Wednesday, September 3, 2014

9/4/14—Making The Big Move

OK. I hope you all still respect me when I'm done saying what I'm about to say. 

I've been watching Big Brother this year. I actually have a very long and checkered history with this show. For those of you who don't know, Big Brother is a show where a bunch of people are locked in a house all summer and they vote each other out, one by one. 

It makes me shudder to say this show has been on for 16 years. I shudder, because I was there for the very first show. Back then, I even watched online. They have cameras all over the house and you can watch 24/7 online. I did that for a few years, I think. And chatted about it on message boards. But online communities were significantly uglier and nastier back in those days, so I gave up...on the show, on online communities, and on reality shows in general. 

So for many years, the internet was only about doing research and work for me. That's it. Then, a little over five years ago or so, I reluctantly joined Facebook at the urging of my brother. And the last couple of years I've peeked in on Big Brother from time to time. But this year I've watched all the way through. But all of that is just background, because the truth is, I have a love/hate relationship with this show. And, in some ways, that's part of the experiment. 

See, Big Brother started out as a kind of sociological experiment. What would happen if you lock a dozen or more people in a house all summer—with no contact from the outside world—film them 24/7 and put them under constant pressure of being voted out of the game? Well, spoiler alert, a lot of boredom happens...haha. A lot of paranoia. And a lot of people selling their integrity for what it, perhaps, the crappiest prize in all of reality television. The winner only gets $500K. That's half of what contestants earn on Survivor or the Amazing Race and these guys are in the house 97 days (vs the 39 of Survivor). 

Another thing that happens is constant talk about "The Big Move". The big move is when you put up a player who dominates or is threatening or is part of your alliance for eviction. Every year there is a lot of talk about the big move. Everyone wants to make it. And, ultimately, it rarely ever happens except when the options are so few that you have no choice. 

Think about that for a second. Isn't that how we approach the big moves in our own lives a lot of the time? I know it's true for me. Over the years you guys have heard me talk about making big moves and some of them I've made without thinking. I started teaching tarot and reading professionally. I wrote my first book and got it published. But then other ones—writing another book and making changes in my career—seem to be waiting until they're one of the few options I have left. 

What often happens on these reality shows is that people put off the big move for so long that it ends up costing them the game. It's infuriating as a fan, because the "big move" often means the underdog you're rooting for will get another chance. But because the big move is never made, the game ends for your favorite player and, often, for the person who didn't make the big move. While real life isn't always so final, it can also have the same results. Someone comes out with "your" idea before you do. You wait too long to take serious measures to improve your health. You stay too long in an abusive relationship and end up mentally or physically devastated. 

The older I get, the more aware I am that there will never be a "right time to make a big move". Sure, some times are better than others, but if we wait for the right time, we could wait forever. There is no way to avoid the pain and difficulty of change, no matter how long you wait. 

Which isn't to say I'm on the verge of making a big move. For the first time in years, I can confidently say I'm not. But I do think I now know why I've been waiting and have a clear progression in mind about what has to happen first. My problem has always been that I try to take on too much at once, thereby stressing myself out of any chance of making progress. It's self-defeating. So I'm not even looking at big moves right now. But I admit I wonder each night as I drift off to sleep if I'll ever make them. 

Big moves, I think, are important to our lives. They're what keep us moving forward. Imagine what life would be if we ran out of aspirations to follow and leaps to take. There seems to a certain friction point we need to achieve with our big moves. We can't just envision them without pursuing them or we'll end up disappointed in ourselves and feeling defeated by life. But if we just knock them down one after the other, never giving them time to develop and tempt us, then that's like eating chocolate without even tasting it. What's the point?

I think I'm ready to make peace with my big moves, which is a big move in and of itself. While the pressure of big moves bearing down on us can propel us forward, it can also paralyze us. My big, big move, which affects my body, career, home—everything—is really just a series of smaller moves. I feel confident that, one day, the big move will be made, because I feel it's part of my purpose here on earth and I knew from a young age what that was and have been working on it all my life. In some aspects, I'm very ready. But in other ways I don't yet have what I need. Right now I have to be right with myself. I need to feel better physically. I need to reduce stress. And I need to stop dogging myself about the big move! Then when I get the energy back to face what's waiting beyond the edge of the precipice, I'll leap. 

