We often reach a point in our existence when we feel we have more gifts to share that have, as of yet, gone unexplored, or that there is something we suddenly discover a passion for doing. With it comes a sense of urgency to answer the call right now, as we see that we’re approaching that milestone, or have long ago passed it, when there are less miles in front of us than there are behind. “If not now, when?” we hear whispering to us from the leaves rustling in the breeze.
Ignoring it, we may go back to our business-as-usual life, taking care of all of the responsibilities we believe are what we’re supposed to. That feeling of something missing, an important package unopened, a gift that was lost in the to-do list, continues to gnaw at us. The whispering grows to screams, if we’re lucky enough, so that we actually stop and pay attention to what it’s saying, sometimes awakened in the darkest hours, gasping for air.
For those of us who answer that call, I can tell you from my own experience, it’s not glamorous. Life doesn’t stand still for us to do our “thing.” But, amidst the daily grind, the incredible ups and the devastating lows, keeping my eye on my passion, squeezing in the moments to respond, I found renewed energy, vitality, zest for life.
Along the path of following our passion, we all will, without a doubt, encounter those who find our renewed passion as being selfish, self-absorbed, and annoying. Some might actually criticize us and call us rude for reaching out and asking for help from friends or total strangers to support us in creating our dream. This always catches me off guard each and every time.
Just recently, the very next morning after receiving one such criticism from a social media networking connection the night before, I received an e-mail from Daishin Mark Nelson, a Buddhist priest and Spiritual Leader of Sweeping Heart Zen in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Nelson’s e-mail reminded me of something that I needed to hear at that very moment because I was really thrown off kilter by one negative response, in spite of all of the positive responses of encouragement that I had received. “Thank you for writing 9 Ways To Be Good To Yourself — — Starting Today,” he wrote. “Since I am fully convinced from my own life and practice that, as Dr Rick Hanson points out, our brains are like ‘Velcro for the negative and like Teflon for the positive,’ we in general must be emphatically proactive about emphasizing the good in life and in our selves. And as you point out, we have to notice, practice, and celebrate the good, otherwise it’s extremely difficult to for us to stay in touch with, never mind grow, the good, the wholesome, and the beneficial in ourselves and the world.” This was exactly what I needed to hear in order to get back on track and to practice my favorite revenge for critics, dedicating myself even more to success and allowing the criticisms to be like the irritating sand that inspires an oyster to create a precious pearl.
Thankfully, there will be those who embrace our enthusiasm and passion, such as the good Daishin Nelson and countless others have done for me, sharing in the joy, feeling inspired by it, and often offering more help than we have even asked for. Some might ask for our help later with their own dreams that we might have awakened in them. These are our tribe. They are the ones who understand and also hear the call. These are the people who will lighten our load and hold out a lantern for us when the path grows dark.
Sometimes, surprisingly, the critics may become inspired to join our tribe. Welcome them with open arms. Their negativity really had nothing to do with us. They were just trying to shut out the shouting of their own calling, fearful of what changes it might bring if they were to pay attention. Besides, look at the beautiful pearls they inspired us to create.
Keep trekking, stay on the path, and remember to reach out a hand to give support to those around you on their own journeys. The rewards will be priceless.
Check out Dr. Mara’s internationally best-selling book, The Passionate Life: Creating Vitality & Joy at Any Age, now available in paperback and on e-book!
Stay tuned for Dr. Mara’s on-line course, Living the Passionate Life, coming this fall!
And check out: DrMaraKarpel.com, a one-stop-shop for information about all of the above!
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