“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
Just after Christmas my friend Dawn sent me a curious email. She asked me what excites me in my life.
My first response was a bleak “nothing”. But I realized that this is my usual knee-jerk answer to what I see as a tiresome life with nothing much in it. 2013 was a good year on some levels and other aspects were horrible.
I spent a few days thinking about the question. It wasn’t easy work. I think for many of us we don’t often look at what enlivens us. Worry and fear, poverty and lack raise their ugly heads and obliterate joy and the sense that we can really be more than simply drones, slogging our way day after day. I spent time walking and thinking and asking myself the question and I found the answer.
Exciting people excites me. What I love to do is to be in front of people and get them thinking – looking at the world and their lives in different ways (and having fun while they’re doing it). For me, when I can encourage people to see potential and possibility, I myself am able to see the same things. Whether it’s facilitating workshops, or public speaking, my joy and the real heart of who I am as a person is found in that place where ideas are exchanged like brilliant fireworks.
I stop slogging and participate in life.
What to do with this? I decided that if I want to be that motivational speaker, I have to get into the circuit. And so I put together a brief resume and cover letter and sent it to a local speakers’ bureau. I fully expected to be turned down, but I was surprised. I explained that inasmuch as I’m not a politician or Hollywood star or that I have haven’t climbed Mount Everest or crossed a desert and that I have something to offer. I’m not a guru and I’m not Tony Robbins – I don’t believe I can offer anyone the answer to how to change their life. All I am is a 52 year old gay man living with HIV who has experienced a great many things and I’ve learned to observe and reflect.
The email I got back was amazing! The woman wants to meet with me. She was intrigued. There was something that got her thinking (and apparently she’s not impressed by a lot of politicians).
Here then, is the beginning of my new adventure. I don’t have a clue where it’s going: life is guess work at best, but I’m starting something important for me.
As people living with HIV, I think many of us (me included) can become so mired in what we see as impossible that we don’t often see the potential for each of us to do amazing things. The challenges of living with medications and possible disease may keep us from exploring the very things that would bring us a more healthy and vibrant life. To some extent I think that everyone lives with the idea that we’re “not good enough”, or talentless imposters – and that’s not true. We have the capacity to shift from one head space to another, but we have to ask ourselves that very simple question “what excites us in our lives?”
Then we have to put one foot forward and find a way do it. The path isn’t clear, and there’s no real map to get there, but once we discover the heart of who we are and the things that bring us joy, we’re already half-way there.