A few months back I added a writing exercise to my morning meditation routine. Beginning with the letter “A” and working my way through the entire alphabet, l list out a positive attribute for each letter – one that I already have or want to cultivate more of – and then I say thank you for it. Each day is different because the words I choose come from a quiet place appropriate to that moment. Yesterday I wrote down ambitious, brave hearted, capable, determined, elegant…while today I wrote assertive, beautiful, creative, dedicated (and on and on).
And there was one word stood out to me today. One that I needed to hear. Dedicated.
Yes! I AM dedicated, I thought. Yes, I am.
You see, I’ve always thought of myself as a jack of all trades. I’m a deeply curious person and love to try new things, and I often find change to be a breath of fresh air. You may or may not feel the same.
I’ve worked in politics, non-profit, chinese medicine, retail, natural food and now marketing. I’ve moved at least a dozen times in the past ten years (not always my choice) and traveled to 25 countries. I’ll go through different spurts with fitness and food, and I look to test new waters wherever I go. I guess you can say that I go where the wind takes me. Sometimes exhausting, sometimes a tremendous amount of fun.
On the other side of that coin is being the master of nothing. And this is where the self-criticism gets a hold of me. Lots and lots of self-criticism.
Why can’t you just stick it out like everyone else? What do you really have to show for all those years of moving around? How will you ever get ahead if you don’t settle down and choose one thing?
And on and on it goes sometimes. Can you relate?
While I no longer listen to it as closely as I used to, I still allow it to take hold at times because, truth be told, I’m not actually proud of my jack-of-all-trades way of life. I’m not proud of a career history that resembles the forest path of obscure road signs from Alice in Wonderland.
And yet it makes me happy. The adventure, the discovery, the unknown. It lights me up, and I cannot imagine my life without the variety and color that I’ve had.
That is why the word dedication stuck out this morning. And why it was so important to acknowledge my own dedication.
You see, asking a question like “why can’t I just stick it out?” was never the right questions to ask. As I’ve said before, trying to understand the “why” is often a dead end. The better question to ask is: where do I stick it out? where am I demonstrating lifelong commitment?”
And there are several places. I demonstrate dedication and have cultivated lifelong commitment in several key areas of my life. But those specifics are not what’s important. What’s important lies in the question itself.
By asking “where do I stick it out” versus “why,” I am reminding myself that there is more than one angle or lens through which to view one’s life.
Let me say that again. There is always another angle. And that is where our freedom lies.
It’s so easy to get stuck in one way of thinking about our lives. Whether positive or negative, thoughts that only move in one direction are breeding ground for conflict, stagnation and discontent.
If you are someone that strives to cultivate wholeness or a sense of inner balance, it will require that you challenge your thoughts. It will require that you have the courage and curiosity to look at your life (and others) through another lens. As they say, walk a mile in another person’s shoes.
I’m pretty sure this isn’t the first time you’ve heard this message so receive it as an important reminder. Making a practice of “life through another lens” is what allows us to see the fruit from our faults, make room for another person’s chaos and love them through it, and eventually find a way through every block.
There is always a way.