We were having one of those familiar chats that I crave with my husband, the person who probably knows me better than most. Out of whatever it was he was reading, he looked at me and explained how he saw me. I was sure he was wrong, but he wasn’t. He knew the story of my life and in a few sentences he blurted out that he thinks I left the “good life” because I was tired of pushing and being pushed. The image in front of me was the image of walking through Times Square right around 8 PM on a weekend, making it back home and instead of proclaiming victory in finding your way back home or making it in one piece, saying I’m done and I won’t be doing that again. He continued, “you just did too much, you tried too hard”. In some ways he is right. But if the push and pull made sense, if the “good life” made sense, I would still be doing it, regardless of how tired I was, or how hard it seemed to be.
Tama J. Kieves, Harvard educated lawyer turned author, speaker and career coach says it beautifully, “you can’t plan an inspired life”. She explains why she left the “good life”, “I left the good life for the only life. There is only one life and that’s the life in which we listen to our Spirit. Anything else is the blocking of life”.
The life that we strive to achieve is not achievable, because it is not a prize after winning a contest. It is not an endurance competition. We are so misguided about what life is, that we couldn’t possibly know how to live it. We have been so concerned about making it, having enough money, buying that dream house, paying for our children’s education, etc. that we have forgotten why we are alive. There are brief moments where we allow ourselves to truly enjoy life, maybe on that special vacation or meeting up with special friends. But then we look at that as just a break in the reality of life. We laugh at people who claim that life is not meant to be enjoyed all the time. You are supposed to work hard for a living. You are supposed to learn from your mistakes and make right where you have done wrong. There is this inherent system of reward and punishment built into our consciousness that drains all the joy out of living.
Going back to the conversation with my husband who preciously clings on to his “good life”, I agreed with his assessment. However, I added that I had to choose a life that made sense to me. It helps that I cannot lie and integrity and accountability are part of my genomic makeup. There comes a point in everyone’s life where you have to decide if you want to honor who you are, and embrace the values that you hold dear, or pretend that everything is ok and go about doing what you and everyone else you know is still doing. I chose to listen to me. And the funny thing is, I have never let myself down! And what’s even funnier is that we still doubt ourselves, we’d rather listen to the voices out there (the experts, our parents, our highly successful friends, the TV, etc.) than to the inner voice that has not failed us once. The challenge though, is to hear the voice. If we have spent our entire life, ignoring our inner voice, we can’t hear it anymore. It’s like the conversation of the loud people at the table next to you in a restaurant. If you are having a conversation of your own, you don’t hear their words. If you are alone or bored, you might listen to them and even if they are not too loud, you’ll hear what they are saying clearly. My wish for you is to really work on sharpening your ears so you can hear your own inner voice. It will take practice, because if you have spent a lot of time telling yourself to “shut up”, you won’t hear it because it has listened to you and has shut up. So, get really quiet and listen and you’ll know what to do if anything at all.