The bad news is that our work is cut out for us. I don’t think you understand. Our. Work. Is. Cut out. For. Us. Here’s what that means: Our work is cut out for us. Let me explain. Miracles don’t diminish our work load. Give us a miracle, there is work to be done. After enlightenment, the laundry. And worse. Hit the big time and hit the ground running. There is no turning a corner in this world and not having to work a lick at anything any longer.
We have the happy fantasy that escape is possible. But keep discovering to our everlasting dismay, horror, disbelief, and depression that “when we climb over the fence, we are still in the world” (Charles Schultz).
We wake up in a life not of our dreams. We wake up in a nightmare. We cannot stand the facts that define us, limit us, suffocate us. We don’t want this life. We want another, better life, now. Not this spouse, these children, this house, this dog, this car, this lawn, this social circle, these prospects and this view. We have to get out. We have to do something. This cannot be how it is with us forever! We’ll join the circus if we have to. We want to see the world. We want to do something worthwhile. We want to be somebody. We want to be going somewhere.
It doesn’t occur to us that at that very moment, someone in some circus somewhere is waking up in a nightmare. We don’t think that at some point everybody wants to bail out of their lives into some other better life. Overwhelmed by “these facts,” we don’t consider “those facts,” namely that when we step off the bus we have to take up the work of being us in that context, in those circumstances, with other restrictions, and limitations, and obligations, and duties…
We pray for deliverance. We pray for a miracle. The people in circuses are praying for deliverance and miracles. The people in the big time are praying for deliverance and miracles. The people in the Canadian Rockies (believe it or not) are praying for deliverance and miracles.
Where are you going to go? Where are you going to go that you won’t wish were different, better, somewhere else? Here’s the bad news. The work is there ahead of you. You cannot get out of the work. You cannot avoid the work of being who you are within the context and circumstances of your life. It is hell at some point everywhere. At some point everywhere you wake up in a nightmare, and realize that you have to live on life’s terms, like it or not.
You don’t get to pick the cards. You don’t get to order up your options. You don’t get to select what you deal with in a day. “Blood clots! Who asked for BLOOD CLOTS?” You think it’s going to go one way, and it goes some other, less attractive, way instead. And so, you ask for deliverance. You ask for a miracle. And, maybe you work to arrange for one or the other, or both. And, “Poof!”, let’s say, you get what you wanted. Think your prayers are answered? “You run from a snake and a bear gets you,” says the Good Book. There you are.
This is the way deliverance works. We are delivered from “this” into “that.” Our work is cut out for us wherever we are. It is the work of adjusting ourselves to what has to be done within this context, within these circumstances, or, within that context and those circumstances. It is the work of coming to terms with life not on our terms. It is the work of accommodating ourselves to the turns our lives take, to the things that come our way, to the nightmare we wake up in no matter what dream world we said goodnight to when we went to sleep.
Here’s the deal: Live out of your heart, out of your genius, out of your gift, and let the outcome be the outcome. Be true to yourself, doing what you love, to the extent that is possible, within the context and circumstances of your life, sharing your genius and your gift, with compassion and justice for all, and let the outcome be the outcome. Once you start living with a particular outcome in mind, it’s over. You’re lost. You’re off track. You’re off the beam. You’re off center. You’re wandering without direction in a wilderness of obstacles, and obstructions, and frustrations, and disappointments, and compromises, and sell-outs, and the ending will not be as happy as you think it will be, no matter what outcome you manage to arrange.
It is not about the arrangement of outcomes. It is about serving your genius, your gift, with compassion and justice, regardless of the outcome, all your life long. When you start positioning yourself to achieve a particular outcome, you’ve gone over into arranging and maintaining what you think are the proper appearances and have abandoned integrity and essence.
Integrity is not profitable. Not profitable enough, anyway. You sacrifice essence to achieve ends that are not related to essence. The struggle is to be who you are—to be true to yourself—to serve your genius and your gift—within the context and circumstances of your life. The struggle is to “bloom where you are” (NOT “where you are planted”!), understanding that doesn’t mean you never leave a toxic, pathological situation for a better one (You certainly do!), but that blooming where you are is going to ask you to swim against the current, and do what is not fashionable, no matter how good your external circumstances are (and they should be the best you can arrange without sacrificing your integrity, your essence, your soul, your self).
Do you know when your integrity is at stake? Do you know when your essence is being threatened? What the compromises are that you cannot make? Where you draw the line? Do you have any idea of where the line lies? Education is useless that gives us information without connecting us with our essence. So what if we know all the answers, or questions, on Jeopardy, and do not know what is integral to that which is deepest, best, and truest about us?
What is our gift, our genius? What is our heart’s true love? What is the path with our name on it? What must we do, or die? What good is a graduate degree that doesn’t enable us to answer these questions? That doesn’t allow us to explore the nature of our essence, the character of our soul? That enables us to make a living but not to know what we are living for?