When you find yourself feeling unmotivated, uninspired or blocked, re-frame your perspective and keep an eye out for signs you’re on the right track.
Messages, Omens, and Perspective*
By Elizabeth Cutright
© 2012 The Daily Creative Writer
A few blogs back, I talked about rebooting your life. Starting another cycle and trying to keep the faith when you find yourself circling the same issues all over again. As you might have guessed, that entry came from a place of frustration – after weeks and months of feeling like I was riding the crest of achievement, a triptych of mishaps had pushed me off course. Suddenly it was a struggle to make to the page, to finish my morning pages or contemplate an Artist’s Date. I wasn’t creating anything – no poems, no essays, nothing more than the minimal amount of words and paragraphs that keep me gainfully employed.
But I did what we all always end up doing. After a (relatively) short pity party, I sat up, dusted myself off, and willing stepped back into the fray. Because what’s the alternative? To sit and wallow on the sidelines? I may not know much, but I wholeheartedly believe in the applicability of Newton’s laws of physics to everyday life – bodies at rest will remain at rest while bodies in motion will continue on their way. If you want to make sure you never get what you want, never achieve a goal or see a dream come true, then by all means sit this one out.
Otherwise, you just have to tighten up those shoelaces, straighten that hat, check those buckles and jump back into the rush and flow and ebb of life.
Of course, I can say this now, safely on the other end of this latest firestorm. But I’ve also found myself encouraged and heartened by the synchronicity of the universe. Lately messages large and small have been shooting toward me through the void in numbers too hard to ignore. Little things, like Cinemax adding the film Xanadu to their weekend afternoon rotation right after I wrote about it in this blog. Or glancing through a friend’s Facebook feed and discovering The Art of Nonconformity just days after I asked my best friend, “shouldn’t there be another way to live besides the daily grind?” Or looking up from my journal and spotting a vintage poster of Paris just minutes after another friend texted me to ask if I was available for a winter trip to France.
I’ve always been a bit superstitious. I blame it on my small town, lapsed Catholic upbringing. So clearly I’m open to signs of every shape and size. But I like to toy with expectations as well: to me, a black cat is a lucky omen since my feline housemate is of the Moorish persuasion. And a bit of spilled salt – once more valuable than its weight in gold and now sitting comfortably on the shelf of every home – is just a sign that bounty and abundance are on the way. I knock on wood, and I avoid deliberately walking under ladders, but I tend to be of the good omen, lucky charm school of superstition.
Who needs harbingers anyway?
So when I opened up Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach today – after ignoring it for the better part of the month because of the aforementioned firestorm – the day’s entry felt like a splash of cold water on a feverish brow. In this unassuming, page and half, mid-September essay, Ban Breathnach gets to the heart of what I’ve been experiencing – the tendency for life to signal that you’re on the right track just as your faith starts to lag. As Ban Breathnach explains, once you’ve committed to living an authentic life, “the revelations come very quickly and from all quarters because you’re ready to start making connections.”
And what is the biggest revelation of all? That we’ve been living in a Mad Hatter’s universe where up is down, black is white, and everything tragic is actually joy unrecognized.
“One of the quantum leaps that comes about on the Simple Abundance dance path is the sudden awareness that you’ve spent your entire life going backward instead of forward,” writes Ban Breathnach.
With this realization comes the understanding that we’ve been looking at the negative impression of our ideal life for guidance, and that’s condemned us to a backward perspective.
“What’s white looks black. What’s black appears white. We’ve got the big picture, but it’s backward,” explains Ban Breathnach. “So we cry when we should be laughing, are envious when we should feel inspired, experience deprivation instead of abundance, do it the hard way instead of the easy way, pull back instead of reaching out. And worst of all, we close our hearts so we won’t get hurt when opening them is the only way we’ll ever know joy.”
I’ve talked about this before, the idea that when all else fails, you need to reframe the situation. In law school, we learned about changing the focus of our argument to better fit where the case was going instead of where we anticipated the evidence and testimony would lead. The lawyer that can’t adjust mid-route is destined to lose an argument that seems unbeatable. Think of Johnny Cochrane. You may not agree with the end result of his efforts, but you have to admit his case succeeded in large part because he was able to refocus the issue away from the guilt of his client to toward the perception that the LAPD was both unreliable and racist, and could not be trusted.
But let’s not end on that note. Instead, let’s think about all those journeys we’ve already experienced that have ended up so much differently than we anticipated. The party that turned out to be a blast when you thought it’d be a bore… the part time job that morphed into a full-time gig with a meaty paycheck …the unassuming classmate who turned into the love of your life…
Imagine looking through the lens of an old 35 mm camera that belongs to your nearsighted friend. At first glance, the landscape is fuzzy and unfocused. But a tweak here…a turn of the lens there…and suddenly the photo jumps out in clear, crisp focus. What a beautiful world – sitting there, just waiting for you to adjust your perspective and be open to possibility.
*This post was originally published on September 23, 2012.
All content is the sole Property of Elizabeth Cutright and The Daily Creative Writer, if you are reading this blog on another website, it has been reposted without the author’s permission and is in violation of the DMCA. © 2012 The Daily Creative Writer
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