In the ’90’s Mary J. Blige rocked our collective world with an album somehow, magically, darn-near exclusively made up of songs that had been around for years… And it felt brand-new. I was shocked to find how completely some of the songs mimicked earlier tracks, and how they just remade others around a short clip. But there’s wisdom in holding on to what’s right and turning completely away from what’s, just, not.
That’s my challenge today, and everyday.
Because holding on to what’s right isn’t as simple as seeing something real, reaching for it, grasping it, and keeping your fingers clenched forever. Holding on to what’s right is a lot more like fighting to open your eyes and squint for clear focus, then fighting to drown out the noise surrounding you that tries to convince you what you’re seeing isn’t real, then fighting to silence the noise in your own mind that battles for attention, and then fighting to use that voice to scream loudly to yourself every word of the truth, while keeping your eyes lined up on that right thing, and then…
While all of that continues… Holding on to what’s right is more like commanding your fingers to pry themselves free of the dead weight they’ve conformed to, unclenching the fist locked around the one thing you’ve known, have laid hold of, can feel now. And in that moment when your hands open and control is lost, and nothing belongs to you anymore… Holding on to what’s right is more like commanding yourself to lift. To press.
While your eyes are straining to keep that right thing in sight and your mind struggles to focus while the battle rages around you, press. Lift your arms and extend your fingers toward that right thing and trust it hasn’t slipped away, or been replaced in the confusion.
And when your reach finally aligns with that right thing, your resolve builds. A part of you feels motivated because you’re almost there and even as muscles contract, your fingers close, feeling washed in sweet relief. Suddenly the image wisps away like a vapor.
You have nothing in your hands now, and another right thing winks in distant light.
After all that.
After so much effort, so much battle, at least…
I mean if you can’t lay hold of, and grasp what’s right, at least…
It should make you feel better, right?
Except you feel nothing. Not a void. Just not the vanquished joy of a conquering warrior, not the triumphant jubilation of a victorious overcomer. Not the prideful swell of a celebrated winner, or the admiration of onlookers. Accustomed to shaping your own feelings in the context of others, for a moment it seems you feel nothing at all. When you shift away and look inward, toward the stillness in you, then it comes:Experiencing the loving wash of a smile only you know.
Part of the feeling of absence, is no longer feeling the weight of the shadow of that right thing you were resting near. It had become heavier without any warning.
It had begun to influence you. This wasn’t just a play on light and positional circumstance. As you sat there in the shadow of that right thing, the shadow itself begins to create resistance against seeing clearly, and moving toward anything that isn’t the shadow. Empty promises stacked up like rusty links chaining you to the darkness, whispering: Just rest here. Just a little while longer. It’ll be okay. Just wait and see.
There’s a part of you that knows, even before you begin to reach, that right thing is there, and once you stand for it, the weight will be gone, the shadow has grown heavy, but…
There’s just so much to do to get there.
And this is right here. It feels solid, for now. I wouldn’t have to do anything else, not yet. Just in this moment, it feels like rest. Just breathing feels like a battle. How can I find the fight to do more?
It gets lonely. And that shadow is cold. It leaves your shoulders aching with the weight of an insatiable burden.
This is me.
Inviting you to join me on a journey in transition. It matters less where we’re going and more how we’re getting there. I can promise you we won’t rush.
I don’t have all the answers.
I know the way.