This week I’m headed back to Virginia for my friend, Peggy Guy’s wedding to the wonderful Joe and it’s my first visit in two years. There was a lot of life in the past two years that sped by and before I knew it a chunk of time had passed. Thank goodness for the bigger moments in life or it’d be way too easy to keep moving forward without taking some time to stop and celebrate.
That was one of my bad habits in the past.
I sped by a lot of great moments because I was so worried about what was coming next. All of life for me was a series of mileposts surrounded by potholes. However, each milepost like a new book coming out or running a marathon, didn’t give me the permanent happiness I was looking for and so no matter how great the achievement, some small piece of me felt like a failure.
I thought that happiness came from finally doing something big enough to feel happy about for a long enough time. When my achievements failed I went in search of being present at other people’s achievements like a happiness vampire and tried to celebrate with them as if my state of being depended on it. That meant I wasn’t really present at any of the festivities because I was too busy thinking about me.
My own success didn’t fare much better. I remember the high I got after becoming a national columnist. At last, I was at the top of my profession and had done something difficult even in the middle of the Great Recession.
The feeling lasted for a solid two weeks but then slowly evaporated, like it was supposed to so I’d get back to life. But I didn’t completely get that life wasn’t about me getting what I wanted so that I could feel better. There was this constant thought that was strangling me that whispered, if you don’t worry about it who will?
It wasn’t until I discovered on a more personal level that God really loved me that I was able to let go of the idea that there was something to prove and was able to relax. A good friend gave me some advice that I’m grateful I took. She said to test God and stop trying to do it all. See what God can do, He can take it. For a doer like me it was bold advice.
A fan once came to a book signing and saw a sign I’d made of recent accomplishments and made the offhand remark, “You’ve done enough, you can rest now.”
Fortunately, I finally worn myself out enough that I was willing to try and take a big, hairy contrary action. I stopped doing and started observing more, which included a lot less talking or questioning or pointing out to others. I became the observer.
No one died, no one took some tragic wrong turn in their life without my words of wisdom and that includes my son, Louie.
There was this gap, though where the old ways of doing things were actually leaving and the new hadn’t quite entered yet and the fear was up around my hairline but I kept to my word and let God have the reins. I wanted to know if He was there more than I wanted to try and save myself. My way wasn’t working at all.
In each turn in the road whether it was cancer or money or a relationship or a big move everything unfolded beautifully. There were big hiccups along the way but I wonder if the reason I look back and see so much good is because I finally got that lesson.
Don’t sweat the small stuff, just enjoy them.
Q: Are you enjoying your life? Tell me about it.