After the birth of my firstborn, I realized something. My waistline had expanded. A pretty “normal” weight gain given that I was experiencing a load of stress from my new life as a parent along with job stress and working on a Masters degree part time. Overeating gave me an emotional way to decompress, to release the tension I was experiencing. It was weird, but I realized that as my stomach was swelling, my world was shrinking. If life were like Alice in Wonderland, my legs, hands and head would be shrinking smaller and smaller as my belly balooned. I can imagine being unable to move, with tiny little person hands and feet, trying to get my giant balloon-body moving.
Have you ever noticed your world shrinking? Trust me, it is not a fun experience. Being a new parent was life-changing… No. It was more than that, because life changing sounds like a Hallmark moment or an Oprah TV special. I felt that my life had ended.
Not that I did not love my children, or my family. What I sensed was that everything was being drained away, like I had been thrown into life’s utility sink and washed clean from everything I knew. All of my old thinking, my routines, my spending habits, my (lack of) communication style and my expectation were washed-the-hell-away. This was real and I was going down the drain fast.
Today, I have the beneficial-curse of experience. I know that my thinking needed to change if I was going to make it in my new world as a parent, a father, and a man responsible for things at work. Experience is also a curse, because we start to expect that life will be like it has always has been. This sucks. I don’t want to go down that drain again!
At the time, I experienced it all as upheaval. Total-life-upheaval. If this happened to me today, we would call it a “Life Transformation,” I would hire a coach, have a Latte and get some yoga pants. That is just wrong, folks. What the hell has happened to our world?
My world had to shrink because my world view could not handle all of the amazing things I was in for. The ironic thing is that I only held on because that was what I knew. Truth is, I did not really like who I was. The change came at me hard: new life-long relationships, commitments, responsibilities and unknown expectations all threatening to change everything about me. I was not ready for it, I needed to say goodbye to my balloon-bellied-tiny-handed-self. Actually, I needed to kick him off of the cliff. One thing I learned through all of this is that change has to be let in and only you can do that.
“Something in your eyes took a thousand years to get here” U2 – Iris
Who you are today is more than just the sum of your own experience. Let me say that again, “Who you are today is more than just the sum of your own experience.”
Sit with that. Who you are today is WAY more than the experiences you have had in the past. You are more than your experience, you are bigger than any stress you are facing and you have more within you that is still-to-be-expressed. Right now, you are literally experiencing a little bit of history and a bit of the future at the same time. Woa. Deep stuff.
Scientists describe how Nature has downloaded a DNA-Operating System into each of us . This DNA is the compressed life-experience from generations and generations of your ancestors. Their living, thinking, and doing has been uploaded into who you are. Who you are is their gift to you. Who you become, well that is a gift that you give to yourself and to the rest of us. Literally, you have a thousand years in your eyes. In the Old Testament, Solomon the Wise reflected how “He (God) has planted eternity in the human heart…” (Eccl 3:11).
There is something in you and I that cannot wait to be unleashed. But you are the only one who can unleash what is inside. And it is unpredictable. Life can be a little wild.
I have been skeptical of motivational speakers who say “There is only one you. You have a fantastic purpose that only you can fulfill. The world needs you.” Probably I am skeptical because I did not take this seriously enough. If you really think about it, it’s scary. The world needs you to grow up and to stand up. Shit, that is serious. The world (AKA: my family, my friends, my coworkers and all of my responsibilities at work, my art, my community, and you get the picture…) depend on me to stand up and be ME. Only you, and only I can unleash that. Part of me loves that, and part of me wants to just watch TV and eat some chips.
But the world knocks. As a young father when I felt my world draining away, I had a hunger. I knew there was more. What about you? Are circumstances are being thrown at you that make you feel like your world may be under assault? Rather than feeling this is a threat to your world, think of it as your eternity reaching out to you. It is too much to live all at once, but your eternity is right there, just waiting for you to grab hold.
By the way, the more you open up to life, the less you will need the chips (or the cigarettes, the beer, or whatever else you may use to decompress). But it is scary, I know. Take the leap, kick the tiny-handed-balloon-self off of the cliff. You have eternity in your eyes and I cannot wait to see how it will go down.
Keep it real