“Maybe there’s something
you’re afraid to say,
or someone you’re afraid
to love, or somewhere
you’re afraid to go.
It’s gonna hurt. It’s gonna hurt
because it matters.”
~ John Green
Even though all storms eventually break, once in a while, there comes that one storm that seems to last forever. It’s exactly as the lyrics in that beautiful Lifehouse song… we end up living underneath the surface, focused on barely surviving with so many waves crashing above our heads, hoping that whoever’s looking will see us swimming and think nothing of it.
And it becomes a habit…this way of existing in the world instead of living, even though it is a betrayal of all that we believe in.
As much as I’d like to say we always have a choice, sometimes it doesn’t seem we do. When we break a leg, it hurts. There’s no choice about that. We can numb ourselves with medication, we can work on our perception of pain, but there is going to be pain, and it will take time for the leg to heal. Expecting to get up right after a terrible fall and run a marathon is ridiculous. And sometimes, positivity becomes the tyrant that wields the most beastly whip, leaving the deepest scars of guilt and shame: “why aren’t you running already?”
And yet, our perceptions are very powerful. It’s hard to measure how much less pain we might feel, or how much faster we might be able to get up and run if we thought we could. So then, maybe we do always have a choice? Maybe by living as if we were not handicapped by whatever real or imagined injuries and obstacles (or at least perceiving these handicaps as minimal), our lives would look and be very different? Maybe storms would end sooner or wouldn’t get so big in the first place? Maybe we would develop a habit of living on the surface instead of underneath it?
Once in a while I do an experiment for a few days, and challenge myself to focus on what matters to me…do what I would do if I didn’t start out with pre-conceived notions about what’s possible, sensible, and permitted…the shackles of that deception we call “a realistic outlook”. And I have to say, on these days, life is very very different.
On these days, there is no storm…only some clouds here and there. On these days, there is a sense of freedom and peace. I may not end up with spectacular accomplishments…but on these days, I know I was real and did important things. And even if all they represent are drops in a seemingly endless ocean, at least they are drops I have added, not taken away.
It’s a good way to live, and we should all make a habit of it. It’s scary and painful sometimes, but if you stop to think about it, the greatest risk we face is the guarantee that by “practicing our shots” for real, we stand to, at any moment, get what we want, need and what makes us happy in life.
Besides, the alternative is rather awful: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” (Wayne Gretzky)