So, spoiler alert, tonight I'll watch yet another opportunity for a big move to made in the Big Brother house. And tomorrow I'll get to see what, if any, repercussions come of it. But instead of being angry and frustrated about all this talk of big moves that never get made, I'll see myself. Ultimately that's what we're always seeing when we look outside of us and get angry and frustrated with "them", whoever they happen to be anyway. 

And for the ultimate spoiler alert, I'll say this. Sometimes we get so caught up in achieving the next thing, crossing the next item off our lists or caring who's watching us succeed or fail that we don't allow ourselves to simply be and enjoy the experience. I beat myself up way too much over items of ambition. The big spoiler is that everything ends up the way it's supposed to whether we kill ourselves making it happen or not. We simply cannot do this thing wrong. Life is a win-win situation if we allow it to be. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

9/2/14—Hearing The Signs

WARNING: I've had the same song stuck in my head for days now! And I will reveal the song below!

It all started a month ago. In Virginia, your car has to go though two inspections every year. One is a safety test to make sure your brake lights are working and your tires have tread and whatnot. I've failed that one in the past for everything from bad windshield wipers to bad brake pads. Then the other test is the emissions test, which basically ensures we suffocate the human race with CO2 at the slowest rate possible. You can take both tests at the same time, but sometimes, if you fail one or the other, the tests will be offset by a month or so, doubling your joy.

And so it was that last July as my PT Cruiser took its safety exam, I tried to get the two tests in sync and asked the guy to give me both. But I had a check engine light on in my car (anyone who owns a PT Cruiser knows that it comes rolling off the shop floor with the light on) and he said he couldn't inspect it until I got the issue causing the check engine light fixed. But the good news was that I had a month to figure it out.

So anyway, I wait until the last minute to get the car fixed. And, in the spirit of emissions, I take public transportation back and forth to the auto repair shop. And then when I get my car, my mechanic tells me I have to drive at least 45 miles without stopping in order to even take the test. Now, I live in Washington, DC. There's nowhere you can drive for 45 miles at 10am without stopping. It's just not possible. So I try. I get about 20 miles before I hit a backup. But I figure you don't have to be religious about this, so I carry on. By the time I get to the emissions checking station, I've clocked 43 miles. Close enough.

I fail.

So my emissions guy tells me to drive it even more (because, apparently, it takes some driving around on the fixed system before all the sensors in the car catch on.) Now, to set the scene for this, I've had a very busy month at work. I worked the entire weekend before so I could take this day off to do all this crap. In the end, I ended up driving 75 miles over the course of three hours and sat in line at the emissions station twice. So I'm freaking out. If I don't pass now, what am I going to do? I've just paid $300 to have a valve replaced so I can even take this test! So I'm stressed from work, stressed from traffic, stressed from auto repair and stressed from these damned tests.

While I was still out driving, I asked for a sign as to whether or not the car was going to pass and I some lame song, like Barry Manilow's "Looks Like We Made It" comes up on the radio (I can't remember the real song, but that's close enough.) Now, I don't want to be a snob about signs, but I didn't feel like this was a DEFINITIVE sign. It held me over in the moment, but definitive? So I make my way to the testing station, get in line, ask for another sign and, while I'm texting my sister a play-by-play of my day because, god bless her, she has little else to live for*, another song comes on the radio—Bob Marley's "Don't Worry About A Thing" (because every little thing's going to be all right.) Now THAT is is a definitive sign. And every little thing turned out to be all right.

There are plenty of people who will say it's just a coincidence. But I don't believe that for a minute. Both songs came in direct response to a request. And they could have come in other forms...a license plate in front of me or some other natural sign, like an animal crossing the road without getting hit, an overwhelming feeling of peace. Whatever. But they came in the form of songs with a message this time.

There are also those who say you shouldn't ask for frivolous things like this. I disagree again. Why would our spirits and guides and messengers do it over and over again if it was beneath them? They're not our slaves. They're happy to help us when they can. We can't apply earthly judgments and characteristics to non-earthly things. In fact, I think they're less likely to help us with things that would change our trajectory or our mission here—big things—than little things like emissions exams, which don't matter to anyone but me.

So long story short—we have these resources available to us. And today's post is a reminder of that. But we do have to ask. And then we have listen and observe to catch the sign they're sending us. And then, more than anything, we have to trust. There is a gentle hand there to guide us every day and all we have to do is believe.

*Just kidding. My texting did make her day, but for other reasons. Not because I was boring her with my travails. :)