Singing? Playing? When did you stop expressing your wild and crazy ideas? When did you silence your song? Here is where you began to abandon your soul. We’ve all stopped short of claiming our full potential. Few of us were encouraged to live authentic lives. We were taught to conform, to play it safe, to color inside the lines, to keep our voices down. We wanted love and feared disapproval so we stifled our uniqueness and spontaneity, our boldness and, ultimately, our aliveness, in order to be acceptable and accepted.
My friend Leslie was a hospice volunteer. She tended to the needs of the dying. Tears in her eyes, she told me how often she encountered people who regretted that they didn’t follow their hearts enough in their lives. Many acknowledged that they were good parents, grandparents, or siblings, contributed to their families and communities and met their responsibilities as best they could. But all too often, these men and women said that they let their lives be consumed by practicalities. They put off their dreams or discounted the importance of their aspirations. Some were simply afraid to risk, afraid to appear foolhardy once they became ‘adults.’ Leslie was so affected by their end of life stories that she took a serious look at her own life to see where she was abandoning herself. She decided to quit her job and moved from California to New York to pursue her passion for acting.
We can’t all pick up and move to pursue our visions, but we can look honestly at our lives right now and ask the question that the poet, Mary Oliver, posed in her poem “The Summer Day.” “What do you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Your dream is alive and kicking, waiting for you to turn in its direction. It may be a whisper or, perhaps, a loud voice urging you to take your paints out of the closet, plan a river rafting trip or start writing the novel you’ve thought about for years. Now is the time to give an unequivocal YES! to your dream. Commitments are powerful; when you commit, you are fully aligning with your vision. Now is the time to take action. Even if you have only 15 minutes a day to devote to your dream, that is a start. Just take the first step. Your soul will jump for joy!
I leave you with the words of the psychiatrist and writer, Theodore I. Rubin, MD: “I must learn to love the fool in me – the one who feels too much, talks too much, takes too many chances, wins sometimes and loses often, lacks self-control, loves and hates, hurts and gets hurt, promises and breaks promises, laughs and cries. It alone protects me against that utterly self-controlled, masterful tyrant whom I also harbor and who would rob me of human aliveness, humility, and dignity but for my fool.”