In the late winter of 2002, after having dropped out of college for the second time, I embarked upon a reckless and ill-conceived journey concocted by a mainlining heroin addict/crackhead/con-man/hustler. Of course at the time, I referred to him simply as my roommate and best friend. I didn’t yet know, or more accurately, hadn’t permitted myself to see the glaring flaws in his character, despite the flashing lights and blaring warning sirens all about me. At the risk of stating the painfully obvious truth, I wasn’t the finest judge of character.
My delusional and manic journey to the fringes of reason was not an experience I would choose to repeat. And while I recognize now that there are far more effective and healthy ways to glean the same truths, ways that do not hurt loved ones and leave a trail of damage and chaos, it would be foolish to dismiss this significant period of my life as offering no valuable lessons.
One lesson, quite simply, was that I recognized what I was willing to sacrifice to make my dreams reality. Yet when I realized what was actually required, it was not nearly what I had believed. There was no necessity for dramatic abandonment of family and loved ones. There was no requirement that I make some theatrical departure from my life to live as some hermit, secluded from the modern world.
When I understood what achieving my dreams was not, I also realized what it was. As much as anything else, it was just work. Plenty of it. Hard at times. Not always fun or glamorous. Sometimes demanding of my time and energy at the temporary expense of other experiences or relationships. Still, I saw that work, especially when meaningful, is not so bad after all. In fact, it can be extremely rewarding, and usually is when genuinely motivated and embraced.
In seeing this truth, I became almost a passive witness of my surrender to the reality that there was work that needed to be done, and I was the one who needed to do it if I wanted to reap the rewards, whatever form they may assume. Quite surprisingly to me, I became a person devoted to doing “my work”. Suddenly work seemed so simple and pleasurable.
Previously I had believed that I could will events and circumstances into this reality. I was correct, but I was missing an essential element of the process. The part I was missing was the fundamental truth that all actions are by-products of will. My assumption had been that thought alone was enough to make dreams manifest in this reality.
Finally I realized that desire and thought are essential, and do in fact have a life of their own. But without action as the bridge across which my will ushered my internal motivations into physical reality, these internal drives, these visions and desires only ever would remain dreams. Unfulfilled, unfulfilling, fantasies, forever trapped in the formless realm as clouds of ether. High vibration energy fields desperately trying to access the physical world, seeking a willing vessel to birth them into this world of form.
When I dropped my resistance to the solitude of individual practice and study, when I faced my fear of failure despite genuine effort, when I embraced the discomfort of challenge, and when I acted from an authentic space where doing is its own reward, I began not only to accept the work, but to derive deep joy and fulfillment from it. At that point, progress became a by-product of the joyful act of engaging in fulfilling work.
For me, the specific medium in which I learned this essential lesson, was music. However, regardless of your field(s) of endeavor, the principles are the same. We all encounter obstacles. We need them. There is no growth without resistance. Accept it. Embrace it.
You may have fear or resistance to doing what you need to do in order to manifest some desirable outcome in your life. I know for myself, every time I have embraced the work and the lessons it promises, I have been rewarded with fulfillment beyond what I could imagine prior to rolling up my sleeves and immersing myself in the work. I don’t believe myself to be unique in this regard. In all likelihood, you have experienced this in one way or another already. I am merely here to remind you of what you already know.
Is it time for you to take on the next challenge in your life? Is there one that has been calling to you for some time now? What is it?
I encourage you to take the first step. Then the next one. And the next.
Forget the questions and doubts. Just do. Make adjustments when necessary, but try to keep moving. Gain momentum. If you lose it, regain it by returning to action.
Do so, and with patience, watch how your actions multiply the changes in your life over time.