Change. It can hold promise and excitement. It can also incite anxiety and make for restless nights of tossing and turning.
For over a month my husband and I rode a self-inflicted roller coaster ride of his getting a new job that would require us to move to a new town. At first I was filled with only anxiety. I began to be plagued by irrational fears. Slowly I worked through those and grew more excited about such a change. A new town, a new house, a potential new job for me, though it looked promising that I could stay with my current employer who had other offices in that area too. A bit obsessively I began to scour the homes for sale on-line. We started to look around our current home with new eyes, the eyes of a seller. A desire for newness and something to push us our of our comfort zones grew more appealing. Then the unthinkable happened. The job fell through.
Deflation. Disappointment. Those were the things I at first felt. Talk about counting your chickens before they hatch. Yet, I also knew that it wasn't the end of my story. Life was going to carry right along. My desire for change and to take some action and to push myself out of my comfort zone wasn't reliant on my husband getting that job. There are still goals and dreams I carry in my heart and soul. There are things I wish to accomplish that rely only on my personal commitment and efforts. My biggest realization is that there were other things that needed my attention right now and I had been squandering my time with the what ifs. This isn't to discount the benefits of dreaming, but in this case I was too caught up in projecting too much on one possible outcome.
One of my favorite books is called The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have by Mark Nepo. I want to share one of the essays called String of Todays that takes on the topic of 'If not now, when?
Since surviving cancer, there is a burning bit of truth I live with every day. Sometimes it doesn't let me sleep, but most of the time, it brings me great joy. No one uttered this to me, and I didn't arrive at it or work at it. It just revealed itself, the way a broken bone makes us re-feel the immense pressure of air. And this bit of truth is, If not now, when?
It keeps coming dow to this: There is no tomorrow, only a string of todays. Still, like mos of us, I was somehow taught to dream forward, to fill the future with everything that matters: Someday I will be happy, When I am rich, I will be free. When I find the right person, then I will know love. I will be loving and happy and truthful and genuine then.
But almost dying seared the sense of future from me, and though I expect to live a very long time, though I make plans and look forward to the many things I plan, I have no choice but to dream now.
I start out, as I always have, pouring the best of me into an imagined time yet to be, but then I hear, If now now, when? and the best of me floods back to the only place it truly knows - Now.
This all helps me understand a story about Jesus very differently. I'm thinking of the young, rich merchant who approaches Jesus after his Sermon on the Mount. He admires Jesus so, it truly touched, and wants to join him. So he asks with great sincerity what he needs to do, what arrangements need to be made.
Jesus opens his arms and says, 'Come with me now, Drop everything and come.'
The young merchant stumbles and cites his many 'yes, buts': He can't leave his business so suddenly. He has to leave word. He'll need to gather fresh clothes. How much money should he bring?
With open arms, Jesus simply says one more time, 'Come with me now.'
How often do we all rehearse this moment, putting off love, truth, joy and even God, citing our many 'Yes, buts' to ourselves, when all we have to do - hard and simple as it is - is to drop everything and Come Now.
- Breathe slowly and meditate on something dear to you that you have been working toward. It might center on being happy, knowing love, finding a partner, or learning how to play music, or how to understand the truth of your experience more deeply.
- Breathe deeply and, for the moment, dream about it now; that is, eliminate the efforts to build it tomorrow.
- For the moment, imaging that whatever portion of this work you are to know or achieve or inhabit can only happen today.
- In hale deeply and take the energy of everything you've planned and put off back into your life today.
- Rather than feeling overwhelmed with all this, try to let this energy simply fill you as you move through your day.