This Article First Appeared in Thrive Global
Its August already. Where did the year go? The one for which we had more goals and dreams than perhaps any year we remember.
And yet, it feels like all we’ve done the first six months is avoid curve balls. And looking ahead, we feel just as uncertain about what’s to come. How much more will the virus mutate? How should we socialize? Or should we? Will our workplaces be safe again? Will the world ever be safe again?
Every day a new piece of global update catches our attention. And if it wasn’t bad enough dealing with the outside world, there’s the inner world to contend with. I no longer know what to expect of myself. Some days I feel positive, hopeful that something beautiful will emerge through this. And somedays I just don’t have the energy to seek the silver lining. It’s so much easier to turn to the easy emotions of cynicism and hurt and despair. It’s so much easier to react to other people’s words and behaviors, than try and remember that they’re dealing with their own inner worlds.
With the sense of control we’d built around our days all but gone, I’ve started finding solace in the quiet of the night. When the house is silent, and all is still with me and around me, I can connect to the ground I stand on. And always will. To that safe space within us that connects us to our human core, and reminds us of the purpose of life.
It’s there that I stop looking to the world for what it can do for me. And look inward for what I can do for it. It’s there that I stop yearning for perfection in order to live my life. And feel grateful for the blessing to get to live at all.
And with that, the regrets and frustration of a year half over turn into the gift of the chance to get this right.
Robert Kegan, Harvard professor and developmental psychologist, talks about how the vast majority of us are stuck at a stage in our personal growth that has no path forward. We’ve been pursuing goals that simply feed an inflated ego. And missing out on the fulfillment we seek as human beings.
To find it, we have to journey our way back to who we are. And then to engage in the important work of redemption. Because the reality is that we’re a broken species. This has been at the heart of every spiritual tradition, and many political movements. It’s been the birthplace of many creative endeavors, that recognized the place of human beings between animal and divine.
Somewhere along the road to progress, we began placing ourselves at the top of the world. Instead of redemption, we turned to perfection. 2020 has brought us back to the starting line.
So stop regretting the days spent at home. Stop pining for the weekend trips to the mall, the summer days in the park, the nights out with friends, the water cooler chats at work. They can all wait.
What cannot is the life that longs to live within you. Even through the pain and the hurt and the grief, 2020 can be the year you finally connected with your deepest longings. And began the important work of inner wholeness. And of living a whole-hearted life.