In 2003, Nina and I were watching the Grammy Awards when John Mayer accepted the award for “Best Male Pop Vocal”. Clearly emotionally overwhelmed, he said “I always pride myself on being bigger than the moment – but in this moment, I’m a 16 year old kid, and this moment is kicking my ass.” (You can watch the clip here.)
Something about that description of the moment stuck with me, and since that time I’ve had my “ass kicked” by bills I wasn’t able to pay on time, clients I wasn’t able to help, and people who seemed so unreasonable in their demands that my logical brain screamed out in impotent protest.
Yet on the whole, I am grateful for these moments. They remind me of my mortality, and my humanness, and the fact that I’m truly not an exception to the rule – which takes the pressure off from trying to be exceptional.
Here’s how I’ve written about it in the past:
Life’s been kicking my ass a bit over the past few weeks. Nothing major and nothing irreversible, but some things I thought were done came undone and I suffered through a couple of days of self-pity before recognizing that I was a bit out of touch with reality.
You see, things have been going so well for so long that I’d forgotten how little control I actually have over the universe. Without even noticing, I had begun to accept good things happening as my birthright and to expect deferential treatment from a universe that may or may not even know I exist. I forgot that 99.9% of what happens is completely out of my control.
Without me, the sun comes up in the morning and the stars twinkle at night. Before I’ve even gotten out of bed in the morning, the earth has spun 1/3 of the way round its axis and six billion people have done the best they know to do to increase their happiness and mitigate their suffering.
And since I’m not in charge, I get to relax and enjoy the ride. Rather than cower in recognition of my own weakness and even helplessness in the face of forces far greater than my own, I am set free.
I wrote that before I began the Inside Out experiment, back when it still seemed my feelings could come from the world instead of from my thinking. And while I stand by the sentiment, I can now see that it wasn’t the moment that kicked John Mayer’s ass and it wasn’t the world kicking mine. It’s just my thinking – and the beautiful thing about that is that I know I can “wake up” from that thinking as surely as any dreamer can wake up from even the worst nightmare.
Yesterday, I got together for the first time in a few months with a friend who has been struggling to get some traction in his business. When last we spoke, he was convinced that he was “cursed” – that life was waving dollar bills on bits of string in front of him, pulling them away each time he grabbed for them. But yesterday, things looked different. Something had shifted in his thinking – the system had reset. And without understanding why, he woke up from his cursed nightmare and into a world of love for all mankind. He had a sense of peace about him, and with it a renewed sense of hope and possibility.
To quote John Mayer, in an outside in world, we need to “keep on waiting – waiting on the world to change”. But once we see that our experience of the world is being created from the inside out, we don’t need to wait so long. We’re never more than one thought away from a “system reset” of our own.
When I’m in the midst of getting my ass kicked by my own unrecognized thinking, that’s only a small comfort. But each time I look back beyond the curtain of my thinking towards its unknown source, I find myself reconnected to a larger whole. The movie’s not so scary when I’m looking towards the light of the projector. And it’s surprising how often I wake up from a dream that just moments before I would have sworn wasn’t a dream at all…
Please share your reflections in the comments section below – I look forward to hearing from you!
With all my love,