I’m one of those people who have tended to doubt themselves, particularly when it comes to making decisions. Give me a test where I have to memorize things, and I’m your girl. I’m a poster child for the American education system. I learned how not to think for myself, so that I could score higher, win ribbons, and do the things I really didn’t want to do. Then when I walked out of a legal career to reinvent my life based on listening to my desires and instincts, I realized I had no idea how to go beyond someone else’s rules and find my own code. And this is what creating an inspired life is all about. It’s about being true to yourself, the self you are in this minute, not the self you think you should be, and not what other people–or even you–would usually do.
Shakespeare, the dude, wrote, “To thine own self be true,” and I think he would have made a fine career coach or guru. Real success comes from astonishing independence, being present to your immediate truth rather than to external or internal expectations. Inspiration doesn’t always arrive dressed in linen and smelling like lavender. Sometimes, it comes through raw insistence of what you do not want to hear. Listening is the price of flourishing.
I’ll give you an example.
Years ago, I was working with a complicated woman–I’ll call her Laura–in another part of the United States. At the end of a day in which I’d listened to every disagreeable opinion Laura could possibly ever have, Laura suggested we walk this Labyrinth in a church downtown. When I say suggested, I mean we were already driving there. Laura explained the Labyrinth dynamic to me. “The Labyrinth is a walking meditation. Just follow the paths to the center and back out again. Go your own way and be with the experience,” she said, sounding all Zen, when, really, we both knew she’d be much better suited as den mother for a pack of Nazis.
At the time, I just wanted to go back to my hotel room and cry. Maybe catch an episode of Law and Order, the kind of show that is always playing on TV in absolutely any hotel room. When we arrived, the event was larger than I’d imagined and crowded. I dutifully stepped in line with the herd of seekers to follow into the mystical maze. Once walking, I found myself wanting to jam into a fast lane. But it didn’t feel right to pass people who were being really contemplative. Maybe they weren’t just slow cows. Maybe they were listening to angels. Hell, I’d walk slowly if I were listening to angels. But I was in a hurry. I wanted to do this spiritual thing, get it done, get my answer, and get out of there.
Read Tama’s solution to finding her way out of the maze, (and the revelations she discovered) in the latest edition of Our USA, on newsstands now.