Stop, breathe, and be here with me in this post, friends.
Have a look at your life. For once, stop, breathe, and have a deep, honest look at your life. I know it is not an easy thing to do, looking deeply into your own life. Just trust me on this. Trust that by the end of this short post, you will have gotten something worth remembering.
And breathe. And focus.
Looking deeply, imagine that you and I are in a quiet room, face to face, with no distractions, no place to be, and I am listening completely and without judgement. And I am presenting a simple request: Tell me about your life in 60 seconds.
And you proceed into a verbal and vivid autobiography, starting around age 5, like Chunk being interrogated by the Fratellis in The Goonies.
And I interrupt you. You might be a little annoyed. I apologize and say no, friend. You’ll be lucky to reach puberty by the 55-second mark. No, tell me about your present life as you know it. Tell me what you think about your life. Tell me what life is like for you. A 60-second summary. Go.
No, really. If you need to pause right now to ponder in order that you might get beyond the two-word answer that you give most people on a daily basis, take your time. Never mind being straight with me. Be straight with yourself. And ponder how you would genuinely reply.
Dear friends, I pose these questions regularly to my fellow human beings, having become very interested in the lives of those around me. Hundreds of these personal conversations combined with the movies, the music and the popular culture of today have shown me that the vast majority of human beings only know how to respond to questions about life by describing their circumstances, which at worst are abhorrently miserable, and at best are mediocre to average.
Look around you. How many people do you know who effortlessly and authentically convince you that life is absolutely, cosmically, unquestionably as amazing as God intended it to be? Recall the various types of communication you encounter daily. Do you see hope? Do you see joy? Do you see wonder? I propose that if you do see these things, they are only fleeting glimpses, quickly replaced by the more permanent sense of worry, frustration or sadness.
Recently, Sheila, a friend and mentor, described to me the exhilaration of living like a two-year old (and my God, does this woman live). “Look at toddlers,” she said. “They are crazy! They are always running! They spill things, break things, discover things! And then they pass out and sleep like mummies! And then they wake up and do it all over again! They live every day to the absolute fullest, and they sleep without worry.”
When I’m asked about my life, I don’t usually give the same response twice. I like to say what comes to me in the moment. If I were asked today to describe it briefly, in this moment, my response would be as follows:
My life is great. I’m an emergency nurse. I have two amazing kids. We are an integral part of each others’ lives. I’m considering getting back into music as a career option. I write a regular blog entitled The Impossibility Movement. It’s about my reflections on how to impact people and change the world. I’m working through a breakup, and I’m creating that whatever the outcome, we will create mutual peace and something powerful, though we may not be able to envision it yet, and that’s OK. We also get along quite well with my ex-wife and her husband. My parents and sister are wonderful people, and I’m working on expanding my relationship with them. And I keep a life list on the side, which includes becoming a certified solo skydiver, getting a black belt, swimming with sharks, and doing medical missions. I love impacting people’s lives in a profound and lasting way.
Dear friends, allow me to freely share one of the most effective and lasting things I did to shift from a chronic loathing and questioning of life to a passionate love and adoration of it: I changed the way I spoke. “I’ll never be truly happy in life” was not merely a descriptive assessment based on past experience. It was a declaration of my future. Consider that in your routine communications with other people, you are not actually describing your life.
You are creating it.