We all have our part to play. We all have a choice to step into life, to be present and take our responsibility. We can choose to feel and express, notice and act.
There are these moments when it is very clear to us that we have choice. Often these moments entail situations we’ve stumbled upon before repeatedly in some form or another. Something dooms in us. Maybe there is a different way to deal with it. Maybe there is a possibility beyond tired toleration or anxious avoidance. Maybe we can finally step into life to play our part.
Let’s play it. Let’s get onto that stage and experiment, try out, fail, fall, and get a little better at our performance called presence and authenticity. Let’s call it a dance, an improvisation, anything that encourages us to stay there, to keep on going and growing.
Birds and bread
I’ll give you an example from my experience. There are moments when I stumble upon people who happily feed ducks and other birds with bread. It pains me, this paradox of a family or an individual finding joy in (unconsciously) poisoning other species. Bread is no healthy food for ducks. They become obese, aggressive and die sooner. They eat less of that green stuff making whole ponds overgrow. Again and again, these situations appear. Again and again, I feel the sadness of how we treat our fellow beings and the earth. Again and again, I avoid walking up to someone and starting about my concerns around bread and birds.
Why? Because I’m scared. My words might cause hurt in the people I’m talking to, I might have got it wrong after all, I might make a total fool of myself not finding words or courage… So nothing changes.
Alright. I hear myself, I see. And I assure myself that instead of making this next encounter with people, ducks and bread not about perfection, but about presence. Let me hop on that stage and play my part, one tiny gentle move at a time. Let me share my concern instead of declaring my opinion or saying nothing at all. Let me breathe and be honest (to myself and possibly the other person) about the adventurous step I am taking here. Let me play my part in authenticity. Without the expectation to formulate everything clearly in one go. With the risk of confusing or even hurting others. With the risk of ridicule and aggression. Let me move from merely witnessing to taking action. So life can move and flow more freely and freshly again. Both for me and for the person feeding the birds.
Another example may sound familiar to many of you. It is about moments in my childhood, when I really didn’t feel at home in some peer groups. Depending on the situation there were a few coping mechanisms: Trying to adopt to behaviour, characteristics or looks of others to fit in. Literally leaving, in the conviction that there was no space for me. Finding refuge in daydreaming to not feel the discomfort at hand (thus also leaving). In short and hindsight: limited ways to deal with friction.
Today, however, I and we have the power, right and even responsibility to choose a different way. One that creates movement instead of stagnation. We can step in, instead of sneaking out. We can stay present with feelings of displacement or loneliness. We can voice our discomfort, our fear, as much as our love and admiration. We can be open, vulnerable and thus strong, courageous. We can share our desires, discomforts, needs. Only then do others get the chance to hear and see us. Only then can the collective adjust, and the universe respond to us in a supportive way.
Take stage and enjoy the show
Imagine life is a stage. Let us not only sit in the audience and observe it from a distance. Life wants to experience (through us). Experiences want to be lived (by us). Fully. Not only the heroic, pleasant, joyful ones. The embarrassing, painful, uncomfortable ones just as much. And everything in between and beyond.
So here we are. All unique expressions of life that’s so eager to experience itself in all these unique ways. Let us be audience and performances at the same instant. Let us play our parts and experience in full awareness. No one can do it for us. But we can inspire each other. Remind and support each other to be present and true to ourselves, our deepest needs and values. Whatever form that might take.
Listening. Observing. And then playing our part. Not any part, not every part, our part. You’ll know it’s yours when the universe seems to gather in that one moment, your heart starts beating a little faster in a mix of fear and enthusiasm, and somewhere deep inside you know there’s no way back. This is your moment, step in, take stage, play your part and enjoy the show.
Note: I wrote this blog post a few weeks ago. Now, on finishing it for publication, I am very much reminded of a wonderful book I just finished reading yesterday: Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brené Brown. What a delicious read (I went through it in less than a day time) and such an encouragement to live boldly, authentically and to find true belonging in yourself.