Now you may be convinced that your life never had any color or passion to begin with. But if it did, can you remember it? Reflect on that, then ask yourself, How much have I let those colors fade? It may have been hard to notice because it happened a little bit at a time; just a bit here and there. Either way, have you gone from a life that was in full living color to one that is nothing more than shades of gray? Ask yourself how long it has been since you were really excited about some meaningful aspect of your life. I'm not talking about getting a new car or a piece of jewelry or a great fishing pole; I'm talking about the passion and excitement of knowing you are fulfilling your purpose and are doing it well. I'm talking about the feeling of confidence that comes from self-trust; the calm assurance that you experience when you know that you have the courage to be who you really are and to be there for yourself when it really counts. It's the kind of courage that will help you stand up for yourself with an abusive mate, when choosing the career you want, or in deciding whether or not to have children. Passion, excitement, and confidence are important medicines that you need every day. And they can come in a form as simple as claiming your right to some joy and fun in life now -- not as some fleeting memory from your past, but now.
Here's a "gotcha": Are you one of those people who sit around and talk about how "crazy and fun" you used to be? Do you reminisce about times gone by, often saying, "Remember when we used to...? "? Do you just accept the fact that the most fun or fulfillment you will ever have is in your past, because now you have responsibilities and bills and kids and whatever else you can think of to rationalize neglecting yourself and what matters to you? Well, let me tell you, if that's how you think, that's just crazy! I went to a college reunion-type deal not long ago and got together with a bunch of my former teammates. Some of them have really gone on to create and live wonderful lives with great wives, families, and careers. Others have been absolutely "stuck" in their memories of the glory days of when we played football. These guys were basking in the fading glow: "Hey Phil, remember the fourth quarter when we blitzed that OU quarterback without a single defensive back left in the secondary? Man, were we crazy gamblers or what?" I respond: "Yeah boy, that was really something, wasn't it." What I'm really thinking is: Hell no, I don't remember that, I've done about nine million things since that one play thirty years ago, and apparently you haven't. And by the way, this glory you're basking in, hotshot, is a bunch of hooey. The truth is we were terrible! In fact, now that I recall the fourth quarter of that game you've been boring your kids with stories about, we were behind about sixty to nothing! God, get over it. You sound like my dad; by the time he got through telling it, he used to walk three miles to school every day through a foot of snow and it was up hill both ways!
The only reason you would want to continue focusing on some fantasized past is if the present you have created is not as good. I don't know about you, but I don't want to be twenty again. Some of the times were good but a whole lot of them weren't. Another thing my dad used to say when he would reminisce about being in the navy or playing college ball was: "I wouldn't take a million dollars for the experience and I wouldn't give you a dime to do it again." That's how I feel about an awful lot of where I've been, although there is some of it I would sell you back "for a dime"!
If the best part of your life is in the past, something is way out of whack. Here's how the deal is supposed to work: As we get older, we are supposed to be more competent, not less. Life is supposed to get better, because we are supposed to be better at it. Attempting to rationalize or justify ignoring yourself and what you truly want and need is BS. I want to put you center stage for a while and talk about getting your self-concept to a place where you won't sell out your wants, dreams, needs, and visions.
Copyright © 2001 by Phillip C. McGraw
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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