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“Working with Joanne and Laura has been transformational at many levels of my life. Through their Integral Coaching® training, I have come to understand what “being human” means.”
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Tiptoeing Safely Toward Death
I was resting after a set of 150 pound leg presses when George asked me if I had ever heard the expression, "tiptoeing my way safely toward death." I hadn't. My response was, "No way for me, George. I'm going out in a full blaze to the end." He laughed and responded, "Me too." I was pumped up and filled with endorphins gone wild. George was kicking my ass as he always does when I show up for my weekly work-out. I don't leave the house saying, "I'm going to see George." I leave the house saying, "I'm going to get my ass kicked." Laura yells back, "Have a good time. Say hi to George for me." As I caught my breath, keeping him talking was a good strategy; I wouldn't have to do another set until we had left this topic. I knew squats were next and I was stalling.
Amidst my trembling quadriceps and sore gluteus maximus, we shared stories. Many of my clients (and George's) speak about their lives using words that closely approximate the tiptoe phrase. Our clients, who in their twenties and thirties would speak of full lives, fully lived, fully alive were now middle- aged and wondering what the hell happened between then and now. Career and mortgage and spouse and children and then pension being so close and golden handshake so valuable, "it's not that bad" being so near and before you know it, you're deciding to stay for ten more years because the pension will be good. Then you drink more and watch tv more and soothe yourself more in a myriad of ways that only your spouse understands. It is a slippery slope that leads to tiptoeing and not the Tiny Tim kind through the tulips.
I left pension-land before it hooked me and so I am not fully aware of that terrain. But death is familiar to us all. We all know that we won't be on our deathbeds wishing we had worked more hours.
I think that as human beings we aspire to something more. We aspire to a potential that we hold as uniquely ours, our form, our particular AQAL Constellation. We have a one and only thumbprint and scars on our bodies from childhood and distinctive dental records and there is some part of us that longs to discover and then live out our particular unique-ness. And while we head into work each day, into our unique cubicle, our thumbprint seems somehow ignored. So, we hang up our preferred pictures of family members or pets or parents. Our walls and desktops become the place where we show what matters. That most important part of our office over in the corner by the window where we have framed pictures that our kids drew for us at age six. A beaded bracelet made by a beloved second grader. A miniature orange tree that produces real fruit. A blue ribbon stating World's Best Dad. And these mementos are tucked away, not broadcast, just silently sitting there. It is in code so only we can really know what it means. Family. Love. Friendship. Connection. This is why I do this. This is why I work so hard. A reminder that is unique and common to us all.
I don't know what it would be like if we all had the means to follow our dreams. If we were each give a million dollars and told, "Go. Do something that you have been longing to do." What would we do? Would we blow it all on new cars, houses, planes, and jewellery? And then find some job that made us miserable again. Or would we sink into the terror of actually doing that which we have avoided doing our whole lives? Write that play. Work at that shelter. Become a stock broker. Join the circus. Open a coffee house. Trim trees. Help people find the right shoe size. Work at a hardware store.
What would it be?
Maybe if we all had the chance to pick what we wanted, we would end up swapping jobs and finding bliss. Maybe all the same jobs would be filled but everyone would be so thrilled to get up in the morning.
On the off chance that you can do what your heart has been screaming at you to do since the moment that you could remember silent screaming, I say, go do it. Don't tiptoe safely. Don't tiptoe at all. Step fully. Step on things if you have to. Fall down if you need to. But do it.
You have not grown old.
It is not too late.
© Joanne Hunt
You See, I Want A Lot
by Rainer Maria Rilke
You see, I want a lot.
Perhaps I want everything:
the darkness that comes with every infinite fall
and the shivering blaze of every step up.
So many live on and want nothing,
and are raised to the rank of prince
by the slippery ease of their light judgements.
But what you love to see are faces
that do work and feel thirst.
You love most of all those who need you
as they need a crowbar or a hoe.
You have not grown old, and it is not too late
to dive into your increasing depths
where life calmly gives out its own secret.