Archive for July, 2012
July 24th, 2012
p style=”text-align: justify;”>Once there was an elderly carpenter who was preparing to retire. He had been in the industry for many years, and while he was once quite talented and passionate about is work, he no longer felt fulfilled by his career and knew that it was time to make a change. So, he went to work one day and told his employer of his plans to leave the business in pursuit of a more leisurely life.
Of course, the employer was sorry to see this accomplished worker go, but he understood the change he sought and he wished him well on this new chapter of his life. Before bidding him his final farewell, however, the employer asked the old builder that he build one more home as a personal favor home to him. The carpenter agreed to grant him this request and slowly began working on his last project. Over time, though, it became apparent that his heart was not in his work: he dreaded coming to work each morning, he often left early, and he resorted to shoddy workmanship. Even the employer was saddened to watch him work, as it was a very unfortunate way to end a dedicated career.
When the carpenter had finally finished his work, he called his employer to inspect the house. After thoroughly reviewing the home, the employer handed the key to the front door to the carpenter and said, “My friend, you are a fine builder and a prize employee. This home is yours. It is my gift to you!”
The carpenter was shocked. “What a shame!” he thought. Had he only known that he was building his own retirement home, he would have done it all so differently. He would have cared more about the outcome.
And so it is in real life, is it not? We are the carpenters, and each day we build our lives, one day at a time, often putting less than our best effort into our work. And then, with great shock and regret, we realize that we must live in the house that we have built for ourselves. We look back at our work and wish that we would have been more diligent. We think to ourselves, “If only I had known, I would have done it so differently.”
But, of course, we cannot go back. Instead, we must live in the homes that we have built for ourselves. We must carry on and learn to appreciate and find beauty in even our shabbiest work, and perfect our skill with each project. This thing called life is a do-it-yourself project, and the choices we make today is what lays the foundation and builds upon our homes of tomorrow.
Ellie Otteson, MA
New London, MN
July 11th, 2012
Fun fact: I almost never remember my dreams. However, when I do, I am usually in flight. Ever since I was quite young, in fact, my preferred mode of transportation while dreaming has been flying. I had not thought much about this dream-theme of mine until I studied dream analysis in college and learned that dream flying is considered the perfect metaphor for living the soul’s longing, or life purpose. Upon learning that, I did a forehead slap and thought to myself, “Duh!” The symbolism is unmistakable: For many, flight is associated with freedom, ascension, exhilaration, and peace. Yet, not ironically, many of us have a fear of flying. The idea of free-falling, losing control, letting go, and most obviously, the hard landing is incredibly frightening. The metaphor still holds true, does it not?
And so it is with fulfilling our life purpose, for doing so involves navigating obstacles, conquering incredible feats, and then making a conscious choice to evolve and grow. Living out our soul’s longing means choosing the challenge of change over the difficulty of remaining the same while conquering fear and overcoming resistance every step of the way.
If you have ever set out to accomplish something meaningful, you will know that resistance is an inescapable part of the journey. And if you are anything like the rest of us, you have likely experienced resistance as an adversary. And this was likely so because you did not understand your resistance well enough to make it your ally. You tried to avoid, persist, and resist, rather than carry on with intention, commitment, surrender, and trust. Because resistance really is nothing but a form of fear and insecurity, we are much better off examining it with self-awareness and honesty, getting to know it, and thus better understanding ourselves. For the sooner we are able to do that, the sooner we are able to live out our higher aspirations.
So in practice, what can we do about the resistance we experience? We can start by being mindful of all the big and little things that distract us and slow us down as we set out to do the things that our hearts are telling us to do. Notice when you procrastinate, when you make excuses, when you are highly defended, and take note of the things that you worry about. Likewise, acknowledge any patterns that you discover, the limitations you perceive, and the strength of your resistance, and remember that most often, the greater the resistance surrounding a particular longing, the more important it likely is.
As you make a habit of examining your resistance and get comfortable with it, you will become increasingly aware and empowered to move beyond these distractions and forge ahead into the creative and authentic territory of your soul. With more and more ease, you will bring your mind, body, and spirit into alignment and make decisions during each and every moment that support your higher purpose. And ultimately, you will feel at home with yourself as you fly, and live a life of conviction, intention, and peace.
Ellie Otteson, MA
New London, MN