I hung out on the lux side of life. But I lived on the proverbial wrong side of the tracks.
It was the ‘wrong’ side for the obvious reasons. Life was tougher, and it was a whole lot rougher. All the same, I wanted for nothing and mostly, it was a good life.
For me though, it’s ‘wrongness’ came from the fact that family and family friends didn’t visit. There are definitely a few exceptions, but for the rest, no-one visited.
Sometimes, when people visited, mostly to bring something, they’d stay in the car and my folks would go out to car to greet them. I’d be dragged out to do the same. Ill-mannered as I was, my contempt would whip off my tongue and hang around my eyes. My snarl was a language all on its own. There were times when we would be graced with a visit. I recall vividly two of my dearest uncles standing with me in our yard admonishing me to get us out of the area. It wasn’t good for us. I was in standard 8.
I interpreted all of these countless micro experiences as a rejection; a very palpable exclusion. A potent emotion that stoked me as a child and as a young adult, and in many ways continues to do so.
All the while, my parents held family in high esteem and honouring family was a practiced tradition. Weekends and very often evenings were spent visiting with family, and family friends. We’d trek through the dark in my dad’s battered skedonk to observe the traditions that made us, us. More often than not, these visits would be to a more graceful part of my world. Places where things were less tough and definitely less rough; and what I then thought of as grandeur and splendour.
Often, these were love-hate pilgrimages. Hate, because to my child’s mind we had to make these treks because they thought they were better than us. Because they had what I did not.
Love because I would escape in those lux worlds. I would sneak off and find a quiet space and take flight to the worlds of my imagination. In those worlds, the beautiful, spacious rooms would become my lovely abodes; my normal; my everyday reality. I could see myself living each and every aspect of my life in those spaces and I could configure and reconfigure parts of different homes to suit my flights of fantasy. It was so vivid and so real that each configuration had its own atmosphere, smells, sounds, colours, flavours, occasions and conversations. Each reality was so real, that I now experience them as fond memories. Even today, they are places I go to in my mind where I can recover from a brutal day, convalesce my mind and rejuvenate my soul. That is how real those imaginings of mine were.
That was my late teens.
Then, as I slipped from my mid-twenties, that was my reality. Some studying, mad connections, strange coincidences, hard knocks and extraordinary opportunities dressed up like hard work saw me achieving and exceeding all that I had dreamed of. I even snagged the guy I was hanging out with in my mind’s eye. How crazy is that!!!
It was a potent combination of imagination, action, emotion and determination. It was knowing what I did not want and knowing what I did want. It was a ritual of basking in the shock and in the astonishment and the praise that would escape from my elders as I made my way to a more ‘appropriate’ address.
It was keeping in focus what I yearned for, side-stepping distractions, by-passing detractions and getting up when I fell along the way. In hindsight I see the path clearly, but as I walked it, I walked in faith, blind to any destination other than the one I dwelled in with such regularity and ease.
The thing is, that since then, each and every success I’ve had, I’ve seen and practiced in my mind’s eye long before achieving it. The ‘how’ emerges through some fantastical concoction of effort on my part and the universe conspiring me and nudging me in the path of my hopes and aspirations. It’s never easy and somehow in retrospect, the conclusions I am brought to seem self-evident.
Besides holding a clear vision for myself in mind, I’ve learnt a few things and I’d like to share these with you.
- The hard-knocks are not only part of the path. They are a crazy course correction system brought to you and for you. On the path to your objectives, they give you a chance to discover who you really are. They help you to discover and rally resources you never knew you had and they take you from a path that would not serve your best and highest self.
- Your vision does not have to be crystal clear. Although it is important to see what you want with your mind’s eye, you don’t have to know all the details and you definitely don’t need to know how to make it happen. Just engage with it. Clarity comes from engagement.
- If you think your ‘Why’ is something fantastical and intellectual, you are dead wrong. Your mind or your brain is only the tool with which you see what your heart and your soul yearns for. Manage your brain and bring your heart to the table. I know it’s risky, but it is where your propulsion system lives. It’s not the thoughts and ideas that push you forward; it’s the emotions that propel you. Whether it is the point you want to make; or the redemption you seek; or the wrong you want to set right; or the justice you want to claim for yourself; or the belonging and the acceptance you feel incomplete without; or whether it is the love that will set you free; your emotions will carry you far further than your brain ever can.
Vision without emotion is just a fantasy. Your emotions are the turbines that will energise your destiny. You emotions, properly wielded will make the genius in you come to life. Call it passion, call it purpose, call it whatever you like, but for heaven’s sakes get in touch with your emotions. There is something they are desperately trying to connect you with.
- Patience and faith are part of the same stride. Patience without faith is abandonment; and faith without patience will drive you nuts. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Only faith will get you to take the risks, to hold on when all seems bleak and only faith will help you see past the hills that will rise up along your journey.
- Life is serendipitous. If you have faith. Small steps get you to your big dreams. Even when those small steps seem completely unrelated to your goals in the short-term, you will be amused and amazed at the way the dots connect in the long-run.
- Take action; however trivial. Reverse engineer your vision. What are the big goals and what are the small steps you can see? You don’t need clarity when you set out. Clarity will emerge from taking action and from NOTHING else. Keep one foot in front of the other and you can walk a thousand kilometres and more. Stay focused on where you’re headed and more importantly, on why you are heading that way.
- Cut out the comparisons. Comparison is a useless, momentum sapping pastime and will only derail you. The moment you take your focus off your goal, you will journey in the direction of your distractions. Comparison will birth worthlessness, overwhelm, despair and inadequacy; and when they become your focus, you are doomed.
- Life is a marathon and not a race. Things go wrong, people steal your ideas, you get disappointed. Do what you need to do to manage the risks, suffer some losses. Fear is unavoidable. But go in the direction of your dreams, however slowly. Don’t look for reasons to talk yourself out of your dreams. Look for evidence, however small and seemingly insignificant to talk yourself INTO your dreams.
- Invest in yourself. If you don’t grow, you can’t step into that bigger version of yourself that is needed to fulfil your hopes. Discomfort is brief. See through it until your new competences emerge. You won’t regret it.
- Share your hopes and your dreams. Your thoughts are easy to dismiss. Firstly, write them down. As you do, it’s like you’re clearing up RAM in your mind, and you make space for new thoughts and ideas. Then, there are times that writing in and of itself reveals things to you that you were unaware of. I believe firmly, that the answers are within you; you might just have to scratch around a bit to find it, and writing helps with that.
- Also, there is so much advice out there to keep things to yourself. If you need help, how in heaven’s name is anyone going to be able to get that help to you if they don’t know you need it. Share in faith. The help and the support will come. And as you share, a tribe form around you with one subliminal goal…to make your shift happen.
Have a look at the ‘3 questions to for an Extraordinary Life’ worksheet, and if you want help making your hopes and dreams come true, don’t hesitate to get in touch,