I had three people tell me last week that because I remind them to play (by both my words and actions), their lives are now filled with so much more joy. They are now deeply conscious of taking time for themselves, are seeking magic in the everyday, and are turning down the volume of the purpose-driven drum beat that has always made them feel the need constantly be doing rather than being.
They are slowing their pace to appreciate the beauty of the shadows, lines, and colors all around them. They are finding the extraordinary in the simple. And they are feeling at home in their own skin for the first time since they were a kid.
Guess how happy hearing this makes me?! WOW!!!
My happiness, though, is tempered with a profound realization.
Years ago, when my nephew first learned English, one of his favorite words was the word irony. My sister is a huge fan of ironic humor and sarcasm, so it was completely charming to me that that was the word he fell in love with early on. He’d run through the house yelling, apropos of nothing, “Oh, the irony!!!”
So, with a nod to my sweet nephew, when I hear stories from friends and clients of their new-found liberation, I have to say, “Oh, the irony!!!”
You see, the fact that I am encouraging others to find their own states filled with an “incredible lightness of being” is both wonderful and supremely ironic. As far as I have come on this journey to let go and simply be, I still fall prey to old habits and ways of thinking.
I was reminded of my beginner’s status yesterday while on a video conference. I was chatting with one of the organizers of the leadership retreat I am attending in Ireland this summer. I had asked if we could find a way to communicate with everyone in the group before we physically meet. I elaborated that it would be really fun to begin getting to know each other ahead of time, learn about what everyone is working on, blah blah blah.
The woman smiled and said how much she appreciated my question and request. They have had similar requests before, she noted, but have opted not to connect people ahead of the retreat.
“We think having everyone meet for the first time in the castle as complete strangers gives a unique depth to the experience,” she said. “The not knowing is an important element.”
It felt like a cartoon image of a clown’s hammer had come through my laptop screen and bonked me on the head.
All at once, I knew those old habits of mine had reared their controlling heads. I knew immediately that my request was born out of a desire to somehow control the knowing — control how I would experience being in a very foreign setting with people from around the world — ahead of time.
The retreat is designed to be an unfolding. An adventure with global leaders doing extraordinary work who are desiring to build their own capacity to lead in brand new ways. A vision quest in a stunning, Irish landscape. A sweet discovery of the senses, soul, heart, and consciousness. All of which were what drew me to it in the first place.
My request was an attempt to shape the experience into something familiar.
“Oh, the irony!!!”
It occurs to me that letting go is on the other side of being afraid. That exhaling out and breathing the world in deeply happens when we uncurl our fists, and let our agenda slip through our fingers to the floor. That playfulness, curiosity, wonderment, and joy sit patiently at our feet like a loyal pup, looking for the tiniest signal we are ready to put down our tasks and go for a walk.
It’s all there for us if we just let it be.