Being in love with not knowing

I read an article the other day in the Writer’s Chronicle magazine. It was an interview with American poet Camille Dungy. I have to admit, before reading the article, I had never heard of Camille. Now, I’m seeking out her work. And as I read her interview, I felt compelled to pull out my pen and underline some of her insights. They resonated with me in my reflections of my simple desires. Here’s is one in particular that stood out:

“Look, life is one long terror from the birth canal to the hospice house. In between there are a few moments where you think you know what you’re doing and you can rest. But, of course, you don’t and you can’t. I have chosen not to be afraid of writing into that terror.”

Okay, perhaps to look at life as one long terror might come across as frightening and depressing, but there is truth here. None of us really know where we’re heading. We’re all just doing our best, and at times the road can be pretty scary.

fork in the road

Embrace the possibility of not knowing which way to go next.

Of course there are times when we feel we have some clarity, and we get excited and start running down the path like excited little children, leaping and skipping freely along the way. Until suddenly we don’t anymore, and the path splits into five possible directions, and terror rears its ugly head again because the choices are overwhelming and we can’t see what lurks around the corner. Sometimes the path is dark and menacing, or foggy and murky. But that’s what life is. That’s the journey and it’s up to us to decide how we’ll walk our path – in terror of the unknowing allowing it to paralyze us to stay in one spot, or to become in love with it and embrace the unknowing for all of its possibility.

Recently, as you can tell from my last blog post, I’ve been choosing the former. I’ve been frozen on the path, having no idea which way to go next. But, after writing that post, I finally invited Ariadne back into the ring with me, and together we’ve pulled some good punches on Anders. He’s not looking so buff anymore 🙂

I have finally realized that having no idea which way to go next is actually a very beautiful and empowering thing. The beauty of reaching “no idea” – absolutely having no idea – means you are now open to any idea, and you therefore have to live in faith because there is no other choice. Faith is free. It frees us to be more than we thought possible and releases us from a need to know.

When I let Ariadne back in and embraced my not knowing, my world instantly opened up and we finally brought Anders to his knees. But man, did I resist it and I allowed myself to wallow in my terror of not knowing, begging for answers, frantically seeking for anyone/anything to show me a clear direction to take. But my path – everyone’s path – is ever evolving and sometimes you need to go through the “I have no idea” stage because the answer cannot yet be given. You have to just take one more step and then another one, letting go and trusting that that path will become clear again. All you have to do is keep moving forward.

So, my new simple desire is to have absolutely no idea, but to be committed to taking one more step, and with that, I can once again be free and open to new possibility and light.

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Be the lone nut!

One of my friends at work came by my lovely and oh-so-inspiring grey cubicle the other day, gratefully distracting me from hellish project management software updates that had been weighing me down for the 5 hours previous to her arrival. And she said, “Oh Andrea, I saw this awesome TED talk today and I thought of you right away! The guy’s name is Derek Silver or something, and he talks about starting a movement.”

Knowing that Karen gets the spazziness of my brain – she experiences it first hand on a regular basis – I trust her instinct that I’d like it. Just as we find the video and I start to play it, she says “you’re the nut!”

“What?”

“You’re the nut!” she repeats as she points to my screen at this shirtless, skinny dude who’s dancing unencumbered on some grassy hill with a bunch of people sitting around staring at him – some laughing awkwardly, some looking at him in disbelief trying not to make any eye contact with him, others not really paying attention. And clearly, he doesn’t give a shit what any of them are doing, thinking or saying. He’s in his own beautiful world, freely soaking up the sun, basking in the moment, letting his soul guide his body. (Not sure his soul is very coordinated though, based on the way he’s flailing his arms and body around, but whatever!)

As Karen and I are watching this dancing fool, Derek Sivers (not Silver) starts breaking down what’s happening in the video and showing how a movement begins, because it doesn’t take too long for a second guy to follow suit. The new guy is immediately embraced by the original guy – “as equals,” Sivers explains – and the two continue to flail freely, until eventually a couple more join in, followed by a few more – “the tipping point” – when suddenly it’s no longer strange to take part and everyone feels safe to add their own random rhythms…and the movement has begun.

“The lone nut gets all the credit <for the movement>,” Sivers says, “but it’s really the first follower who makes the movement happen. Without his courage to join in, there would be no movement.”

In just the three minutes and 10 seconds it took to watch the video, I’m totally lifted out of my project management hell and tuned in to life with new inspiration.

“The lone nut! I love it! Be the lone nut!” I say as I’m searching for a pen to write it down.

“That’s totally you. That’s totally how I see you!” Karen responds. She’s laughing at me now because I’m clearly so excited by the whole thing.

“You just gave me a new life mantra!” I say. She laughs some more, pleased she so effortlessly gave me such joy. And inside, I have to admit, I’m also feeling pretty pleased that she sees me as a lone nut because how fun is that?

Which leads me to think about how cool it would be if we all let our inner lone nut loose. Think about how amazing it would be if we could feel that free, unrestricted from fear of being judged; fear of being the odd one; fear of not fitting in. Think about the life energy we would exude; the ability we would have to truly live in the moment; how good we would be to each other as we embrace those around us as equals! Can you tell I’m pumped?

We so often hold back, trying not to stand out, and yet the ones we admire the most do the exact opposite. Why don’t we give ourselves the permission to let go? Because, like Marianne Williamson said, “it is our light, not our darkness that frightens us the most.”

So, my simple desire is to strive to be the lone nut, or continue to be the lone nut (since Karen thinks I already am one). Except I want to get rid of the ‘lone’ part. I don’t want to be a nut on my own. I want to be a nut with other nuts! And as I think about this more, this new simple desire is clearly driven by my original simple desire – my raison d’etre –  to be an instrument of light (see past blog post )…or actually, they are one in the same, just another way of saying it.

So, here’s my plea to the world – let your inner nuttiness and light out, and let’s “start a movement” together.  Who’s with me?