What Do You Do When You’re Down?

Depressed“If you had just a minute to breathe and they granted you one final wish, would you ask for something like another chance?” –Traffic


Life is a journey with many twists and turns, switchbacks and cliffs. And even though we can intellectualize that there will be ups and downs, why is the idea of falling or failing (as some people see it) so terrifying?

Because of competition we internalize being “right,” doing things “right” as the basis of our self worth, and the very reason why anyone else would want to be with us. But to be perfectly right and do everything perfectly right means we don’t take any real risks or chances. Then there we are, toiling away at a ho-hum existence, wondering what the hell it’s all for?

As I inched closer to my late twenties I found that all the parties, work, money and vacations in the world did little to mask a very sickly feeling I couldn’t shake. It was the feeling of regret. I wasn’t even thirty and I already had regrets! Yikes! I had regret for not being true to myself and living the life that felt good for me. For years I unconsciously kept the charade of my perfect-looking life going, even to myself, and wondered why I felt dead inside, unable to see my creations were based on what I thought everyone else expected of me.

And then – because sooner or later the chickens always come home to roost – I fell far from the image of perfection I’d gotten used to portraying, and a most surprising thing happened – I landed on my feet.

Ok, I hit the ground hard and bounced a few times, before I landed on my feet. But it was then that I realized one of life’s universal truths. It doesn’t matter how many times you fall; it matters what you do when you’re down.

The single thing that allowed me to land on my feet was the willingness to change. The very definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. It was the willingness to let go of being “right” and “perfect” which opened me up to one of the planet’s most secret treasures – ART. I shudder sometimes remembering LBA: Life Before Art. It was a dark place, mucked up with fear, competition and apathy. If you’ve been following along for awhile, you know I didn’t believe myself to have one single creative bone in my entire body for the first 31 years of my life. But, as I bounced, I discovered not feeling creative stems from, really, really wanting to be perfect and right. The truth is creativity is an innate human quality. It is a flow of energy that courses through our bodies and needs to be expressed. When we aren’t expressing we literally don’t feel like were enough, and attempt to fill ourselves up with more stuff: more work, more lovers, more clothes, more money, and so on.

Whereas in the throws of inspiration I’ve found there is no place I’d rather be and there’s nothing I’m lacking. To express creatively means getting comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. If you can suspend your judgment and give yourself permission to be the beginner, it’s the place where your life begins. Life gets exciting when we take chances because it’s there in that vulnerable moment and the triumph over that discomfort where we expand our vision of self. It’s the place where we grow, come alive and feel inspired! It’s the place where we want to shout “Yes! This is who I am and why I’m here!”

I’d be fooling myself if I thought my path didn’t have many more impending twists and turns, and cliffs and switchbacks on the horizon, and I do get scared sometimes. But being scared and doing it anyway is my best understanding of courage. And I take comfort in knowing as long as I have the ability to evolve, adapt and be the beginner I’ll continue to land on my feet.

Are you in mid-fall? Bounce? Or have you landed for the moment?