I had a long list of things to talk through with my coach Michael Neill. Why wasn’t I more productive? Why wasn’t I finishing some of the things I had started? Why wasn’t I creating more programmes? Why wasn’t I signing up more clients? I was looking forward to a call in which we analysed all the obstacles to what I wanted, developed some actions to achieve them, got set up with a plan.
Yeah. Right. Forget all that.
The call turned into the most beautiful exploration of how we know what to do, of the nature of resolve, of simple, unquestioning commitment and of the perfection of what is, right now. I ended the call with an intense appreciation of my life exactly as it is and with the understanding that it is this appreciation, this ‘not needing to change a single thing’ that is the rock solid foundation of lasting change.
What I realised through the conversation was that our lives don’t change by thinking things should be different and going out to force them to change. They might change temporarily on the surface. Underneath, though, the level of understanding that was creating that individual reality, and therefore that behaviour, remains the same.
Thinking we should change or that things should be different is the crash diet that puts on the pounds. The New Year’s resolution that ends mid-January with a sigh of self disgust. The chanting an ‘I am a millionaire’ affirmation into the bathroom mirror while our annual salary is going down the plug hole. The sorting out bad relationships by cutting off family members. The hundred push ups on day one and zero on day two. This is brittle, vitreous change driven by insecure thinking which can only ultimately create more insecure thinking and more unrest.
True lasting change occurs through a greater understanding of what our lives really are, of what they mean, of what is truthful in them. Because through that understanding we become different people living in a different reality. And as a different person in that different reality we will have a different resolve about what to do and a different wisdom available to help us do it.
We become a different person with a different reality… It sounds dramatic but there is no other way to describe it. The slightest change in our perspective affects what we notice, how we react, what we know about ourselves and others, what is important or irrelevant. A fraction degree change in the course of an ocean liner sets it towards an entirely different continent. A fraction degree change in our understanding leads to an entirely different life, to a different way of being, to different relationships and different resolve.
And all of it is perfect. Whether I am this person, in this reality with this wisdom or that person in that reality with that wisdom doesn’t make the slightest bit of difference. It is impossible for me to see beyond where I am right now because that involves looking at the world through eyes that I have not yet acquired, with a perspective that is not yet available to me.
In other words I cannot acquire resolve to do something that I don’t yet have resolve to do. I cannot change something that doesn’t, with my current understanding of who I am and how the world is, make sense for me to change.
So all I have is right now.
And I can’t change this ‘right now’ because change will come when I see things differently and I don’t yet. If this ‘right now’ is all I have then it is everything. And because it is everything I have and because I cannot change it, it has to be perfect, right now.
So there are only two things I can do in any one moment:
- Look for the perfection
This moment of saying good bye is the last time I see them as they are right now. The blossom of this Spring will never be seen again. This moment is the only moment which I will experience as I am right now. Our lives are over in the blink of an eye and they are made up of single moments of blink of an eye, never to be repeated, perfection.
Each moment is a perfect gift and the only thing that stops us seeing it is that we believe things should be different. They cannot be different so where is the gift? (And please be aware of the effort I made here not to use the ‘present’ pun).
So where is the perfection in the pain, the heart break, the grief, the shouting match, the redundancy, the bill that sends us over the edge, the car crash, the diagnosis, the divorce, the rejection?
The perfection is there. With 100% certainty it is there. And this has nothing to do with positive thinking or putting on a brave face or pretending or looking for the silver lining. It is about tuning our ears to hear the indistinct and inarticulate whisper of love in our ear while we are shouting in anger. It is about gazing at the disaster scene and realising that in the periphery there is a blur of people running towards it to help. It is about sensing that if we allowed our armour to soften we would notice the hand in ours.
Because by extending the range and depth of what we notice, we extend the range and depth of our reality. When the Hubble operators controversially allowed the telescope to stare for 10 days at a seemingly empty sliver of sky, the resulting images of never-before-seen galaxies rocked the world. There is always more there. Whatever we see is fixed in place by our state of mind. Indeed, it is only there because of our state of mind. It is just one thing in an infinite landscape of things that we could also notice.
To see things differently, is to become a different person. As a different person, we will do things differently. For now it is enough just to know that if we are not seeing the perfection, it is because there is always, always, always more to see. Our own personal infinite star systems are there however blank the sky.
2. Listen for the calling
The reason the moment is perfect is because we receive wisdom designed exactly for that moment. Cathy Casey, a coach who has worked with prisoners and with teenage gangs, talks of the ‘street wisdom’ that keeps them safe in even the most dangerous situations. The wisdom we receive is designed for us right now, with our weight, our health, our income, our relationships, in this house, with these pressures, in this situation, all exactly as they are right now.
In any given moment there will be a calling that relates exactly to this moment. There will be an obviousness of what is required. It might be to sleep, to make the phone call, to listen, to do nothing, to work, to walk, to run, to eat, to drink, to cry, to shout, to cook, to plan a holiday, to open a retirement account, to write, to practice, to strike for goal, to teach the class, to resign, to make love, to do twenty star jumps…
Whatever it is, it is there, for the life we have right now, unique to us. The calling is designed to allow us to move in the direction of the realisation of our true nature and true potential. It is change by nature. It is change without any apparent change. It is designed to keep us alive, conscious, aware, with a working body-vehicle expanding towards the realisation of who we are and what we are capable of and how much amazement we can have while doing it. The calling of each moment is so obvious that most of the time we just follow it without a second thought.
Then sometimes, our mind dips, we feel insecure, we start to question and we do have a second thought. We consider resisting the calling, we try to second guess it, we think we have to put something else in its place (therein lies our free will). But it is obvious for a reason. Let the obviousness win out. (You don’t want to muddle up making love and doing twenty star jumps for example. Just saying.)
So it is through this combination of seeing the perfection and acting on the calling that we move through the layers of understanding. The obstacles and pain we see in front of us become tiny amid the abundance of everything else that is clearly apparent. The noise of our insecure thinking begins to sound harsh and discordant as the wisdom of each moment becomes more resonant and perfectly pitched.
With each new thing we see, each new piece of wisdom we follow, our reality changes. And this new reality brings more things to notice, more wisdom to follow and a completely new resolve for what we want to do in the world.
Nothing to change. Just sounds to hear, people to see, hands to squeeze and things to notice and let happen…