The phrase “You can achieve anything you want if you just want it badly enough” is a dangerous lie. Politicians and pop stars often love to recite sayings like this to the jazzed up, adoring throngs of people before them because it gives people a false sense of hope that life can be just the way they want it to be. According to some, if you work hard enough you can be president of the United States, earn millions of dollars, or at least have your album go platinum.
The truth is, we never know what’s just around the corner, or what twists and turns our life will take, and how our priorities might shift from one year to the next. And if we’re being too rigid and clinging to what we think we need in life, it’s like we’re trapped in a wooden barrel at the highest edge of a waterfall.
Our fixed ideas and narrow requirements for happiness keep us stuck.
It’s wonderful to have aspirations and to nurture them with consistency, focus, and hard work. But it’s very dangerous to think that we can control and manipulate life so that it can turn us into the precise version of ourselves that we think we ought to be, or offer us the very specific lifestyle we think we need to be happy. This kind of thinking keeps our attention constantly out there, like a horse chasing after the carrot dangling right in front of his head.
All of the wishing and creative visualizing in the world can’t ever guarantee us a specific outcome. Our condition is one of constant change. Things arise and fall away, and then other things pop up and then turn into something else. No form of mind mastery or magical thinking is going to reverse the very nature of things.
I’ve spent most of my life trying to force things to happen a certain way and I’m now just learning to appreciate the value of watching all of my plans fall apart before my eyes. I’m learning how to just settle into the space created by that sudden void instead of trying to fill it with something new and “better.”
What opens up when our plans fail is very potent and something we can really work with. Having exactly what we want all the time doesn’t offer us much room for growth at all.
What I’ve wanted throughout my life has changed and evolved many, many times. If I were the kind of person today that I dreamt of being ten years ago, I’d most likely be surrounded by people and circumstances that have nothing to do with where my heart is right now.
The more I think I know what’s going on, the more I eventually realize I have no idea what’s going on. That used to scare the bejeezus out of me, but now I just find it comforting.The only ground we can actually depend on in life is that there really is no ground at all.
And this is very, very good news.