I’m going through one of the biggest changes in my life, and I’m kinda scared. I’m losing my home, my wife, my business partner, and the community I built around my beautiful household. I’m not afraid of what will happen next. I’m a little concerned about finding a decent place where my daughter and I can live. I’m not afraid of divorce or worried about money. Maybe I’ve been through enough. Those things don’t bother me.
What scares me is not knowing what’s going to happen with my ideals. I cling to them pretty hard, but I’m starting to feel like they aren’t serving me so well. I mean really, I’ve tried this crap a bunch of times, call it passion (air quotes), and something just ain’t workin’. It must be the model that’s wrong, right? My dreams must be out of whack, my expectations all farschmoozled.
Most of us have dealt with big changes like moving, breakups, graduations, career shifts, loss. I want to know what it’s like for you. What scares you about those changes, and what would help you get through it? We all want to come out the other side stronger, wiser, more balanced, and more passionate… don’t we?
What would that take?
Yay, I failed!
One of the first things I practice with students is the celebration of failure. I learned this from the fabulous improv performer and teacher Barbara Scott. Be proud of your mistakes. Raise your fists high over your head and cheer, “Yay, I failed! I feel stupid! I screwed up!” Really, what we are celebrating is that we tried something hard.
Well fuckin’ Yay!
Yay, I tried to build a community of loving families that shared a home, a garden, meals, tools, an investment, and a vision of cooperation, and I failed!
Yay, I tried intimate collaboration around a business that would change people’s lives and make a bunch of money, and I failed!
Yay, I tried to make another marriage work by listening hard, sharing deep, asking for the moon, and giving blood, and I failed!
Yay, I feel stupid!
Yay, I tried a bunch of hard things!
* I failed *
The Role of Idealism
Ideals are dangerous. Clinging to them is the stuff of wars and political brinkmanship. But idealists. Who would we be without them? There would be no bridges, transistors, or moon landings. No art. No Olympics. No pacifism, veganism, feminism. No 40-hour work week. There would be no optimism.
There would be no ladders.
“Lenny was never afraid to make big mistakes. He was never afraid to fall off the top rung of a ladder, and I learned by implication that the worst thing you could do was fall off a low rung. If you’re going to make a mistake, make a huge one.”
Those are Stephen Sondheim’s words about Leonard Bernstein. I’m taking solace in them because failing big is getting to be my thing.
Hello Lenny! I may chuck of couple of my ideals, but I’m keeping my idealism. There are a few more ladders I’m planning to climb before my time is up. See you on the way down!
Designing a Balanced Life
As the last millenium clocked out, along with the first half of my life, I started to invent what I now call Designing a Balanced Life. It works for me, and it’s starting to work for some other folks. All it means is that we have a system to help us respond to change. We’re doing okay.
Yes, I am afraid. The unknown future scares me sometimes. So while I stoke up the ol’ Pilot Fire I wonder, when facing a big change, what scares you? And what would you need to come through it wiser, stronger, more loving— to stay balanced?