I had an opportunity to go to India this spring. In fact, I would be going next month if I’d jumped on it. But I didn’t. Even though it may have only cost a plane ticket for the entire two-week trip, the more I pursued making it happen, the more meh I felt about it.
I thought I wanted to go – I should want to go to India and see the Taj Mahal and do volunteer work with the poorest of the poor. I was well qualified to join the group, and despite my need for a scholarship, it seemed very probable. I told my family I wanted to go, but even to my ears, I didn’t sound very enthused. I found myself saying things like, “Even though India isn’t really on my list of places to visit, I’d be silly to pass up the chance” and “I’ll leave it to fate – after all, I can’t make something happen that isn’t supposed to happen, right?”
Then an opportunity came up for me to go back to Ireland to attend a nature writing workshop at the famed artists retreat Anam Cara on the Beara Peninsula. I jumped off the couch when I got the email.
“Fuck yeah, I’m there!”
I immediately knew this was what I wanted – and needed – to do. I emailed the workshop leader about my interest and asked her when I had to decide by. Her response came back:
“You will need to pay the deposit very soon, we are going to fill up fast.”
A deposit. Soon. A death knell. I wasn’t even done paying off my last trip to Ireland! How was I going to come up with the money for a ticket to India AND go to Ireland on my tiny income?
But I couldn’t let go of the chance to go to Ireland to write. I wanted it so bad I could taste it. I dreamt about it. I told everyone how important it was to me. I immediately ordered a bunch of books about the Beara Peninsula. All things I hadn’t done as I considered going to India.
And then it hit me—I was so used to an attitude of scarcity that I couldn’t see the rich choices I had. India was what was available so I said yes, thinking it was my only option. I hadn’t even considered what else I could do. Or, what I really wanted to do.
Never say yes out of fear.
I was being lazy by leaving the decision to go to India to “fate”. I was afraid that by making a choice, I would be shutting out opportunities instead of opening the door to them. So, I tried not to make a choice at all.
But, perhaps fate did intervene. The possibility of returning to Ireland made the difference between “That seems cool,” and “FUCK YEAH!” extremely obvious. I’d been trying to wash my hands of responsibility for pursuing what I really wanted even to the point of not admitting how bad I wanted it. I was afraid I’d fail, that the answer would be no, that I’d been seen as irresponsible or selfish or greedy. A workshop where I’d write about what I loved in the very place in Ireland I’d wanted to return to presented an opportunity I couldn’t ignore. Fuck yeah, I wanted to go!
In the face of my deep desire to go to Ireland, I had to turn down the possibility of going to India — not because of money or time or even work, but because it simply didn’t make my heart sing.
As soon as I sent the letter saying that I withdrew from the India program, I felt incredibly light. I’d stepped from a mindset of limitations to believing I had abundant choices – and the ability to make what I truly wanted happen.
By the end of that week, I paid the deposit on the workshop.
And the way keeps opening before me.
Daring to say what I really wanted – and DOING something about it – was a big lesson for me when I went to Ireland this past fall. But there is no set number of awesome things I can do in my life. Possibilities always exist where the desire to make them happen lies. I am under no obligation to agree to things just because it seems like a good idea — unless it is a good idea for ME.
My son Donovan knows something about this. Two anxiety filled years spent in prestigious art schools were something of a waste (despite his obvious talent) because it wasn’t what made his heart sing. When he finally tearfully shouted to me (and the world) that what he really wanted was to be a chef, the universe kicked into motion to make it happen. Now when I ask him if he is happy and loving life and cooking and school, his answer is, guess what? Fuck yeah!
For years I’ve had a sticker on the water bottle I use every day that says:
Forsake inhibitions, pursue thy dreams
I’m glad I am. Maybe it’s time for you too?