I’m Andrew Chirch, an Interfaith advisor and coach. 99 is a special weekly podcast series where we meet for 9 minutes to regroup, re-center ourselves, and prepare for the work ahead.
Subscribe here to listen on your favorite podcast app, or you can use the player at the top of this post. A transcript is below.
Think of how much has changed. In your whole life, just over the last few days, or whatever comes to mind. Go ahead. I’ll give you a moment to get a sense of it.
Even if I don’t know you, I know this much about you.
You wouldn’t be here – even listening to this – if you didn’t have stories to tell… old scars and maybe new ones that shape who you are.
I’ve heard so many quotes and pieces of wisdom about change… about how we are always in the process of becoming, and never really”complete” (whatever that means,) and how the secret to success(whatever THAT means) is through continual small changes – improvements.
Today’s theme isn’t change, though. It’s the other.
I know I, for one, have devoted so much of my life and energy to change – either fighting against it, or looking for it – trying to make it happen.
Why is that?
In my life, it’s often about pursuing some idea of perfection… like, “oh… I’m so happy in this relationship, I wish it would never change.” —and I try everything in my power to make the world stop in this one perfect place.
Probably more often, I’m doing the other — “if I can just get this new thing to happen, life will finally be perfect… or at least, SO MUCH BETTER!”
The few times I’ve tried surfing, I’ve been caught up in this thinking… I’m floating there, waiting for the perfect wave to come alongto give me the perfect ride in to the shore. I count the waves, I study the waythey curl in different places, and spend my time trying to put myself in JUSTthe right spot.
When one comes that seems like THE ONE, my heartbeat picks up, I start to give myself over to the effort of going with the wave instead of against it.
And yet, there’s often this little tug of doubt in the back of my mind. I know this SHOULD be the ONE, but what if it’s not? What if the perfect wave is the next one? or what if the whole pattern of waves has changed now, and the perfect zone is farther down the beach now? Am I missing out? Should I give 100% right now – or should I hold back just a little incase…?”
Here’s where my story about a wave stops making anysense… I get so wrapped up in adapting myself to the world outside – in trying to be in sync with whatever it is (the market, someone else in a relationship, fashion, )… I get so wrapped up in tuning in to these things that always change like the waves… that I lose touch with the thing that doesn’t.
Let’s shift the focus to you and see if that helps:
What has always been true about you? Yes, change has always been… I get it…
But what besides that?
Try answering this fill in the blank question:
From my oldest memories – for as long as I can remember, I have been _____________).
Let me ask it again. Pretend I’m your inner voice… ready? “For as long as I can remember, I have been ______________).
What comes there? What happens in that blank? Do you know instantly? Great. Hold on to that for a moment.
If you need to go back and listen or read it again, do that now. If you don’t exactly know, that’s okay… maybe what you have is more just a feeling or it’s on the tip of your tongue but you can’t quite name it.
If this is you, I encourage you to just sit with this question for as long as it takes. No stress. Just make friends with the question and bring it along with you as you live your life.
Whether you have an answer, or the answer is actually another question, I wonder if you might find some comfort there?
What if you learned that the secret to surfing isn’t in moving around until you find the perfect wave—what if the secret was instead, knowing your own body and the way YOU like to move with the water? What if the secret to perfection isn’t in finding it somewhere else and moving toward it…what if the secret was in recognizing the perfection already inherent in you and getting to know it?
Since this seems to have taken a turn towards Zen, I want to offer you a Leonard Cohen quote. If you don’t know who Leonard Cohen is, you should meet his work. He’s part Shakespeare, part Kanye West, part Hemingway.
“If you don’t become the ocean, you’ll be seasick every day.”
Do you feel seasick sometimes in life?
Stop chasing everything that changes and remember there is a part of you which never has and never will.
What does that part need?
Or put another way…
Ask yourself “Who are you?” and just sit down with a drink and see what you answer.
Maybe do that when no one’s looking. Or… if not, send me the video.