Why not follow the path that is beckoning you? Why not acknowledge that you are already on your way home? David Whyte Three Marriages: Re-imagining Work Self and Relationship
Today I found myself out on the ledge. Have you ever felt that rising tide of panic that starts somewhere way down deep inside you with the whisper “this will never work” and before long has you wondering where all your courage has gone? I had one of those moments at work today. It wasn’t beautiful.
I sat for some frozen moments, very still, and watched as my mind reeled out of control. One thought jumped to the next, and they all had failure written all over them. Before long old fears had surfaced, as if called to be witness to the prosecution. Oh yes, they knew of other times when things had gone badly.
I let the mind wander for a while and then decided it was time to reel it in. There was a conversation to be had; with myself. I settled back in my seat and the first thought that came to me was “arms wide open”. When we open our arms wide we can’t hold onto anything, our soft heart is exposed and our head held high. It’s an exultant position, a position more suited to the tightrope than a hiking trail. Nothing protected, ready for whatever happens next.
There is always a soft joy available to me in those moments. A completely vulnerable open moment of letting go and breathing. In this small moment I allowed myself to feel the fear and the vulnerability. This is not uncommon territory for anyone who chooses to do work that is radical. Being willing to work in a way that is open, that doesn’t hold on to ideas, that invites everyone to be part of the change we are creating is not an easy way to work. It is a dance with uncertainty. It requires us to be brave and tenacious while at the same time being humble and intuitive. It is a balancing act.
“A real work, like a real love, takes not only passion but a certain daily, obsessive, tenacious, illogical form of insanity to keep it alive.”
I’m often asked about resilience and the place it plays in my work. I think finding ourselves in the grip of a crisis of confidence and talking ourselves back from the brink is resilience. Not being at all sure of the path but taking the next step is resilience. Reaching out and letting others know that we feel uncertain is resilience.
I’m back on solid ground. I’ve decided to step back on the rope and keep those arms wide open.
*Thank you to my dear friend who got my phone message from the edge saying ‘can we talk for 10 minutes’ and called me back with a cheery voice that was ready to hear anything. I was reminded of Emily Dickinson ” I felt it shelter to speak with you”.