You know, it’s not like I haven’t before been down the road of Why not short pieces that are fun to write? I recently read over all of the 99 Problems pieces, and I really like them. Trying to say something valuable in 99 words or fewer was a fun challenge. #280Tuesday and #OneSentenceWednesday should offer similar opportunities.
That I never simply made a focused practice of solutions of exactly that nature suggests a mental/emotional block: that all else being equal, I’ve tended to choose struggle and anguish over joy and ease.
By meeting change, ever inevitable, from within consciousness, you can provide direction. This person in the future whom you wish to be: it is you, expanded. This is your goal. But remember: life happens in the present. This expanded, future you: that person would feel more open, more in flow, yes? Now ask: In what ways? How and where would it be different? Where would the openness be? Where is there tightness or constriction in your energy that is keeping you from being that person? Find it in your body. Now, in that place of constriction: begin to open.
In a sense, a goal invokes movement toward becoming someone in the future who is different (at least a little different) from the person you are right now. But this is no excuse to start living in the future. The future is the ultimate out there, never more than a dream. Really, there is only ever a present, constantly unfolding.
(Know this: whatever happens, you will be a different person in the future. Change is the only constant. But you can choose to meet that change consciously. Or not.)
I think maybe our goals shouldn’t exist out there. Our goals should be in here. I think maybe we should express our goals like this: “My goal is to be a person who hits his drives 210 yards and straight.” Now the goal stops being an object, something we wish to possess. Now the goal is inside us. Stated this way, the goal becomes synonymous with us. It becomes the subject.
By making the goal something we wish to be, we open ourselves up to the change necessary to bring that goal about.
It occurred to me over the weekend that perhaps we’re doing this whole goal-setting thing wrong. Generally we state our goals like this: My goal is to achieve x.
For example: “My goal is to hit my drives 210 yards and straight.”
Why might this be a problem? When we speak this way, the goal becomes an object, some shiny thing that exists out there. It’s just a thing we hope to obtain. We might as well be saying, “My goal is to have a Ferrari.”
How might I go about this differently? Is there a better way?
He spun the gears of his mind through all the possibilities he could think of. He was so tired that his thoughts dissolved in the distance like the solidity of the hill’s top into the haze of the air’s humidity.
Though the physical exertion had for the moment ceased, he found no rest in the thinking. A different kind of pushing.
He was so, so weary of so much pushing.
The sun shone brightly high above. He closed his eyes, breathed deep, felt the sun’s warmth on his skin.
He wished he could take pleasure in this moment.
As soon as he began to work the rock, he knew, he would curse that same sunshine, as the sweat began to pour down.
Nonetheless. He needed to get the work done. It was his task. Until he succeeded, he would not quit.
It was a beautiful day. The sun shone brightly high above, and he wished he could just sit and enjoy its warmth. If he could finally get the rock over the crest of the hill, his toils would be done and he could rest. He could bathe in the sun’s light.
He could hear children playing in the fields nearby. He envisioned watching them from the top of the hill after his work was done. I would take pleasure in that, he thought. A pale ache bloomed around his heart and he fought back tears.
He sat atop the rock that was his bane and considered. He could not remember ever being so exhausted. He could not remember much of anything, really, nothing but this rock and this hill and pushing that felt endless and the frustrating failure that beset him again and again just as success seemed imminent.
How might I go about this differently, he pondered.
“If you’re going to tell stories,” he said, “then tell stories. If you’re tired of the struggle, stop struggling. If you’re going to play, then play.
“When you’re out past the map’s edge, become the mapmaker.
“The impulse to heroism is inherent in all men1,” he said. “Here There Be Dragons? Ride them.”
1 A red numeral 1 appeared in the air beside his head as he said this. Down near his red canvas All Stars floated luminescent words: And women, too.