Small Steps, Big Life.
Small Steps, Big Life.
One day, for reasons I did not then understand, everything began to clear. The grayness that had come to define my landscape was replaced by vibrant color. I heard birds singing again. Daybreak moved me to awe for the first time in recent memory. And for the first time in what seemed like years, I felt everything – deeply. This “waking up” came after a year of profound pain and struggle.
In a twelve month span my marriage disintegrated, I lost my job of 18 years, I divorced, sold my home, and my father died.
As I type this I am amazed still that I was able to function during that year of deep loss.
I didn’t realize I was asleep. After all, I had been walking around like everyone else I knew - going to work, negotiating an intimate relationship, making a life. In reality, the sleep came on slowly, like sitting in front of the television for too long. I went from totally paying attention to what was happening, participating in the story line of my life, to slowly nodding off. Somewhere along the way, without my noticing, the story line became blurry. I stopped paying full attention to the way the plot line was going. I became less the writer of my life story and more an actor playing a role in it. I had stopped taking ownership of the plot line, instead letting it unfold in front of me without interruption. Only it wasn’t really a moment. It was years.
Waking up is something we take for granted. We fall asleep in the evening or for a nap during the day with great confidence that we will - with the ring of the alarm or a lick on the face from the dog - wake up. Too often soul sleep is very, very different. One might suspect that my waking up came as a result of that difficult year, but I know now that my soul had been trying to wake me up as much as ten years earlier. I can recall moments during that time when I opened my eyes briefly, only to withdraw in fear and uncertainty. Back into my slumber I went, safe and certain. Time and again the curtain would be pulled back and what I saw was just too much, too risky, too hard, so I let myself be lulled back into my safe, complacent, unfulfilled life.
As a Coach I meet countless people who can relate to my story. Maybe you can too. You are certainly not alone. Perhaps this is just our natural response to the pressures of our lives. We settle, compromise, do the responsible thing. We put our dreams and courage to bed. We settle for mind numbing jobs – or worse yet, for soul sucking jobs - because they provide financial security. We put up with lifeless relationships because we have invested too much time to imagine anything different. We function day to day going through the motions, doing what is expected of us without really taking stock. Yet if we were to be honest, many of us would have admit that there have been moments during all that sleeping, when we were shaken from our sleep. If you are like me, the thing that startled you awake was simply too frightening to engage at the time so we went back to sleep, pretending that that lucid moment was just a dream and everything is exactly as it has to be. For me, this is how moments became years.
For me the journey to waking up has been tumultuous, amazing and abundant. It has not been easy. As a result of that journey I have come to believe that our lives are intended to be abundant. Of course we compromise for the sake of our relationships. Of course we have adult responsibilities. And our lives can, and in my opinion should, be fulfilling, rewarding and joyful. We can compromise with our significant loves without compromising ourselves. We can fulfill our adult responsibilities and work in jobs that give us meaning.
This is the story of everyone who has ever taken the risk to wake up.
Most of us don’t awaken all at once. We spend time in that in between place where we still can feel the sleep all over us while also feeling the tug of daylight and promise. And no matter how awake we become, we occasionally fall back into sleep so we can garner the courage and strength to open our eyes again to what is real and true. But once we have decided we want to wake up, that we are ready to see our lives as they are so we can begin to envision how they could be, everything begins to change. We wake up from years of deep sleep to see an entire new world of possibility - a world we could barely imagine before. We wake up to our Big Life.
Seeking a Big Life doesn’t necessarily change what we do in the world, rather it invites us to look more deeply at who we are in the world. If your soul feels sleepy, have courage. Over the next six weeks I will share with you my journey to waking up and a few of the small steps I took to open myself to this new, amazing, abundant life.