In my last post I urged you to live your grandeur. Sounds good, but I know—and you know— that is easier said than done. So I’d like to explore that topic more in this post.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover.
– Mark Twain
Couldn’t have said it better myself!
The trouble is, most of us hear sentiments like this, feel their truth, resolve to take action, and then go right back to doing what we’ve always done and being who we have always been.
We live in such small worlds.
There’s no need to. There’s a whole universe of possibility for each of us, but we choose to tread circles through the same familiar terrain until we’ve made ruts instead of, like Huck Finn, kicking the gate of the self open and lighting out for the territory.
I had a coaching call the other day with a gentlemen who faced just such a dilemma. He’s quite an accomplished professional. He’s smart, and even wise. He is self-aware and articulate. One hour into our conversation, after yet another bout of intellectualizing what was going on in his life, he broke down in tears. We were quiet for a few long minutes, and then I told him what he already knew. “That was the most real moment we have had in our conversation.” He agreed.
The gate to his heart had unexpectedly burst open. The voice of his soul was declaring that no, despite all his seemingly astute analysis, the structure of this incredible life he had constructed for himself was not built from the bricks of his true nature.
I don’t know what choices he ultimately will make. He just wanted to talk, and has not committed to further coaching. But my prayer is that he will acknowledge that his heart and soul were literally crying out to him. As I told him, “This is a seminal moment in your life. Don’t mistake it. Don’t miss it. Don’t dismiss it.” He let me talk for quite a while, offering some insight, and then he thanked me and ended the call a bit abruptly. I have no way of knowing if that haste was about his closing the gate on what those tears revealed or about his eagerness to listen deeply. One thing I do know—his choice about what do will make all the difference to the rest of his life.
We all have such at-the-edge-of-the-cliff moments. I know I have had plenty of them, and quite a few around Peru. I won’t go into them, except to say that one thing the Andean tradition has taught me is that “spirituality” both descends from the heavens and grows up from the dirt. We grow our Inka Seed using both sun and soil. It’s not that our heads are always wrong and our hearts are always right. It’s that we tend to listen—and live—too often in mono instead of stereo.
If there is one thing a paqo learns, it’s that there’s an overabundance of kawsay. We can take all we want. It’s troubling that most of us take so little of the life energy available to us.
There’s a story Juan told from one of his trips about kawsay. His group was ending an exhausting day at the Cave of the Moon. It’s a long hike down and a long hike back up. But the challenge was made worse because Juan had lost track of time and they had only one hour to get back to the bus. The hike up would take at least that long. One older woman in the group was especially worried. She didn’t think she could make it. Was she ever surprised when Juan told her she would be at the front of the line of hikers, setting the pace. She panicked further upon hearing that. Then Juan explained that she would have help. As she climbed she should pull kawsay up from the earth and into her poq’po. And everyone in the line behind her would be feeding kawsay to the person in front of them, all the way up the line to her. She would have a ton of kawsay helping her climb.
She took the lead, skeptical. But it worked. They made the climb with plenty of time to spare. Needless to say, the hike was a moment of truth for that woman. What she found inside of herself was beyond her expectations, and she found it with the help of the kawsay from the heavens above and from the dirt and stone beneath her feet. She also found the kawsay within herself and as a gift from the community.
The lesson, the inspiration, is that if we all drank freely from the kawsay pacha within, without, above and below, then exploring, dreaming, discovering, and living who we really are—as our grandest self—would be the norm, not the exception. When we feel the tears or fears—the eruption of our true self rising up from the shadow of the self—we would not ignore or dismiss that call, but catch the trade winds and set sail!