As I sat down to write this guest blog post, the stranger sitting next to me said to his (I now know) daughter on speakerphone (imagine my annoyance until I couldn’t help but eavesdrop)...
"I find it interesting that everyone is on a journey to something and they don't know what they are looking for until they find it. ...But it's already in their DNA."
Those sentences. Divine gifts. That I could not have planned for.
Until that moment, per Charles Merritt’s request, I'd been sitting with what my version of goal-setting or resolution-making was. And I’d landed on the knowledge that, at this point in my life, my way of being is not in cycles or on timelines or even with concrete plans. And I was finding myself a bit concerned about how my bigger-picture faith in the idea that I don’t have to control my life -- and in fact, that it works out better when I don’t -- would be heard or appreciated by others.
And those words were exactly what I needed to hear.
They grounded me back in that moment. And in my every day, every moment intentions to be open to what shows up, to sit in the complexity of all of life’s experiences, and to walk forward into what feels right with an eye for what serves the greater good (vs my own selfish needs).
You see, I used to plan. I used to have plans. Built with my head and my logic. And with ideas of right and wrong that I now understand to have been driven by other people’s ideas of what a successful life was supposed to look like. Although at the time, I truly thought they were my own ideas.
I made vision boards. And I set goals for myself and for others. And I was an expert timeline builder, driven by years of forcing future goals into place in packaged goods manufacturing. I held everyone and everything to impossibly high standards.
And I used to get really frustrated when those plans (personal, professional, and for the businesses I ran) didn’t work out the way I dreamed they would. And also when they worked out the way I hoped they would and then were less than satisfying. Which was pretty much the way everything went.
And I would get scared to make big decisions. And question them even after I’d made them.
Nothing was ever enough. And I felt the weight of the world all of the time.
And it wasn’t until God -- or Universe or whatever you want to call some driving force that is bigger than I am -- so severely whacked all of the plans I had made for myself that I began to learn to allow things to unfold. And to be in each moment. And to question the assumptions that had always driven me to quick action. And to move only from places guided by what felt grounded and true. Through a broader set of filters and a desire to do right by a Universe that holds so much more than me.
And for a while, it was hard to know how to act within the construct of that greater landscape. To see myself as knowledgeable or my ideas or actions as worthy of note.
So I became a student of the things around me and got really present in my interactions with, well, everyone and everything. And without any grand plan, life kept unfolding. Full of beauty that I couldn’t have imagined or mapped out for myself.
And then an 80 year old friend of mine told me that a therapist advised that when she was in fear mode, she should imagine herself going back through her mother’s body. And then back through her mother’s mother’s body. And then back through her mother’s mother’s mother’s body… To the beginning of time.
And with that reference of an infinite timeline expanding behind me and before me, I immediately softened.
We are standing on the shoulders of those who’ve come before us. And those who come behind us will carry on when we are gone.
What we do matters. But how we do it might just matter more.
I am my best self when I am grounded and present. Facing the realities of each moment that I am in and acting only when my body knows the move to be “right”. Despite the fact that I can’t know what will come on the other side of those decisions.
And the fact of the matter is that I can’t know what realities I will face until each moment, with its specific set of circumstances and my ever-evolving knowledge base, is upon me.
And furthermore, I can’t turn to other people for answers or use their lives as guides or analogs. I can’t use past examples of how to thrive as drivers for my experiences. And nobody else’s take on my choices can be what grounds my actions...if I am going to actually feel good about them.
I won’t pretend to tell myself or you what this week or month or year is going to look like.
I will tell you that I am going to live in the magic of the unfolding. That I am going to see the gifts of every experience. And that I am going to walk my path with curiosity, and wonder, and patience, and humanity.
And that is enough.
Amy Brachman is a free spirit and a full life liver. She is a former corporate executive and then entrepreneur, founder of Superfun Yoga Pants who believes that eggs in many baskets keep life interesting and can create a financial net that gives people the ability to stay in their values. Whether by inviting strangers into her home and life as an Airbnb host and companion to elders through NaborForce, floating on the wind with a camper van as her anchor, climbing ladders and using saws learning to replace the roof of her shed, or grinning involuntarily on the top of a surfboard or ski mountain, her sense of adventure keeps her moving forward and her daily yoga, meditation, and other mindfulness practices keep her grounded and embodied.