“Do you want things to be good and easy?” asked my interlocutor, someone who had inspired me for a long time with her courage. I knew her to be a “strong back, soft front” kind of person, someone who used her own trauma and hardship as fuel for amazing transformation, the kind of which moves mountains. She was offering me a job and I was fighting hard to silence my demons and hear myself, feel the answer to her proposal. The question and the way it was asked (don’t you want things to be good and easy? would have just been judgmental) cracked a door.
For many years I had read about and discussed ideas such as organizational culture, open and authentic communication, beliefs that sunk us and their untangling that allowed us to fly. I had sat around tables where my emotional responses were labeled as “too intense” or “unhinged.” I had started projects that included concepts such as vulnerability, trust, courage, only to get an eye rolling, forced participation at best from the group in front of me.
I had walked into the room where the discussion was to be carried out just slightly stepping back from the brink towards complete cinicism, almost agreeing with my partner that what I wanted and dreamt of professionally was the realm of books and movies. And a voice called out to me on that brink. I looked back and the voice asked: do you want things to be good and easy?
Looking straight into the eyes of the person who was extending a hand to me, looking right back into my eyes and pausing to hear my answer, I felt the automatic grin of a smile coming on and the folder of preprepared answers opening to deliver the “of course I want things to be good and easy, who doesn’t! haha”. But I would not have been honoring her trust in me and her hope of a genuine partnership, her courage and her faith in people. I would have been the exact type of person that had brought me to the brink.
Tears came to my eyes (they seem to do that so much quicker these days) and I said: “No, I don’t think so …,” and with that, took a wider step away from the brink, sat down and took a load off.
In that moment I realized how incredibly conditioned I had been – by my upbringing, the schools I attended, society, friends, work places I had been part of – to consider that it was only hardship that brought value. That things cannot be easy and good. That good work, amazing and meaningful change, only comes at the expense of hardship. How could I allow myself to have it good and easy? Where is my contribution then going to be? If work isn’t hard, how can it be good? And when I do have it easy, what ball did I drop? And if I didn’t drop any ball, doesn’t that mean I did not have enough balls in the air? That I am slacking? And if I have all the balls in the air, and I can manage it, and I am happy, where is the commet that is going to strike me? It must be nearby.
With every step that I take towards my true self I understand that in this lifetime the only ones we have to fight with as much as fight for are precisely ourselves. That it is the voices we carry inside and the indubitability that they impart on the beliefs whispered to our souls that hijack us. Our saving grace is that hot, pulsating and extremely sensitive place inside of us, always welcoming but so hard to reach, the deepest place in our heart where our truth always resides. The door to this nugget of pure us never closes, though sometimes it seems like it does. We just bolt the door with onion-layer-like webs, and the pulsating becomes faint, almost unperceptible. “Keep peeling,” comes a whisper from behind the bolted door, “the closer you get, the more pain you feel, because layers that are closer have been there the longest and they are the hardest to remove. But take the leap, it’s the only thing that is going to make a difference.” Don’t you know? Before anything and anyone, you belong to yourself.
“You are free only when you realize you belong no place – you belong every place – no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.”Dr. Maya Angelou