Jun 10 2009
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions – all life is an experiment.” That quote keeps coming to my mind lately as I am faced with changes in my life. I take a deep breath whenever I think of it: “All life is an experiment.” – “Therefore,” I tell myself, “relax, accept change, be willing to take risks and make mistakes for the sake of living your fullest life.”
When I was a young girl in grade school a teacher once wrote on my report card, “Janet will one day learn that it’s a waste of time to worry so much about making a mistake.” It was about the same time that I was taking sailing lessons at the Mystic seaport. The other kids would be sailing all around me on the Mystic River, tilting, capsizing, having great sailing adventures and playing with the wind, while I just sat there, stalled, afraid, playing it safe, unable and unwilling to catch the wind.
The winds of change have been huffing and puffing around me this past year; a ruptured appendix, cancer, and a wind-whipped voracious fire in our mountains have reminded me of the impermanence of this earth life. I feel my soul urging me to fully live my life while I am alive – to let go of the safety, security, and stagnancy of the known and to follow my dream and concentrate on writing. My mind says cynically, “Yeah, right, follow your dream to the poor house!” My mind is like an anchor, resisting the wind, trying to keep me moored in the familiar. But the winds of change are blowing my mind, rocking my boat, and exciting my soul, who is joyously singing “Anchors aweigh!”
Someone recently sent me the story of Phoebe Snetsinger, a 50-year-old woman who was diagnosed with cancer and given a year to live. She decided to forgo treatment and use some inheritance money that she’d received to travel around the world as a birder. She ended up living 18 more years (she died in a van accident) during which time she became legendary in the birder world for having seen and recorded more birds than anyone else in the world. She threw caution to the wind and followed her bliss and it led her to a rich, rewarding life.
Sometimes when our world is blown apart, we are freed from the safety and inertia of the familiar, and are challenged to make changes, take risks, and follow our hearts desire. However, we don’t need our world to be upended in order to do that. For the last two years my husband Tom has been committed to concentrating his time and resources on developing and marketing his ingenious right brain math system (he’s Mister Numbers on youtube with over 60,000 views). He’s excited and tail-wagging happy every day to be living his dream and making a difference in people’s lives. He inspires me to do the same, as does this excerpt from “The Invitation” by Oriah Mountain Dreamer:
It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living
I want to know what you ache for
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me how old you are
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool
for your dreams
for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon…
I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow
if you have been opened by life’s betrayals
or have become shriveled and closed
from fear of further pain.
I want to know if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your
fingers and toes
without cautioning us to
to remember the limitations of being human.
My soul is urging me to take a leap of faith – to open my heart like a parachute and jump into the unknown, trusting the direction the wind is blowing me. I know that many of you have taken great leaps of faith, risking it all for your aliveness. You have inspired me!
Maybe some of you are feeling the urge now to take a leap of faith and follow your heart’s desire? “Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions – All life is an experiment.” Have a wonderful adventure!