How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.
Happy New Year!
My holiday was refreshing, but it’s also nice to be back in my cozy blogging cockpit. My engines are revved up and I feel ready to fly into 2010.
So. We made it. Another year. Another decade. For me it’s a particularly interesting time.
Not just another year, but the beginning of my second year writing this blog. Not just another decade, but the beginning of my second decade in business as a counselor and coach.
I had no special plan when I started blogging a year ago. Looking back, I didn’t even expect many readers. At first I just put my head down and concentrated on the words, and after about nine months discovered I’d captured that elusive writing practice I’d been hunting for so long.
Right about then I decided to stretch my legs and venture out into the blogosphere. What a surprise that was! It just knocked my socks off to discover such heartfelt, funny, wise, beautiful, soulful, ardent, and wistful writings at every turn. Needless to say, it was a tremendous learning experience.
I guess I’ve always had this tendency to start things with a bit of knowledge and a vague road map.
Sometimes forging ahead. Other times falling flat on my face. But I’ve been lucky, because the path eventually leads to those who inspire me. And that’s certainly been the case with blogging.
It was a lot like that when I opened my doors to my first clients 10 years ago too. Of course, I knew a few things about human development, personal growth, self-identity, life transition, creativity, and counseling.
And even though I was pretty wet behind the ears, I was certain there was a movement simmering, a collective yearning for meaning ready to burst into a rocking and rolling boil at any moment.
In fact, early in the decade I wrote an article for the Sacramento Bee, after the dot-com bubble burst but before 9/11 hit. Here’s what I said about meaning back then:
Meaning is a word that makes everyone’s heart beat a little faster these days. Whatever else the 21st century may bring, so far it appears to be a time in which people are seeking more meaning. And in spite of challenging times, they seem more willing to follow their hearts to find a story that fits.
So the first part, I got that right. It played out in hundreds of conversations with clients about what they needed more of in their lives. And throughout the past 10 years, as these courageous souls sorted through their values to determine what truly mattered, one word came up again and again, more than any other:
M E A N I N G
Yes, the yearning was most decidedly there. It was alive, sitting across from me with a beating heart and a buttoned up roar.
But the second part, the part about being willing to follow the call of meaning and live its story? Well, that’s the part I needed to learn about. Because in those early days I naively supposed that if a person could identify it and name it, then the rest would be simple.
I thank my clients for setting me straight on that. For teaching me that we human beings are beautifully flawed. That life does not come together like the recipe for a favorite cookie. And that any time we embark on a serious transition, we’ll undoubtedly be greeted by some old friends:
Resistance. Fear. Doubt. Worry. Comparing. Shoulds. Societal and Cultural Expectations. And my new favorite, IF ONLY.
Lately I’ve been thinking that in spite of our yearning for meaning, we sometimes use IF ONLY to unconsciously defer it in our lives. I’ve even got a theory percolating about this: When we focus too much on the big vision meaning making (BVMM for short), we in turn bypass the small vision meaning making available to us right now (SVMM for short).
And since the BVMM takes more time and effort, we end up feeling baffled and confused, unable to get much traction in our lives. It goes something like this:
- If only I could do work I love (BVMM), then I would have energy to volunteer at the local food bank (SVMM)
- If only I had a life partner (BVMM), then I would be able to take weekend trips (SVMM)
- If only I had an organized life (BVMM), then I would be able to take my kids to the park (SVMM)
- If only I had a thriving relationship (BVMM), then I would feel motivated to start painting again (SVMM)
- If only I could lose weight (BVMM), then I would sign up for karate lessons (SVMM)
But again, I find inspiration here from my wise clients. Because over the years I’ve noticed that those who get good at lavishing time and attention on the small vision meaning making actually have far greater success birthing the big visions into the real world.
I’m not sure why. Maybe it minimizes the influence of those old friends I mentioned earlier. Very likely it increases optimism and a sense of possibility. And most certainly, it brings momentum and a feeling of life well lived.
Whatever the case, I am inspired to experiment with this new theory as I head into a second year of blogging. Although I’ve written at length about meaning making, now I want to actually do something with it.
Because as much as I care about meaning, I sometimes struggle to sustain it in my own life. And I know I’m not alone.
So starting next week, I’ll share a personal meaning making story with you every Monday.
Each week I’ll focus on a small activity, ritual, adventure, or experience that will enhance the meaning in my own life. And if you feel inspired to do the same, so much the better.
In fact, what if we could create a community of small vision meaning makers? Wouldn’t that be something?
What do you think?