I spent the first 26 years of my career thinking I had to be more, do more, have more, add in more, care more, act more, fire myself up more.
What I’m seeing now is that the secret to living the fullest, most magnificent life is in these two surprising contradictions. Let’s take the first one:
Indifference means a lack of concern, a not caring either way. That’s got to be a terrible thing, right? If we don’t care then we won’t do anything. How can that lead us towards a great life?
Well, when we realise that 100% of our experience of life is from thought in the moment then we stop trying to manipulate the future, our friends and family, our careers, our finances, our homes to give us a sense of security and well-being. We inevitably become indifferent to the questions that no longer make sense. What do they think of me? How can I secure my future? How can I be a better person? There is no answer that will not change from moment to moment.
I have most clearly seen the power of this indifference with my children. For most of their lives, my ‘care’ was just a synonym for my concern or worry about them and me. Were they OK? Was I a good Mum? What would their future hold? Was I doing this right? What were other people thinking of me?
I see now that all of these questions pointed me in the direction of a made up world and that all this ‘caring’ did was distract me from the simple reality of these miracles being here in front of me: the tone of their voices, the colour of their eyes, the movement of their fingers… And the more real I am and the less I ‘care’, the more I know what to do and the more head over heels in love with them I am.
In the moment, we can be quiet, aware and as close to the truth as we will get in our lifetime. To the rest of it, to the illusions, we can be gloriously, easily indifferent.
So if nothing outside us has the power to change how I feel, why would I do anything at all? Wouldn’t I just sit around all day and watch TV?
As we come into the simple truth of who we are, we realise with absolute clarity that there is nothing we need to do to feel better about ourself. In fact, we even realise the illusory nature of the self. There is nothing for us to do. Nothing for us to prove. Nothing to change. Life is simply a gift. Laid out for us to experience. A multi-dimensional, full colour, all singing, all dancing gift.
On a call recently, George Pransky said of Michael Neill: “He throws himself into everything as though his life depends on it, knowing all the time that nothing depends on it.”
When we have nothing to fear and nothing to prove, then we can go all out hell for leather right into the centre of the whole mind-blowing thing. We can be the man in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood.
The more indifferent we are to the illusion, the more we live in absolute freedom to participate, in love with the whole show. Laughing, crying, fearless, terrified, angry, happy… this is our life. We are fully, whole body, mind, soul and spirit, engaged.
There was a stage in my life (the last 40 or so years) when I believed that it was all on my shoulders to achieve and to do stuff and to control outcomes and to make things happen. The buck stopped with me and if I stopped then it was all over.
Then I did stop and got a bit quieter and saw that actually there is something beyond me that keeps sending the bucks my way.
Let’s take this blog for example. I don’t know where the idea to write it came from, or where each word comes from, or how I know that one word fits and another doesn’t. It just comes and the more I settle down into the writing, the more easily the ideas come.
When I believe I have to anticipate and try and control, my head is full of “what will they think of this one will it get any likes on Facebook how awful if it doesn’t will I just be embarrassing myself what if all this is wrong and Garret Kramer who I admire with all my heart calls me out on it do I just sound really stupid what if my mum reads it and thinks I have lost the plot…” then it all takes longer and is rather tiring.
At a workshop recently I asked the two renowned speakers how they defined being productive. Michael Neill said, “Doing what I know to do.” And George Pransky said, “Acting on my wisdom.”
These ideas, this wisdom and this knowing do not come from striving, analysing or force. They come from waiting, watching, listening, being curious, making space. The quieter, more available we are, the more obvious the solution or the next step. There is nothing we can do to speed up the arrival of the insights or ideas and the harder we try the more disruptive we are. We are absolutely, utterly passive in this process.
Then we have an idea of something we want to create or do or bring to the world and we know it is just an idea, we know we can’t control the outcome, we know it won’t make us any more worthy or make people love us, we know it won’t bring us security.
And, far from keeping us stuck in front of the TV, knowing all of this releases the brakes.
We are powered by the force of the oceans, the energy of the tiger, the brilliance of Einstein, the stamina of the Masai, the lightness of the sunbeam. It is all there, coming out into the world through us, in the way that only we can do it, say it, create it.
There is nothing in the world to stop us going all out to bring into the world whatever came into our head. We are life’s energy, force, might and pure dynamism.