It’s possible that I’ve had one million lives. I’ve had so many lives, I’ve forgotten half of them. They come back as they are needed: “yeah, I used to lift weights until I hurt my back.” or “I went to a tiny private Christian college for awhile” or maybe “I was a barista for about a week once.” Sometimes I have to consult friends to make sure I know what I’m talking about: “this happened, right?"
Maybe I don’t forget these things, but I certainly don’t remember them outright. Because I have started a new school program and am making a lot of introductions, I find myself saying new things each time. “Oh, remember,” my brain says, “you did this! This is applicable!” And then I say it out loud and wonder why I can’t remember it all the time.
My life has taken me on many different side trips. I have been lots places on the religious spectrum, the mental health spectrum, and the work spectrum. I thought I’d get a degree in English and ended up in HR. I wanted to move to California, ended up staying in Ohio. These variations may lead you to believe that I just can’t make decisions, but I really think that they were all leading me along to the experiences that I needed. Life does that.
For about a year or so, I have joked about going to acupuncture school. By “joked,” I really mean that I was feeling out others’ reactions. In my mind, I had already started creating the box: “Life looks like this now and it’s going to look like this for awhile. I’m going to be in this office and then another office and the next office until maybe I can retire? Oh, wait. Probably never able to retire…"
But that story isn’t real. (I obviously forgot about all those other stories that didn’t stick either.) Maybe that’s where life is in a moment (“here I am in this office”), but the rest of it? Story. So I stopped telling myself the story about not being able to handle acupuncture school or not being able to do x, y, or z and I decided to just do it. Why? Because you and I aren’t our job titles or any of our other titles either. We are something far bigger than any of that and we are capable of far more than we think.
Practice has helped me to start seeing past the personal and societal stories. It helps me to look for what’s actually real versus the games that we play. It helps me be open to the present and the possibility that lies in each moment. And there really are so many possibilities.
We live in a world that tells us what to do, who to be, who our friends can be, what our family should be, etc, etc. It takes away possibility and hands you a life fully scripted instead. So it’s probably time we all let what the world tells us to drop down a notch in our hearing and start listening to what’s really going on. Everything changes. So how can we possibly be the static characters that we pretend to be or that the world tells us we are?
If I believed the things I’d previously told myself about life, I would not have been following this path that seems to be the culmination of all the weird things that have happened. I would not be finding new ways to serve others, to try to live in a space of love as practice. Life had to take me to a lot of places to open me up and it’s still doing that.
Take a breath. Can you open up a little too? Take another one. Maybe in this moment... or this one... or this one...