Winner: 2013’s Blog of the Year
You’re sitting there trying to figure out which road to take. Are you this, or are you that? Should you be in school or at a job? And what job? Working for who? And who should you be in a relationship with? Or should you be in a relationship at all? Should you choose this city or that one? This car or that one? Should you have skipped this party to be at that other one? Should you have said this or that? Blah blah blah goes your head.
Shoulda coulda woulda. If your aunt was a man she would be your uncle. Why are you even thinking/talking-to-yourself about what-ifs? Your speculation is meaningless. Stop using your thoughts to want to be somewhere or someone else. Stop using your internal conversations to discuss a different history with yourself. Can’t you see that your life is sitting still while you have those incessant internal conversations?
There are no wrong choices, there are only the choices you make. Be Present where you are because no amount of planning will give you a safe and secure path through life. You being safe and secure is not the point. You being alive is the point.
Your life is not a set of events. Read that again: your life is not a series of events. Your life is a stream of experiences. Stop trying to manage the events and start trying to manage the experiences. Because two people can be at the same event and have vastly different experiences. The difference between them is not where they were or what was happening outside of them, the difference was what they chose to focus their attention on within themselves.
That choice—the choice of what you invite into your awareness—is what forms your life experience. So stop thinking about how you wish you could fly, and start re-imagining yourself as someone who already can, because the only thing keeping you grounded is your belief that you can’t fly.
You’ll see me post Tony DeMello talks on the page occasionally. Tony was a Jesuit Priest, but more importantly he was an enlightened psychologist and a hilarious guy. He used to tell a story about you. I’ll paraphrase it from memory, but it’s in his excellent book Awareness, and I would highly recommend reading it. Tony was an excellent guru.
Someone once took an egg from an eagle’s nest and placed it under a barnyard hen. A chicken sat on the egg and eventually it hatched. All his life the little eagle grew up with chickens, and he did as the chickens around him did. He walked around pecking at the ground for worms and insects, clucking and cackling, and like them he occasionally fluttered his wings for a short hop through the air.
Years passed and the eagle grew very old. One day he was pecking away with all of the chickens in the yard and a large shadow passed overhead. The barnyard eagle looked up in awe at a magnificent, giant golden eagle. It hovered effortlessly over the farmyard, held aloft by only a small breeze. The little bird asked his chicken-friend, “Who is that?!”
The other chicken looked up to see the eagle floating majestically, high above them. “That is the eagle. He is the king of the sky. He has the freedom to fly wherever he chooses.”
He’s magnificent,” said the eagle. “I so wish I could fly like he does.”
Yes, that would be nice,” replied the chicken. “But the eagle belongs to the sky. And we are chickens, and chickens belong on the ground.”
And so the eagle looked back down to the dirt in the barnyard, where he began scratching and picking at the dry ground again. And in the end the eagle never did fly. Instead he lived and died just like all of the other barnyard chickens. Because that is what he thought he was.
You are not a chicken. You are an eagle. So stop looking downward in some panicked effort to find more or better seeds than your neighbour. Forget competing with the chickens of ego. Stop using the weight of your own judgmental thinking to hold your spirit down. Instead, use the wings of your imagination to lift you to heights you previously did not know belonged to you. You’ll not only have a much greater perspective, but your freedom will be an inspiration to all of the other chickens.
There is no right or wrong way to fly. There are no good or bad paths through the sky. There is only flying. Now go be an eagle.
Scott McPherson is a writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own overthinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.