? Quick Google check. Yesssss. He is. My man!)
Everyone is anxious, because we don’t exactly know how this is all going to unfold. When it’s going to end. And whether or not we should drill a hole in our ceiling to mount that chin-up bar we ordered from Amazon.
Nobody can prepare for the future. And everyone is being forced to live one day at time.
Just the other day, my mom confessed to me that she likes to read the last page of a book before she gets to the end. She likes to know how it all turns out. And she wants to get a feel for where the whole thing is headed.
It is human nature to want to be able to predict things. We crave certainty.
But to what end? And does it actually serve us?
The dangers of future-tripping
We all do a little future-tripping every now and then. We imagine the future and we anticipate the outcome. And for the most part, we do it in one of two ways:
We worry. And we play out nightmarish scenes of our own lives, imagining the very worst.
Like chocolate, wine, and good porn…..these things are of benefit to us …..in moderation…..under the right circumstances.
Goal setting can be a glorious activity that provides much-needed focus, clarity, and motivation.
However, it also has the awful ability to distract us from enjoyment of the present moment. It spurs on the “I’ll be happy when” curse. And it can prevent us from experiencing and appreciating true joy, right here, right now.
Fear, too, has it’s plus side. Just a few weeks ago, I was leaving the club by myself at 1 am in downtown Winnipeg. I could literally SEE the headlines in the newspaper:
“WINNIPEG TREASURE” GONE TOO SOON, MURDERED IN DOWNTOWN WINNIPEG
Better idea? Pop into the Radisson and get the hotel security guard to walk me to my car.
The down side of fear? Well….THIS one is the kicker. Sleepless nights, shoulder knots, and a host of stress-related illnesses. Anxiety. Depression. And entire lifetimes devoid of joy, happiness and fulfillment. THIS, my friends, is where 90% of us reside on the regular.
Fear is a pandemic, in and of itself. And it is ruining lives.
And so, if we are to trust the guy with a beard that goes all the way to his belly-button (and let’s be honest….you’d be stupid not to), it’s proooooobably a good thing to start practicing “presence”…..rather than constantly distracting ourselves with “what if.” Especially when it comes to fear.
But how do you do that? How do we override fear?
It’s time to start taking risks
When learning a new skill, practice is key. And this, my friends, is no different.
It’s about unlearning our engrained mindset…..and filling that void with a fresh new way of thinking.
Instead of practicing fear, we practice it’s counter-part. It’s opposite.
I mean, think about it. What better way to stop fear from ruling our lives….than to deliberately invite it in, and show it who’s boss?
It’s like those crazy people who take cold showers every morning, just to practice “getting uncomfortable.” On purpose.
And for me? I like to practice taking risks in small ways…..playing Monopoly, and going hell-bent on scooping up aallllll the properties. Trying a new shade of lipstick. Taking a gamble on a new flavour of ice-cream.
But I also do it in big ways. Starting my own business. Ending my marriage.
I will never forget the experience of telling my parents I was getting a divorce. My dad, hearing me out, acknowledging my desire for freedom…..but at the same time, asking the question….. “but what if you leave, only to discover that it’s incredibly lonely?”
It was a valid question. And a fear that was definitely in the back of my mind.
But what was I to do? Listen to fear, for the rest of my life, while ignoring the deepest desires of my soul?
Think about the experience of riding a roller-coaster. The thrill of climbing that first hill. It’s a risk. But one that pays off in shrieks of happiness.
The more we practice risky business, the more we realize.....it's not so bad to "not know" what's gonna happen next.
It’s about embracing uncertainty.
And taking the wheel, when it comes to the “unknown.”
Don’t forget to live
OK. So practice taking risks.
Really? Is it that important?
Yes. It is.
And not to sound overly dramatic.....but.....our lives depend on it. Literally.
We are forgetting to live. Because we are afraid of what is around the corner.
And so, during these crazy, unpredictable times, I invite you to let go of your grip on "needing to know what's coming next." Needing to know the end of the story.
The quality of your life depends on your ability to get comfortable with uncertainty.
And what better way to challenge your fear of the unknown, than to bathe in it.
Now, who's got Stevie's number. I want to call him. And not just to say "I love you."