Truly Powerful People (166)

Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

I’m having a Buddhist moment. Sometimes I think I have lived my entire life in a state of resistance: resistance to where I am (I should be better, faster, stronger, more successful, less busy, taller, fatter, thinner, tanner, straighter teeth,….).

If I am not in resistance, I am grasping for something (the next play, the next painting, the next project, the next pay check, more meaning, clearer vision, a simpler life, presence, one more dark beer, peanut M&M’s,….).

Who am I if I am not pushing back or chasing after? What’s the point if I am not resisting or grasping? What if there are no dragons to slay and no gold to accumulate? These questions are so simple and yet if I really stop and think about them the whole castle begins to fall. I know enough by now (I hope) to understand that happiness ensues: it is not something you chase. Rather, it is something that follows and it has a better chance of catching me when I stop chasing stuff and cease pushing my present moment away.

Maybe, the point is to let the castle fall, to see who I am if I am not fortified behind a stone wall or so busy looking ahead that I can’t see what is right in front of me.

I have this sense that my happiness is trying really hard to catch me. You?

Truly Powerful People (165)

Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

[continued from 164]

There’s more to be said about the experience of being “in” the play or “out” of the play, being “in” life or “out” of life. It is more than just where you place your focus. Something happens, something distinct, important and tangible when your focus shifts from an internal to an external placement. A space of inclusion is created.

I understood early on that actors who were pretending, actors who were concerned about how they looked or were trying to determine what the audience saw, were actually blocking the audience from entering the story. If an actor’s focus was internal, they literally shut the audience out of the play; the audience could view but were blocked from participating. Transformation is a participation sport.

Like all forms of art, the theatre, in its essence, is about a coming-together, a group of people stepping into a shared experience. This space of coming together, this space of inclusion, is a step toward unity – this is a great definition for a sacred space; sacred space is a place of joining, a place where we transcend our little selves and we experience ourselves as something bigger. Sacred space is created – by us – when we place our focus outside of our selves. This joining is what art is all about. It is what life is all about.

I suspect that art, to truly serve its function, was never intended to be separate from day to day living. We are, after all, actors in our own play. And to be useful, to be transformational, living (presence) begins with learning to place your focus outside of yourself – in service to the creation of a space of joining.

Truly Powerful People (164)

Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

Jim Edmondson is one of America’s great theatre directors and for a few years at the beginning of my career I was fortunate to assist him several times and was able to call him friend. He told me once that the best actors are only “in” the play about 40% of the time. I was amazed because I thought the best of the best were capable of a higher percentage. I learned that what he told me was true; it is herculean to be present in a performance 40% of the time!

So much of what he taught me has carried over into this broader study of life. Think about it: how present are you “in” your life? Do you ever hit 40%? Will you ever be present 40% of your allotted time on this earth? It’s a tough one to crack because trying to be present guarantees that you are “out” of your play (because you are watching yourself). It is herculean to allow yourself to be “in” life, even if you know what your play is.

I like the terms “in” or “out” of the play, meaning to be present or not. It is a trick of language when “in” the play means your focus is out side of your self. You are “in” your life when your focus is on something other than your self, forget about your self and flow is yours! “Out” of the play means you are concerned about how you look or how others perceive you. It’s hard to be in the flow when your awareness is dancing with the inner critics.
Jim taught me a trick for when I would fall out of the play (life). Place your focus to something small, your thumbnail or a flower or a scent on the air – and once you have it, once your attention is “out there,” open it to include the people in the play with you. In the end, the play is not about you or me, it is about the space between us; flow is about the relationship we create together.

Truly Powerful People (163)

Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

I can’t help it – it is what I’m writing today so it is dominating my thoughts. More writing from the CreateNow Workbook. This is from what I’m writing for week 3 of the course:

Where are you? On what mountain are you standing? From what point of view are you asking questions about your life?

Before reading further do this exercise: On a piece of paper draw a pyramid. What themes, labels and judgments do you layer on yourself (good enough or not good enough, lacking or abundant, resilient or fragile,…). Write the labels, themes, and judgments in the pyramid. Now, draw a small stick figure (this is you) standing on top of the pyramid. What you wrote in the pyramid is your point of view; it is the screen through which you sift your experiences.

If you believe that you are standing on a mountain of deficiency, a pyramid of worthlessness, your fulfillment will look like a distant meadow. It is some other place. Every question you ask will be asked from a place of deficiency and reinforce the idea that what you want is some other place outside of you. What you see is separation. The story structure that you buttress holds the notion that there is an arrival place, another mountain or meadow – some other place called creative or happy or fulfilled. In this story your focus is on an outcome or result that resides somewhere out there in the distant future.

