18 Jun Trust Your Guiding Light and Step Into the Unknown
When the world is dark, I find my greatest source of light. It’s days before the trip. Without an alarm, I look at my watch on the bedside table. It’s 5 a.m., my favorite time to write.
My mind is lucid when the moon still shines; all is quiet, and I listen to the birds begin their gentle chatter. I open my computer and check my final grade for my master’s curriculum writer’s workshop class. Tears well up in my eyes as I lean closer to the screen. I read my professor’s message again:
“If you can write through this time, you can write well through anything. The time has come to write your own story, as you see it now.”
This is the opening of my book, Arrows of Youth: A Young Man’s Inspiring Journey to Find What Lights His Soul on Fire.
Encouragement is the greatest gift we can give to another human being. Without ever receiving my professor’s hopeful words, I wouldn’t be on the verge of publishing my first book, a journey that has brought me tremendous joy and a greater appreciation for what I’m capable of.
So often, we refrain from acting on an intuition, from taking a leap of faith, from diving into the unknown because nobody has told us it’s okay to jump.
But if we’re waiting for somebody to tell us we’re made to fly, we’ll wait our entire lives looking up at the clouds when we should be soaring amongst them.
My professor’s words came as a gift and awakened a part of me that always existed, but perhaps just needed a kindling of recognition to ignite. There won’t always be someone to tell us to act on our intuition; in fact, it’s a miracle if someone does. But we can be that miracle for others.
If we never hear the fateful words: you have what it takes, we must find the courage within ourselves to take that first step into the unknown.
If nothing else, I’ve been put on this Earth to pass along these words of hope and say: You have what it takes.
Confronting Resistance & Trusting in Life
Resistance tells us we’re not worth it.
Resistance tells us not to act on our intuition.
It tells us not to take up the brush, the pen, or the microphone because that isn’t who we are. If we listen to the resistance, we’ll remain forever incomplete. In the words of writer and essayist Anaïs Nin:
And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death. Living never wore one out so much as the effort not to live.
No matter how strong the forces of resistance are that tell us not to follow our instinct, there are forces even stronger that will guide us along, if we have the courage to take that first step into the unknown voluntarily.
When we’re greeted by the unknown involuntarily, we’re prone to panic, worry, and fear. But when we purposefully face the unknown and trust that we will be alright through the highs and the lows that will inevitably come, the unknown becomes the greatest proponent of positive change in our lives.
Light Watkins writes in his inspiring book, Knowing Where to Look:
You are relaxed to the extent that you trust in life.
The most valuable thing we can do to quell any fear about the future is take action today, and trust that the future will work out if we give today everything we have.
Our need to control what’s going to happen in the future by having the entire plan mapped out holds us back from taking the first step.
What will happen if it doesn’t work out? What will I do if I fail, if I run out of money or ideas, or any of the other semblances of security?
In Knowing Where to Look, Watkins discusses this fear of taking that initial leap into the void:
Mark Twain famously said that our two most important days in life are the day we are born and the day we find out why. But I would add a third day to that philosophy: the day we start taking action on our purpose — our why.
People spend years contemplating their passion and purpose without ever taking meaningful action. But we could make the argument that out of our three most important days, the third is the most important. And the best news of all is that day can be today. A small but meaningful action step will suffice.
Seeing Every Day as a Gift
There’s something important taking place right now, something that we’re all a part of beyond our comprehension. We’re creating a future to step into, not merely through the big events, the groundbreaking moments, or the technologies that are getting us back to “normal.”
We’re shaping our future through our ability to see today as a gift. We all have something important to give — not only our gifts, but our attention, our compassion, our love, our patience. Perhaps when we realize this, we’ll take every single moment of the day seriously.
To take the moment seriously is not to act without joy — quite the opposite. It’s realizing that this moment is precious. Why not make it a joyful one? When we take the moment seriously, we’ll truly be present in the conversation when talking to a stranger.
We’ll trust ourselves and follow our instincts. Unlike our usually over-analytical mind, our instincts will lead us on a journey of discovery unlike we’ve ever known.
