M. Scott Peck’s first words in his seminal book “The Road Less Traveled’ are “Life is difficult.” He continues to say that once we accept this fact, living is easier because out expectations are more realistic. We can either look at this statement as a positive or negative, depending on a very important question we must answer: what is the meaning of life and is it worth living? Then, if we want to engage in Sharing Fire® with others, we must make a life defining choice. There is a famous quote from the movie “The Shawshank Redemption” that expresses this profound decision. The two main characters are in prison, facing a depressing existence, and one of them states that the choice they have to make is to decide to either “get busy living or get busy dying.”
I made this journey of decision realized that my life has been filled with one life-changing challenge after another, professionally, personally, physically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. It was clear to me that all of these layers of pain had led me to the point where, unconsciously, I was getting busy dying. I had given up on happiness and joy and had resigned myself to a future that would be nothing more than a reflection of my past. But no longer. I realized that I was only hurting myself and those I cared for and loved and was having no effect at all against the negative forces that faced me. I’d had enough. Instead of giving up, I decided to confront darkness and embrace light. I chose to invest the rest of my time in this life getting busy living.
The truth is we all have insecurities and believe we are imposters to some degree, convinced that, compared to others, we fall far short and are embarrassed about certain aspects of our selves. Most of us believe that our past mistakes, tragedies, bad decisions, infirmities and indiscretions have defined who we are. We forget about past triumphs, accomplishments and people who love and admire us. We are cursed with our current confused, stressful situation and have resigned ourselves to the fact that it will never get better, that our future will just be more of the same.
Those beliefs and thoughts cause us to make decisions that are life destroying, not life affirming. They cause us to shut down relationships because we are convinced that we can’t trust others, or we are not worthy of their love and respect. We become depressed and paralyzed, and the energy drains from our soul. We are afraid that if people know who we really are, if they are made aware of our past and current weaknesses, vulnerabilities, and shamefulness that they will judge us and withdraw their friendship, love and respect. And the longer we live, the more we add to the weight of this self-sabotaging baggage, which in turn slowly crushes our spirit and degrades our self-confidence.
If we want to engage in Sharing Fire® with others, we must accept that we need not be perfect and, in fact, the more mistakes we make and learn from, the more credibility we have in the eyes of others. No one wants to know about your successes unless they know how you failed and rose from the ashes. They want to learn how to stand up and fight after they’ve been knocked down. We need to stop living in the past and instead envision the future we deserve and want, which will lead me to make choices in the present that create a greater future. The present moment is the only reality in which we can live, yet we waste our life dredging up a past we cannot change and worrying about a future we cannot control. Our regrets about our past and anxiety about the unknowns of the future create fear instead of faith. And fear is the greatest destroyer of happiness, love, and human potential.
To live in the now, in the moment, is to not fear anything or anyone or any relationship. It gives us the courage to exercise our creativity and courage, and to take chances because that is the way to true fulfillment. It allows us to love and trust others deeply, to embrace those who are as imperfect as we because they are authentic, humble and human. It teaches us to help relieve pain and heal wounds through empathy, understanding, humor and encouragement. And most importantly, it gives us affirmation and permission to get busy living and to practice Sharing Fire with others to help them create a better life.