We live in a society where only “big splashy success” is acknowledged. We don’t care about the small steps, discoveries, or earnest stumbles. Yet it takes outrageous courage to be in the middle of your journey. The middle is where it’s at, baby.
Maybe you’re growing a new business, writing the book of your dreams, or healing from a necessary divorce. These are the times when alligators nip at your raw feet, the rain keeps beating down, the moon is fading, your mother calls with twenty questions and a monologue, and you fear that you may age in poverty with hopes that never came true. Yep, these are the moments that need celebration.
These are the times we need applause and ribbons and massive hot fudge sundaes and witnesses to our magnificence. These are the times we must love ourselves through the hunger and exhaustion. These are the times when we must celebrate our courage, the power, belief, and stubborn pluck it demands to just keep lurching and wobbling forward.
Please give yourself the benefit of true perspective. Do not reject yourself for “not being there yet,” wherever that great “there” is for you. You are on the path. You are on the path. You are on the path. The path begins wherever you are, when you embrace your life with honesty, patience, and compassion.
Don’t join that dismal bandwagon of thieves, those silly addle-brained fools in the streets who only believe in the gods of People magazine, or the ones who believe that it’s more successful to just tack things together than to be naked on the path of pursuing your truth. Don’t accept the measurements of those who uphold flawed and obsolete standards. Do not borrow knowledge from the ones who do not dare. The ones who dare—absolutely know the pain of being in the middle of things. If you’re life is unsettled, imperfect, unpredictable, wild at the core, stuck, or yet to “come together,” congratulations. You’re one of the awakening tribe. You’re in the stream of being holy alive.
I spent 12 plus years writing my first book This Time I Dance! Creating the Work You Love, without an agent, publisher, or writing mentor in sight. I spent years feeling bad because I wasn’t done with it. I watched others whiz by in their perfect neat lives, crisp definitions, and big fat paychecks and I felt foolish, foolish because I was in the middle of things. I faced self-doubt every day, but I chose self-love in the end. I decided to stay true to myself even if that looked as though I would walk for years through the deep blue sea. I wanted to follow my own instincts, hold my own hand, and see where that led me in the end. It’s led me here, a time in my life where I am so unbelievably grateful for all those essential “middle moments,” all those experiences that shaped me, fed me, grew me, and made me what I am—and what I have always been meant to be. In This Time I Dance!, I said, “It takes a hero’s journey to create a hero,” and I’ll say it again. Those middle moments are our ashrams, boot camps, graduate schools, and launch pads. They are anything but useless, empty, or ordinary.
The middle of things is where change takes place, where the great big barge of how things have always been turns around in the ocean and goes a new way. It’s slower than a long red light, but it doesn’t take place forever.
The real heroes are in the middle of things, sweating in the middle of the night alone, doubting the future, crying the tears of self-doubt, burning holes in the ground with their mad desire to flee. Celebrate these ones, the ones who are making choices right now that others will not see. Celebrate these ones who dare to make uncelebrated choices. Celebrate yourself, right now as though you are the biggest winner of all time, because you are dear one, you are. You are sticking with the wonderful and terrible confusion of creating an authentic life.
Bestselling author Pema Chodron, a beloved Buddhist nun, says, “To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. To live fully is to be always in no-man’s-land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh. To live is to be willing to die over and over again.” And Deepak Chopra, tells us to look at times of process as “pure potentiality.” I think “pure potentiality” sounds like a destination spa resort, and so much zestier than a “big fat zero,” or “swamp.” I suggest you try on language like that that empowers you. Remember, those “pure potentiality” times are when we make our life’s most significant choices. It’s where we craft, envision, and realize our future.
This month I’d love you to truly celebrate the experience of being in the middle of things. Write yourself a letter of congratulations or buy yourself a small token of appreciation at this juncture, a totem of support. While you’re at it, celebrate someone else who is in the middle of their evolving lives as well. We all know someone in the thick of a break up, a layoff, an illness, or someone who had their manuscript rejected or their contract cancelled, someone whose circumstances are pushing them to a new and uncomfortable edge of being.
Let’s clap for all the winners, now, the winners who are on their way, the winners who are not yet recognized, the winners who are walking through the desert, the winners who are allowing themselves to win at last, and those who are even boldly allowing themselves to “lose,” because they know they will never lose by staying true to their souls.
I want you to know that I celebrate you all in my heart. I am so moved by your dogged steps forward, your hungry self-inquiry, your shaky new belief in possibilities and your emerging commitment to your own inspired life. You are the brave ones, the alive ones, the ones who deserve medals right now.