There are changes that happen in our lives that we do everything to prevent happening. We can see them coming, and we somehow think that if we ignore it and pretend it isn't happening, it won't happen. We dig in our heals, and like a 2 year old we kick and scream into the change.
Most of the time, it is a fear based reaction. Some of the time, we like where we are. We are nice an comfortable, and we know that this change is going to turn our lives upside down. We are afraid that we won't like the change. Rumi asks a interesting question - "How do you know that the side you are used to is better than the one to come?"
I once listened to an interview of an Olympic volleyball player. She talked about what it took to get into the Olympics. Her journey started when she was in junior high and went to a summer sports camp. One of the coaches encouraged her to focus on volleyball to get a scholarship to college. She took the advice to heart and practiced a lot. Upon entering her senior year in high school, she wrote letters to colleges she wanted to attend. She invited them to come and see her play.
She was successful and got a scholarship to college. Her second year in college, they canceled the volleyball program due to budget constraints. So she began her letter writing campaign once again. And once again, she was successful in getting another scholarship. She was an All American athlete her senior year in college. As she was watching the Olympics and a new goal formed in her head. So once again she began writing letters and she was invited to the Olympic tryouts.
The tryouts were a week long, and each day they played all day and at the end of each day, some went home. Friday night, she was still standing, and had made the team. She went to Southern California and for the next four years she trained on a daily basis. They had strict rules around what you ate, what you weighed, the amount of body fat on your body etc.... She said that she realized that all the other players were better players than her. She was determined to improve. She dismantled her game and put it back together.
At the end of four years a lot of players had went home because they couldn't cut it. She said that most of them were better players than she was. She felt that part of the problem was where they set their goals, what their vision was. They had a vision or goal to make the team, whereas she had the goal of playing in the Olympic game and going for the gold.
When she took her game apart to rebuild it, she was changing how she played the game. How she played had been good enough to get two different full ride scholarships to college. It had been good enough to be an All American Player . It was good enough to make it through a grueling stress-filled week of tryouts and make the team. It took a lot of courage to follow her dream and turn her life upside down. She had no guarantee that she would become a better player. It turned out well, because she achieved her dream of playing in the summer Olympics. As Rumi said, the other side was better than the one that she was used to.
Audre Lorde stated "When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid."
What I love about her story is that she didn't just become a great player and then wait to be discovered. She practiced and became a great player. She wrote all those letters promoting just how great she was. When the first college ended the volleyball program, she didn't sit down in defeat. She didn't tell herself it must be a sign that she wasn't supposed to get a college degree. She didn't whine that she must not be a great volleyball player. She started promoting herself once again. When her vision of playing in the Olympic games formed, she once again took action. She promoted herself to the committee. She worked hard to get herself into the tryouts. When she saw that her best game might not be good enough, she was courageous enough to tear her game down to the bones. She rebuilt it even better than before.
It is not enough to show up each day in our life. We need to let life live through us. This means that we treat each day as though it were our last day, meaning that we focus on what is important. It also means that we treat each breath as though it was the first breath we drew into our lungs. This means that we are awake and aware of just how wonderful life is.