A great lesson in life navigation from a friend following her heart
A friend recently confessed to me that lately she had been making some bad decisions. From my observation all I can see is that she has been following her dreams and some of those glimmers had turned out not to be as glossy as they had first appeared. She was disappointed and that’s to be expected but I didn’t feel it was any reason for her to change what she has been doing.
Her comment was good timing. It showed me that I had also been beating myself up about some of the decisions I’ve made over the last couple of years since I took a pretty big leap of faith and started following my heart.
Friends are great like that – they provide us with such clear mirrors about what is also going on in our inner world.
How often have I judged myself for the outcome of my decisions when in many cases I had no way of knowing how those decisions would pan out? Of course in hindsight I can see there may have been some red flags and indicators coming my way but hindsight is just that – something you learn after an experience plays out. I needed to forgive myself for all those decisions and realise that I was only experiencing making mistakes because I was trying new things that were unproven and unfamiliar in my life. I was taking a few risks.
What I’ve realised as I’ve forgiven myself for some of those bad decisions is that they really weren’t so bad after all. They were just choices that led to situations I didn’t like. Situations that were unpleasant and uncomfortable for me. But in experiencing those undesired things I discovered with more clarity what I do and don’t want from life and that is a pretty important thing to know about oneself.
Life is about exploring and taking risks and sometimes those risks give us what we want and sometimes they don’t.
Life is not a straightforward and predictable game. It comes at us unexpectedly sometimes, for good and for bad, and our job is simply to navigate from where we find ourselves. Often we are playing out old patterns but until we stumble right into the centre of those patterns we never know exactly what’s going on – and would we really want to? Isn’t it ok to experiment a little in our learning process as we stumble toward our dreams?
I’m reminded of the film Serendipity and the conversation John Cusack had with his best friend at the end of the movie when they didn’t know whether he was acting crazy following the breadcrumbs of clues to the woman he thought was his soul mate:
‘You’re like my oracle and shit, you know? You’re out there, man, and you’re making it happen…
You remember the philosopher Epictetus? You remember what he said? He said, “If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid.” That’s what you’ve done.’
This is what I want to say now to my friend, and to myself. The best people I know have made some bad decisions and ended up in places far from where they wanted to be – and have kept on going to discover the very things they were looking for. These are my role models because they didn’t let their mistakes define who they are or stop them from pursuing the things they desire and know are possible.
I love all the bad decisions I’ve made. Some of those bad decisions have led me to meet some amazing people and see some beautiful places in the world. So I might have gone somewhere or hung out with someone for reasons that weren’t so enlightened but so what? At least in following my heart I’m finding my way closer and closer to all the things I’ve ever dreamed were possible for me, and maybe even more than that.
I don’t mind if people occasionally view me as foolish in my endeavours.
Those that have the most fun in life are also willing to play the fool sometimes.
And on that note I hope you make the occasional bad decision – because it’s often a sign that we’re letting go of the old and comfortable and moving toward a life of even greater brilliance.