Look at the words in the pyramid. Are any of the labels absolute? Are you always good enough, not good enough or just sometimes? Are you poor every moment or just when you think about it? Are you abundant all the time or is it passing? Is it true that you are not creative enough? Why is this label your statement of being, your identity of choice? Do you even know what perfect is? Why is any of it fixed, absolute, or true?

None of the labels, themes, or self-accusations matter; what matters is that the labels locate you in a story of resistance; resistance to being where you are. Do you think you need to be some other place or some other person in order to find fulfillment? Your point of view, the mountain upon which you stand is called separation. You’ve separated your self from your self; in this story you will always look somewhere else for your answer and your fulfillment.

There is another way but it requires you to stop resisting where you are, cease trying to be something that you are not. It requires you to shift your focus from outcomes and investments in control. It requires you to focus on process and creating quality relationships. What would it look like to show up without justification, explanation, masking, hiding, or apology? How can you show up alive and 100% in?

Truly Powerful People (162)

Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

Today I began writing the workbook for Patti and my next telecoaching course, CreateNow, based on Patti’s latest book, Creative Is A Verb. These thoughts are the frame for the first week’s exploration. All day I’ve been thinking about the questions posed so I decided to post them here as they apply to the path walked by Truly Powerful People:

Creativity is your birthright. It is possible for you to believe that you are not creative but it is impossible for you to fulfill that belief. You are infinitely creative; all the proof you need is inside your head. Listen to that inner voice telling you that this day is good or bad, that you have worth or not, that you wish people would get out of your way, that people won’t like you if they really knew who you are, that your new shoes are cool or daring or comfortable: that is you creating. That voice is you narrating the story of your life. What story are you telling? What do you want to create?

Unfortunately, for reasons too many to enumerate, early on in our lives most of us divorce ourselves from our creative identity. Ask a kindergarten class who is an artist and every hand will shoot to the sky. Ask a class of 5th graders the same question and a timid few might dare to claim that they are creative. What happens to us?

In her book, Radical Acceptance, Tara Brach tells the story of a daughter holding vigil at her mother’s deathbed. The mother regained consciousness before dying and said, “You know, all my life I thought something was wrong with me.” And then she shook her head as if to say, “What a waste.”

There is nothing wrong with you. Why do you need to put a disclaimer on your identity as a creative being? How are you blocking yourself or limiting your full creative capacity?

Truly Powerful People (161)

Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

When David O. turned 40 he had a dream. In his dream he saw the end of his life. He saw how the first 40 years passed in the blink of an eye and knew the rest of his life would pass just as quickly. In his dream he asked himself if he was doing with his life what he wanted to do with it. His answer was no.

He was a doctor and had a very successful practice. Being a doctor was what was expected of him. It was practical. It was lucrative. Some days he managed to believe it was a kind of service. It was a career but never a calling. It was work. He had no trouble answering the cocktail party question, “So, what do you do?”

He awoke from his dream and bought a camera. He began taking photographs of the seashore. He wasn’t interested in taking pretty pictures. He was interested in seeing the place where he lived, really seeing it. He wanted to engage. He wanted to be a part of this place, not merely move through it. He told me that photography became a way of putting down roots, an attempt at belonging.

As he began exploring his external geography, he also explored his internal geography; it is impossible to do one without the other. He recognized that, in putting down roots, he was creating a kind of legacy. With belonging comes commitment: to say, “I am part of this place,” means the place is also a part of you. The geography becomes you; you become the geography. You sense the air and feel the rhythms.

David O. told me that he was coming alive or perhaps he was coming back to life. Yes. I think he meant that literally: life is waiting for us to come back to it. All that is required is to awake from the dream (I’m a doctor) and recognize that you are so much more than what you do.

Truly Powerful People (160)

Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

This is what a friend said to me today: ”I know how to create a better life for myself. I recognize that I am always living in fear and looking toward tomorrow or angry at the past. I know that I can’t do anything about those things. I know that if I slow down and open to the intensity of the moment, I will see the subtleties. It’s the little things in the moment that give breath to life.”


And then she said: “I know this. Why don’t I do it? Why do I drive myself crazy never being where I am but fighting past battles or resisting and fearing things that most likely will never happen? What is that about? I think it is a kind of addiction. I think I’m addicted to the drama. I think being a victim is addictive.”

Amen again.

Being a victim is addictive. What do you know about dealing with addictions? There is no magic bullet, only different choices and a determination not to dull or artificially heighten life (both take you out of it), but to live in it. And, as my friend so beautifully said, “Slow down and open to the intensity of the moment; see the subtleties.”