“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than the things that you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away form the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream, Discover.”
– H. Jackson Brown Jnr., P.S. I Love You
We have all seen or heard stories about people on their deathbeds, saying how the things that they most regretted in life are not the things that they did, but more, the things that they didn’t do.
I’m learning fast these days that the same thing affects us, long before a deathbed is anywhere in sight. Somewhere, in the back of our minds, these things are there. They call to us and when we ignore them or try to suppress them, they take their toll on our happiness, our moods and even on our health.
Let me share a few ideas that will help put things into clearer perspective:
We humans get very caught up in our material world and the world of our five senses. Many of us are strongly identified with our bodies and our physical existence. But the way I have come to understand it, our bodies are merely vessels that hold the consciousness that is our true Self. At the core of it all, we are spiritual beings – energy, intelligence and consciousness.
The physical world, with all its mesmerising distractions, is just a virtual-reality playground that we inhabit from time to time, in order to have the experiences that are the reason for our being.
In short, we don the ‘meat-suits’ and come here to play the virtual-reality game in order to experience; to learn; to evolve and to add to the expansion of All That Is (or the God-Mind or the Universe).
We are constantly summoning and receiving Life-Force and this Life-Force is supposed to flow freely through us. Passion, excitement, love and yearning are all symptoms of this life-giving energy wanting to flow through us. Our desires and longings summon this Force and we, in turn, are meant to flow it towards the realisation of these desires. And yes, by doing this, we are meant to have our wishes come true! When we realise one set of desires, these manifested desires serve as the platform for the birthing of new desires, which then, summon more Life-Force. So it is that creation, expansion and evolution happen through each and every one of us.
But what happens when we choose to resist this flow? We still have the desires, which summon Life-Force, but now we are not flowing it like we are meant to. This powerful current is flowing to us and through us, but we then block it from flowing any further. We short-circuit the process. We become ‘resistor’s and now, the same life-giving energy exacts a heavy toll on us. It harms us mentally, emotionally and physically (to the degree that we block it).
The best analogy I can offer right now comes from the world of bushcraft and survival. In this world, people sometimes use a combination of steel-wool and batteries to light fires. What makes this possible is the power that flows out from the battery and the resistance offered by the steel wool. Blocking the free-flow of electrons causes the steel-wool to heat up to the point that it combusts. Et voila, we have fire! Click here for a cool video demonstration.
In much the same way, when we feel an inner calling and we suppress or ignore it, we burn up from within. It eats away at us and we die a little more every day. Have you ever looked into the eyes of a child? – they burn brightly. Contrast this with the eyes of many adults. The spark is gone. All but extinguished, through a lifetime of denial and suppression. Sure, there may be the odd one or two, who still retain that ‘twinkle’, but for most, sadly, it is gone.
Why would we want to do this to ourselves? How could we let this happen?
We each have our own story, but at the root of it all, the answer is the same: we stopped heeding the call from within.
So how do you break this cycle and how do you turn it around?
First, you’ve got to figure out what is calling you. You can tell what it is by the way you feel. You will feel it viscerally. Whether it is the gut or the solar-plexus or any other place, you will feel it and you will know. And remember, it is a calling. This means it is not based on fear. It is based instead, on love and desire. You might recognise it in the form of passion, enthusiasm and excitement. If you have resisted if for long enough, it could even feel like a faint yearning. When you feel any of these things, then you will know what is calling you.
You then need to heed the call. For some, it can be easy and straightforward. But for some, it might not be that simple. How do you do what needs doing, when you have family obligations and a job and so on?
The way I see it, you can go about it in 2 different ways:
On the one hand, you can throw caution to the wind and simply jump right in, which is what I did when I felt called to give up my career in legal practice. I don’t particularly recommend this route. I bailed on my business partner and shocked both him and my wife by announcing that I was going to retire from practice like a bolt out of the blue. The triumphant euphoria of listening to my heart and being free from something I no longer enjoyed was soon replaced by a fear of uncertainty, which lasted for years. This is not mentioning the effect that my sudden decision would have had on the people affected by it (fortunately for me, my wife and former business-partner were both very generous and supportive and remain so to this day). Then there were the years of flailing about while trying to figure out what it was that I really wanted to do. And then, it was a case of actually getting down to doing it. So yeah, though I chose this path, it was a bit rough if I’m being honest. Thankfully, it worked out ok for me in the end (whew!).
The other way is to take it easy and to take it slow. You can talk to all the stake-holders (spouse, business-partners etc.) and you can make a plan. You can then execute the plan one step at a time. If it is a new business or a career, you can work around your current job and your family commitments. Sure, it might take a while longer, but you will still get there AND you will save yourself (and others) all the hassle and fear that you might otherwise have to endure. Also, you might not have as much free time or sleep, because you will effectively be leading 2 different lives concurrently, but in the long run, it will be worth it.
So there you have it. It’s up to you. You can do it either way and it will still work. So there is really no reason to not ‘go’ to what is calling you. And, as Nathan Whitley put it: “The Pain of regret is far worse than the pain of discipline.” – that is to say, the pain of doing what you have to do now is probably going to feel much better than the pain of regret that you might feel, if you didn’t.
Credit to Abraham and Hicks for helping me understand the central premise of this post – of summoning energy and flowing it towards the accomplishment of our goals and desires and what happens when we resist the flow.