“My life is falling apart. I don’t know what to do next. I feel like I’m making all the wrong decisions. I know I have to fix this, but I don’t know how. Tell me what to do.”
“Go clean your sock drawer.”
These are the frustrating yet life-saving answers I receive from the spiritual giants in my life. No matter what I bring to them, they always direct me to get out of my own way. Dan was the master at this. It was one of the things that drew me to him from the very beginning. So often the people around us take the lead in prescribing solutions for us without ever taking the time to do an intake or assessment. Dan never played that game. Instead, he constantly directed me to not focus on the situation in front of me and go clean up some other area of my life. Things come together when they fall apart. Dan never had to convince me of this because he lived it. When he began showing symptoms, he was told he had to wait for a doctor’s appointment. Instead of allowing anxiety to dominate his life he decided to go through his things and donate clothes to a nearby rehab center. When he was diagnosed with cancer, he asked me out to dinner and said he thought it was about time that I did some work in my life and could he help me do that? When he was in a hospital bed and attached to machines, he thought it was a good idea that we read books out loud and processed our perceptions of what we were reading. When he missed his girlfriend and daughter, he made an extra effort to show kindness and warmth to the nurses and doctors who were caring for him.
Worried about the guy you are dating? When was the last time you cleaned your car?
Terrified that you won’t find a job after sending out 20 resumes? Go through all of your clothes and donate anything you don’t need.
Not getting along with your family? Go about your day and smile at every single person who crosses your path.
The person you love doesn’t love you back? Send a text message to 5 people in your life whose love you never have to question. Nurture those relationships for a minute.
It feels frighteningly counterintuitive, but it works. If Dan could do that through cancer, then I can do it through a hectic Thursday. I am in the middle of a massive life change right now, and every cell in my body is raging at me to focus and figure it out, yet that has gotten me nowhere. The only movement and serenity that I have found are when I have stepped back and invested myself in the stream of life by getting out of my own way.
“Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.”