The Whole World Smiles With You
“By three methods we may learn wisdom: first, by reflection, which is the noblest; second, by imitation, which is the easiest; and third, by experience, which is the most bitter.” -Confucius
It’s been a year since I was forced to really sit down and look into myself and do some hard self-reflection. I asked many questions. I inundated myself with all the questions that came to mind after she left. For the first three months, I didn’t know this but I was asking the wrong questions. I’d ask something like “Why don’t I have enough time?” or “Why don’t I have enough time for myself or relationships important to me?” and most importantly, “Is really all my fault?”. Asking these types of questions will only lead to a simple answer and not so simple solution because it would only beg me to ask more questions. After a while I simply forgot what I was trying to do. Was I following the path I promised myself when everything happened? Did I fulfill my promise of real and actionable change that can be seen in my life by others? After going through the process for the last year I can honestly say, real and honest change is something that really forces one to look at parts, not just of your life, but who you see in the mirror. I simply did not know the man that stared back at me. What was even scarier was that he smirked at me every time I looked up. This had to change.
Why don’t I enough time? Time for whom? For what? To do what? Not the right question to start off with. Too vague. Next.
Why don’t I have enough time for myself or relationships important to me? I got a bit more specific and reaching into the heart of what may have been a catalyst of unfortunate events that may have been the best thing in my life. Bittersweet. I’d look at my volunteer positions, what I was doing for work, how I spent time with friends. Digging into the minute to minute events of my life. Weeks I tore into this subject. I scoured every moment of the previous few years and wondered where I chose wrong and decided poorly. I would look at the moments my business took over my life at night, or when we would both be home and not doing anything. How I poured so much into something that I got little in return (again…my business). Why did I keep the business going? Why couldn’t I walk away? Many nights ended in tears just trying to wrap my head around my decisions and why did I do what I did. Hindsight is always 20/20. It was easy to see where I went wrong. I broke apart every action and decision I made or committed. I broke myself down and questioned every single decision I’ve ever made. Quickly digressing from the original question of trying to find time for myself and of relationships really important to me. Only at the time I thought I was doing some really deep productive self-reflection. I thought that if one question turned into 3 more specific questions, I must be on the right path to a better me. Right?!
You can’t ever put yourself in a place of change if you just dig deeper to only find more things to tear apart. What would be the outcome? To realize that which I already knew, I didn’t choose correctly. Clearly. She left.
My epiphany was the moment I realized that the question asked WAS the problem. My state of mind was my road block. Why don’t I have enough time for myself or relationships important to me? Not what I was really wanting to know. I changed my state of mind and the question morphed naturally to; How can I make more time for myself and those I care about? Mind blown.
Such a simple question but something I didn’t see to ask a year ago. Why not? Who cares! I did not see it for whatever reason. But I trusted the process and came to it now. It’s something that I will always ask myself. It’s my self-audit, if you will. This simple change of focus made me look at my life though simpler lenses. Clearly I didn’t try to make more time because my focus was trying to be successful and never give up. Give up what? I did not give enough time to a relationship that was dying. I didn’t even see the death. I was just told it died and had already been buried. The fact that all relationships end because both partners fail in some way is irrelevant. Her shortcomings in the relationship are hers and not mine to ask. I can only be responsible for my actions. Why didn’t I make time for myself and thus making time for those important to me?
Today I am successful; I make time. Life is short. I survived two near death experiences in 2011. I am about to greet 2013. The sun is brighter, and the wind hugs me every time I feel it. I look back on the good times I’ve had with her and will keep them with me forever. I look forward to my new life in whatever form it decides to take. It’s how I see life that has made the biggest impact on how I live life.
There’s an old Japanese folktale I came across earlier this year that really says it well:
Long ago in a small, far away village, there was a place known as the “House of 1000 Mirrors.”
A small, happy little dog learned of this place and decided to visit. When he arrived, he bounced happily up the stairs to the doorway of the house. He looked through the doorway with his ears lifted high and his tail wagging as fast as it could. To his great surprise, he found himself staring at 1000 other happy little dogs with their tails wagging just as fast as his. He smiled a great smile and was answered with 1000 great smiles just as warm and friendly.
As he left the house, he thought to himself, “This is a wonderful place. I will come back and visit often!”
In this same village, another little dog, who was not quite as happy as the first one, decided to visit the house. He slowly climbed the stairs and hung his head low as he looked through the doorway. When he saw 1000 unfriendly looking dogs staring back at him, he growled at them and was horrified to see 1000 little dogs growling back at him.
As he left, he thought to himself, “That is a horrible place. I will never go back there again.”
Life is a boomerang. What you throw out there is what comes back to you. Truth!
This has been my past year. Many people have helped me see this light and continue to inspire me in many everyday things. I am grateful for everyone in my life! I look forward with a new set of eyes heading into a world I cannot wait to explore. What else can I say but to wait until I get to share this journey with someone again is what I wish for, but until then, lets enjoy what is here today.