"When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something's suffered damage and has a history, it becomes more beautiful." --Barbara Bloom
What's a seven-letter word for setting a goal, trying through thick and thin to make it happen and realizing you're just not going to make it?
F-a-i-l-u-r-e? That's what most people might call it. Heck, that's even what I've been calling it until recently. The dream I had invested my money, time, and heart into achieving is no closer today than it was eight years ago when I began. Failure.
But, here at the turning point...at the moment of acceptance, I do not see this as failure. This time, I see it as h-o-n-e-s-t-y.
Author Robert Holden, director of the Happiness Project, calls this single-minded focus upon the achievement of our goals "destination addiction." Those who can only see the end target, fail to appreciate the journey. To them, the journey is merely a means to an end. It's only the "end" that's valued.
Of course, anyone who has achieved a goal knows that the euphoria is short-lived. The moment the end is reached, a new goal takes its place and celebration fades in a mad rush toward the next end.
Eight years ago I began a new life; not fully formed in thought or reality. Like most, I was focused upon what I needed to DO in the world. I wanted to be of significant service to others. I wanted to free people of their fear shackles and provoke them into realizing how truly magnificent they really were. Sure, I also wanted to be well-known and respected for my own magnificence. My ego gets the better of me sometimes and I wanted to be the one on the top of the best seller list. I wanted to be the one Oprah called to be on her show. I wanted to be the one carting cash to the bank every day.
And none of that happened. For a long time I looked at this discrepancy as a puzzle to figure out. All I needed was the right combination of focus, opportunity, hard work, and luck and it would happen. I just needed to stick with it longer. Work harder. Network more. Market more. Be more visible. Get a mentor. Create more product.
Friends would scratch their heads and wonder in confounded voices why I hadn't been discovered. "It's just a matter of time, don't give up," they'd advise. And I'd hang on longer and buoy my lagging emotions back up and put on a happy face.
I had "destination addiction." In my mind, unless I made the dream happen, nothing else mattered. I'd lost myself to the target. All this... the stuff my days were made of... none of it mattered. It was just a means to an end. Until I realized that the end was just an end - one I had envisioned as my nirvana. One my ego had chosen as its proof that I was worthy. One that no one, but me, cared much about.
How many billions of people have been born, traveled through life and died? That's how many times we've tried to figure out why we're here. After eons of best efforts, the way seems no clearer. We still reinvent the wheel with every new-born's cry.
Here at the later stages of my life, I'm throwing out the rule book. It's not worked for me so far. It feels like I've been playing poker with a deck of tarot cards. It just doesn't work. Instead, I'm not going to try to control every last element. I'm not going to work myself into a stupor. I'm not going to become addicted to the destination.
This time I'll paying as much attention to the means as to the end. I'll be present and look at the value of this day, not just tomorrow. I'll honor my inner growth, not just an external accomplishment. I'm learning to pay attention, not control. If my self-chosen end isn't my God-chosen end, then so be it.
My life is here to be used to serve. The avenue through which that happens is almost inconsequential. If I pay attention, I'll be guided on this path to the fulfillment of my every hope. I'm learning, slowly, to listen with new ears and see with new eyes. Not to force, but to allow. Words I've heard, and even espoused, for a while... I'm finally learning the meaning of them. It's a new path for me and so far, I'm enjoying it.