I often listen to podcasts in the morning. Out of the shower, getting ready for my day. Today’s didn’t really offer anything all that new. But apparently I need to hear the same thing – spoken a million different ways and a million different times by a million different people – before I actually hear it. Today was that day.
The guy was talking about his career. Well, his previous career, actually. He’d been the pastor of a huge church, thousands upon thousands attending every Sunday. The role required that he wear two predominant hats: one as leader, the other as teacher. He loved the teaching hat – the writing, the reading, the research, the crafting of new and innovate ways to communicate all that he held in his head and his heart. And though he didn’t often say it out loud, he saw this aspect of his work as “art.” The leadership part? That drug him down and made him crazy. So, he did what any person might do in a similar bind: he asked for advice. The “wisdom” he received? “Maybe your art needs to be sacrificed for the greater good, on behalf of your larger and more important responsibilities” (my paraphrase).
When seeking guidance, don’t ever listen to the tiny-hearted. Be kind to them, heap them with blessing, cajole them, but do not follow their advice. ~ Clarissa Pinkola Estes
He did not, thankfully. He eventually walked away and crafted an entirely different (and un-advised) life for himself that didn’t turn out all that badly, (He was recently on tour with Oprah).
Back to the podcast: there was more of his story, what happened after he walked away, etc., and then the part I’ve heard at least 999,999 times:
“You know that thing you just keep hearing inside, like a big kick-drum that just keeps going boom-boom, boom-boom in your chest? That thing? That’s the thing you’ve gotta do! No matter what! That’s your art. That’s your passion. You’re on the planet to pursue that beat!”
Yep. Got it. But this time, apparently the millionth time, here’s where I went:
What if Eve heard this podcast? What if having an interesting conversation with a snake and bucking the system and breaking the rules and reaching for the fruit and eating it and giving it to Adam and leaving the Garden and venturing out in the world and creating and living was the boom-boom, boom-boom in her chest?
Still a leap beyond-imagining? OK. How about this?
Once upon a time there was a woman who lived what appeared to be an idyllic life. Still, she felt like something was missing, like there was more to be seen and experienced, like something was calling her to a world beyond that one she currently knew. She could almost taste the opportunity to step into her truest self, to seal her destiny, to create her legacy. It was a HUGE decision, no question about it. There would be consequences to be sure. Still, how could she not reach out and grab all that she’d been imagining and dreaming and planning and hoping for so very long?
If she were my client here’s what I’d tell her:
That boom-boom, boom-boom? That’s the spark-of-the-Divine beating within you! Trust-trust, trust-trust that when you listen to and follow that beat, the life you will live will defy all stories ever told, will surpass anything you’ve imagined, will create legacy and impact beyond belief! In fact, your story, one of these days, will probably be one that is told until the end of time! How can you not reach for what you want?!? Yes, it will be hard. Yes, people may disagree with your decision. And yes, it’s highly possible there will be hell to pay (some would say, literally). But the story that is yours to tell and live? Epic stuff, truly!
That may be what I’d tell her (and you and certainly myself), but it’s hardly what we’ve been told about her. Instead, we (well, the collective, cultural “we”) have used her story as perfect example of what not to do, as irrefutable evidence that listening to and trusting the drum that beats within is just asking for trouble.
The stories we are told create the ways in which we make sense of the one in which we live. The way those same stories are interpreted define the rights and wrongs by which we live.
Eve’s story has determined how we understand right choices and wrong ones, risky choices and safe ones, wise choices and foolish ones. So instead of honoring her boom-boom, boom-boom, we have learned to listen to a familiar hiss that sounds a little something like this:
“Don’t follow that beat. Disaster and destruction surely await the entire planet (or at least your corner of the world) if you take that chance, state what’s true, write that post (or book), leave that job (or marriage), make that choice, eat that fruit, follow that beat. Don’t do it!”
But here’s the thing: Eve’s story is just a story…just like yours!
And because that’s true, I have total permission to tell her story as I wish (my boom-boom, boom-boom) and you have total permission to write, tell, and live brand new ones for yourself! Boom-boom, boom-boom!
Even if you don’t tell her story differently, I’m hopeful that hearing it for the millionth time will help you see it (and Eve) a new way; more importantly, that it will help you see your story a new way.
What story would you imagine, write, tell, and live if you could?
That, that is your boom-boom, boom-boom!
I’m right about this.
Boom-boom, boom-boom…May it be so.