Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
You are an infinite being with infinite possibilities.
Is life really full of infinite possibilities? I like to think so but doubt occupies a corner of my mind from time to time. After all, the demands of life can keep us preoccupied and centred on the here and now. Limitless possibilities are the dreams of the young and for those lucky few who seem to live charmed lives. It is so easy to be irritated by these people.
Getting irritated doesn’t get you anywhere so for the past while I have been working at a practice of believing in limitless possibilities- those moments, encounters or events that make life magical and wild and wonderful -and finding ways to make them happen. The steps are small and the speed of change can seem glacial, but the biggest hurdle is the belief (those nagging doubts) that such possibilities are not open to each of us, bound as we are by obligations of all kinds. Every once in a while, though, life sends me a reminder to shift my thinking in a different direction.
My most recent reminder was at a dinner (gastronomic feast) with a group of engaging, interesting women and the conversation turned to experiences of getting older. What struck me was that in spite of significant challenges some had experienced, the conversation never deteriorated into a litany of complaints about the trials and tribulations of life. We already know what we have to deal with including losses and frustration at what we can no longer do. There’s no need to crank out more bad news.
Instead what I heard in the conversation was a sense of optimism about the present– as well as the future. This stage in our lives can be associated with responsibilities and difficulties but there is also a feeling of freedom. The sense of obligation and pretense has fallen by the wayside. We are getting to know ourselves and we are surprised by joy.
I was entirely engaged by the conversation. At one point, one of the women shared something she was doing that was new territory for her and suddenly asked me: have you thought of doing this? I had not! But why not I thought? It occurred to me that I get too comfortable with the limitations of my own mind that operates on binary thinking when there are actually always choices available. A third way as I like to think of it.
We so easily get trapped by the notion that limitless possibilities mean living the life of Indiana Jones. If that is your thing and you have the resources, go for it. But Possibilities also include moving beyond that comfortable place we inhabit to embrace a different experience. It means living with a sense of wonder and curiosity.
Maybe we just never thought of ourselves as doing something other than what we usually do, or more to the point, what people in our social circle do. If we did, others would look at us askance. It might feel uncomfortable or intimidating. And yet when we do those things that ignite an “Oh Wow; Oh Dear!” response within us, the doing of it reveals more of who we are. Consider for example one of the following:
- Start a conversation with a stranger
- Take yourself out for lunch
- Read a different kind of book
- Eat new foods
- Explore neighbourhoods
- Listen to understand a different point of view
- Call someone you haven’t talked to in a while
- Take up painting, Indian cooking, and carpentry; find volunteer work, join a choir –anything!
Possibilities can present themselves at any time. For me it is my conversations with others, especially my women friends where the possibilities emerge and ideas find fertile ground to germinate. I am also guided by my Words of The Year (See Blog Post January 2017). For the past few years, I have selected a word of the year to be a guidepost for how I live my life that particular year. The last three years have been Fun, Adventure, and Mindfulness. Life has enough serious moments. Why not entertain possibilities that are fun and provide a sense of adventure? And in the meantime be mindful or pay attention to other possibilities.
Possibilities will vanish if we don’t act on them. We really have to grab them or they will head in the direction of the charmed crowd. And so… what are you going to do with your one wild and precious life? The dinner I had with that group of women really started me thinking. And so next month I plan to take a short vacation on my own to a place I have never been before. Why not?