Our guiding light is nudging us every day towards our why. Yet if you’re not yet feeling called to your why, don’t worry, it will come if you continue to trust, and stay open to being inspired by any situation.
Our why isn’t necessarily a new creative idea or a business that will change the world. Our why may simply be the still small voice, telling us to wake up and create a new reality.
Trusting Ourselves in Daily Acts of Courage
We think we have to do these big, influential things to change the world. There’s a pressure to do so, and often that fear can be more paralyzing than helpful. It may take years to find what we’re on this planet to do.
Perhaps more important than discovering our great idea that will make us “successful” are our daily acts of kindness, love, and encouragement for one another.
These are calls of inspiration, guiding us into the unknown.
How often do we heed the call and speak up when it’s uncomfortable? How often do we walk by a stranger and want to say something, a compliment or a joke, yet fear holds us back?
These subtle, seemingly trivial actions are the true igniters of change that the world needs. Not necessarily a ripple effect, but a shift in energy felt in a distant time and place.
These courageous acts are beyond our grasp — but when we act and another soul receives it, we’re altering the universe.
In our social-media-centric world, it’s almost as if what we do doesn’t matter unless it’s documented, recorded, and proven to have taken place.
I often wonder as the event unfolds how I’ll capture the moment and portray it on social media. This is something to be mindful of: are we doing what we’re doing to prove something, or because the act of doing it is what actually matters?
The Story of Interbeing
Social philosopher, public speaker, and author Charles Eisenstein caused me to think deeply about this subject as I read his book The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible, which compares the story of Separation — the old story of the world — with the new world we may step into: the story of Interbeing.
In the story of Interbeing, we’re all connected.
Every act bears great significance.
What we do to others, we do to ourselves. We’re all interconnected souls seeing the world from a different set of eyes. I believe this — not because Eisenstein proves it to be true, but because believing it creates a more beautiful world to live in. He writes:
Even if no one ever finds out about your act of compassion, even if the only visible witness is a dying person, the effect is no less than if someone makes a feature documentary about it. I am advocating a kind of confidence in the significance of all that we do, even when our vision cannot penetrate the mysterious, meandering paths through which our actions arrive in the larger world. The acts that change the world most profoundly are the ones that the mind of Separation cannot fathom.
When we become more comfortable acting on our thoughts that nobody will see, hear, or appreciate except the recipient of the compliment or the favor, we’re developing our instincts as proponents of positive change.
Acting on these instincts won’t only change that person’s life who you took the time to appreciate. It will drastically change yours.
The personal, local, or invisible actions I have been discussing do not preclude other kinds of actions such as writing a book or organizing a boycott,
In fact, listening to the call and trusting the timing of the former foster the same disposition toward the latter. I am talking about a wholesale movement into a place of Interbeing, and acting from that place in each kind of situation. The universe calls forth different of our gifts at different moments. When the call is for the small and personal, let us heed that, so that we develop the habit of heeding it when it is big and public.
You Don’t Have to See the Whole Staircase to Take the First Step
If you have an inkling that your thing, your idea, your business, your song might bring you joy, if only to work at it for a day, then you’re being called to do it.
We don’t need to have the entire map laid out before we embark on the path that we know deep down would bring us joy, purpose, and meaning.
We can learn to trust our intuition in the small as well as the big, and go.
When we do, the path forward will emerge like stones on the shore, uncovered by a flowing sea. As Martin Luther King Jr. stated:
You don’t have to see the whole staircase, you just take the first step.
The act of doing the thing is the purpose. It’s not to see the result come into fruition and have it reach a million people, but to have it reach just one person and change that person’s life.
Furthermore, this daily action will certainly change your life, as you will learn about who you are throughout creating. If I learned anything from writing my book, this was it.
The purpose of starting is not to reach the result. It’s to explore who you truly are, every step of the way.
It’s scary to begin; I know it. But that fear is a sign that it’s what you must do. The same fear that tells us not to speak up is the same one that says: hold off from starting for one more day.
The world needs you to do your thing, take that first step, share your voice, so that somebody else will find the strength to share theirs.