“Wherever you are, there you are are.”
Ever heard that twist? I think the original saying is “Wherever you go, there you are.” The change is small – the word “are” instead of the word “go.” But the difference that one word makes is significant.
“Wherever you go, there you are” seems to be advising that you should be intentional in your choices. To take ownership and care in the steps you take because you will end up exactly where you choose to go. It can almost sound accusatory, like “Don’t you dare complain about where you are! You got here yourself!”
But “Wherever you are, there you are” seems to suggest you should accept where you end up. Even if its not where you meant to go.
Ugh. I used to despise the twist. I thought it was a total cop-out. Another quote with a clever twist presented as a philosophical wisdom when actually it is just an excuse. My eyes would roll and I’d be immediately skeptical of anyone who dared to utter the words.
The first time I heard it was from a consultant. And like most consultants, this one wasn’t exactly addressing a room of people who were thrilled to be getting advice from a consultant. We didn’t want to accept the scenario we were in. We wanted to point blame at those responsible for us being in it. (Not us, of course). And we wanted to find all the flaws in what they did so we could apply all of our (obvious) genius and fix it (because clearly we had the answers). We didn’t need some consultant telling us to embrace where we are.
And I definitely was not buying it.
Because, after all, I knew how the world worked. I knew what it took to be successful. I knew what it meant to be a quality worker – heck HUMAN – with “good” character. Those who want to be successful set high expectations of themselves and those around them. They get the best out of others by accepting nothing less than their best. They set goals. They make a clear plan to reach those goals. And they keep going until they reach them. And if they CARE enough, if they WANT it enough, they will get there. End of story.
Because that’s what life is all about right? Reaching goals. Success. Getting to the “place” you are trying to get to, wherever that might be. No matter what the cost. Because getting there is what its all about, right? So nothing short of that can be good enough.
In a field of work like mine, “success” also means effectively helping others. Which means that personal success and others success is meshed together. And the whole concept of success is tied up in morals and character. Sacrifice self for the good of others. Be a martyr. Success means saving lives. How dare someone give an “excuse” when so much is at stake.
Wherever you are, there you are? Bullshit. You better be going to the right place and you damn well better get there. And it better be in the “right” amount of time too. Did I mention that lives are at stake?
Except we were wrong. I was wrong. About the world. About people. About what is “right” and “good.” The way we were thinking about it was incomplete. Too simple. Naive.
Lives at stake or not, no one has a crystal ball. Even the best made plans made with the best of intentions fall apart. The only thing you can really count on is things not going as expected. Not going as PLANNED. Most of the learning (not to mention joy) happens along the journey anyway. But you have to be paying attention or you’ll miss it. It took me a long time to realize how much I was missing. But I learned.
You might not ever get to the place that you were going. You might get lost. Like really, really freaking lost. Then what?
Or maybe that place you were going, doesn’t end up to be the place that you thought it was. And maybe you don’t actually want to be there at all. Then what?
Or maybe it is. Maybe you get to the exact place you meant to get to and its everything you thought it would be. Good for you. But…..Then what?
Well, you certainly don’t have to listen to me. But for what it’s worth….
I suggest you simply embrace wherever you are as where you are. Reflect on your how you got here. What did you learn? What joy did you experience? What did you overcome? What was unexpected? Are there parts of it you would do again? Parts of it you’d rather not? Be Still. Notice how you feel physically, mentally and emotionally about where you are. Take responsibility for any mistakes. Forgive yourself for those same mistakes. And forgive everybody on your journey for not being perfect either. And then…..MOVE ON.
Because you can’t go back. And what good has dwelling on the past ever REALLY done for you? I know it hasn’t done much for me. Or the people I’ve worked with. It almost ALWAYS makes it worse and prevents progress. Prevents life from moving forward. Prevents finding the joy and meaning in the experience of life and the human condition with all of it’s beauty and mess.
And I don’t want to be prevented from that. Because that is what it is all about for me now. That is success to me.
You might be wondering what any of this has to do with #Beauty4Balance. Bare with me. I started #Beauty4Balance because I had been Trumped. And I needed a plan to get un-Trumped. So I made a plan. I challenged myself to look for beauty every single day. And I missed writing. So I challenged myself to WRITE about the beauty that I found.
And it worked. Right up until it didn’t.
At first I was going out of my way to seek beauty. I was Noticing beauty. Creating beauty. Capturing beauty in my pictures. Appreciating beauty. And I was having a ton of fun! It was truly wonderful and I was enjoying every single beautiful second of it.
But then I got really busy. Which was quickly followed with getting really frustrated because I wasn’t posting daily like I had planned. I tried to catch up but then the blog posts started to become more of a daily log of my life than a writing practice or intentional beauty seeking. On one hand, I thought it was exciting how easy it had become for me to find beauty to write about. That seemed like a good thing. But it also started to feel like I was showing off all the awesomeness in my life. Which I have lot of and I am so thankful for that (and not ashamed to flaunt it sometimes!)
But it wasn’t what I had wanted this blog – or this challenge- to be all about. The whole point is that I have a lot messy, not-so-beautiful shit in my life that makes seeking beauty so important.
It felt like I had been unbalanced, found balance, and then started losing it again in the opposite direction. I wasn’t sure how to get back on track so I just stopped.
I had planned on this challenge going at LEAST 30 days. Maybe more. I had NOT planned on ever having blog posts that captured multiple days in one post. And this is not the place I expected to be at right now. But…
“Wherever you are, there you are.” Well…. Here I Am. Now what?
I don’t think #Beauty4Balance is ever going to actually end. I may still pop one in here and there just for fun. And yep – 4balance.
But I AM pondering a new personal writing challenge. I have some ideas but I haven’t 100% landed yet. I would love any ideas you might have to feed my idea bucket! Otherwise…Stay Tuned! I’ll be starting a new challenge for this blog at some point this week 🙂
But as my last #Beauty4Balance note, I want to say this: I was contemplating this blog post tonight during my workout. I realized that this blog is for my mind and soul what exercise is for my body. It’s important. It keeps me healthy. It breathes life and strength back into me when it feels like its draining away. It helps me FEEL beautiful on the inside. And that is what balance is all about.
~Be Gentle. Be Beautiful. Embrace the Mess.