“I’m going to stop working in five years,” Peter said. “After I’ve finished paying for my son’s law school tuition.” (This after Peter told me that the average lifespan of a trial lawyer is 57. Peter, a trial lawyer, is 55.)
“I’m going to start the fitness program as soon as my son starts kindergarten.”
“I’m going to go back for my degree when my youngest is out of college.”
“We’re going to take the trip to France right after I finish the next project.”
“I can’t take time off this year; we’re down a staff member.”
“If the house didn’t need painting this year, we’d get away to the Cape.”
“If I could just find a new job and a fresh place to live, I could get out of this crappy relationship.” (This more than six months after we first had this conversation.)
“Before I do the product launch, I need to take the copywriting course and learn SEO.”
“I’m going to finish the book (really I am), but right now I just don’t have the time.”
As a coach, I hear every story there is about why it is that now is not the right time, the auspicious time, the convenient time to do what we feel called to do, drawn to do, really want to do; to do what makes our hearts sing, our spirits soar.
Perhaps out of fear (of success or failure), or convention (what will people think?) or inertia or resistance, we create (artificial) barriers to the lives we really want to live; we imagine forces that must be fought and overcome before we do what really makes us happy. We imagine tigers that must be slain.
I love that old Buddhist story of the monk who is being chased through the jungle by tigers. He comes to the edge of a cliff as the tigers close in behind him. A hundred feet below, six more tigers claw at the base. The monk jumps from the cliff and on his way down grabs for a vine to stop himself. As he hangs by the vine, he sees a mouse gnawing at it. And just in that moment, he spies a fresh ripe strawberry growing out from the cliff face. The monk plucks the strawberry, tastes it and revels in its sweetness. ”My how good this is,” he says.
Here is the truth: Now is all we have. Now is the only moment in which we can create the lives we want to live.
As I write in Journeys, “dreams delayed are dreams denied.”
When we defer the call of our souls, we get angry and sad and bitter and resentful.
And the reality is, a step in the direction of our dreams usually doesn’t require a whole lot of time or a ton of resources or monumental change. We don’t need to throw the baby (or the husband) out with the bathwater. The step forward can be a tiny one.
And then another.
Do what you’ve always dreamed of doing.
Do it now.
There is no time to waste.
There will always be tigers.
This is an encore of a post first published on October 4, 2012