Before my wife and I had met, she was involved in a show-choir called, “Beginnings.” I wasn’t. I wasn’t the “Show-Choir” type. However, back in high school, I would pass by the choir room and look into the room with wide eyes, as a kid would spy behind a magician’s curtain. “How did they make music in there?” I’d say in my best Tommy Chong. I loved music, but I always figured it was made by people who were…different. Though true, within that is an undertow of insecurities that kept me from ever trying anything musical. Ten years later, I was at a local community college, taking some classes I hated but figured were required to be successful and mature. The classes were on business and management. From my perspective, the classes were a barren desert of incomprehensible perspectives, unfamiliar languages and attitudes that gave no hope or solace of my capacity to understand them.
I took both classes on Tuesday and Thursdays to save a trip, but in the hour and a half, I would wander over to the music building. It was like walking into another country! Though clean, it was generally more lived in, kind of like the cleaning crew was a bit nervous about staying around too long. Though still formidable it came with a more laid back kind of vibe that enveloped you the moment you left the other classrooms of the college behind. In this one building alone, was the seat of learning for music, art, theater, religion, philosophy and if you looked carefully down the less traveled hallways, you might find alchemy and phrenology. The entire building reeked with a Bohemian atmosphere and yet still demanded discipline. I would tread the hallways quietly, I looked quite unseemly in a shirt and tie I wore to my business classes to impress the teacher. Echoes of still vibrating bassoon lessons rolled over the green and purple carpet, the theater professor had a tea set mounted on the ceiling! The music theory teacher had Persian rugs on the floor and walls of his office while another had a small footpath through stacks of student papers from the door to his desk from over 28 years of teaching. I loved it, but at my advanced age of 25, I was just too old to restart.
I’m over twice that age now and I’ve had more than one restart since then. And why not? Some would say I was a drifting, undisciplined dreamer. Vocationally immature. A glorified failure.
- Lesson 1-Who asked you? Okay, if people are not asked for their input, then you have no obligation to take it. Even if you did, it’s just an opinion. They don’t know what the voices in your head say as you go to try to go to sleep at night. They don’t know the science of addiction. They don’t know don’t know why, they don’t know how, they just don’t know.
- Lesson 2-If you are actually learning from your setbacks, they aren’t mistakes. You’ve just discovered other ways to not live your life. If they’re so smart, why are they analyzing your miserable life when they should be making billions with their own perfect one!
- Lesson 3-Never look to others for validation of your own life. It’s passive, it’s weak, and it doesn’t lead to who you really want to be.
Beginnings are a brave way to “get out of the rut and back on the road.” What does it take to begin again? Enough dissatisfaction with your current situation.
“We change our behavior when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing. Consequences give us the pain that motivates us to change.” Henry Cloud. Gee, I wish I’d have said that! I see a lot of patients at the hospital slap away help that is given to them so they can stay the same. Why? Fear. They are just too scared to stick their heads above ground. And you look at these people and they look like a pretty tough lot. Some have tats, angry faces, tough hides that look like they aren’t afraid of anything. They are afraid of quite a bit; they won’t admit it. Our job, let them know they are safe, they can risk it to begin over.
Reading assignment: Chapter 3 of “The Magic of Thinking Big” David J. Schwartz, PH.D.