Discovering Wisdom, Success, Fate and Truth
The following are four little stories about things that shaped my thinking about life. I believe there is a divine wisdom behind every experience. I also believe that everyone can be successful if they choose to be, that everything happens for a reason, and that we live our purpose by being true to ourselves. This is how I know.
The Mud Puddle
Is there anyone so wise as to learn by the experience of others? - Voltaire
I’ve always been an observer of human behaviour. As the youngest of five children, I have had lots of opportunity to learn from my siblings and to observe how their behaviour affected my parents and their own lives. As a child I observed my neighbours and friends as they experienced challenges and I developed a wisdom that went far beyond my years. I believe it is because of my tendency to observe and analyse behaviour that I have developed the ability to read people very well. If I am paying attention, I feel like I can see right inside people. I am often surprised at how bang on I can be in understanding what people are about.
It is my personal belief that we are all here to teach people something they need to know. We don’t know when we are teaching or who we are learning from until the deed is done. In my mind (and I could be all wrong), we are all healers interacting to heal the inner brokenness that hides inside each of us. Even the most inane things we do contain teachable moments. If you are aware and reflective, you can catch them.
One evening back in the early 1990’s, my husband dropped me off at the door of a drug store so I could pick up a prescription. He then parked the car and waited for me to come out. When I got back into the car my husband said to me, “Renée, you have to watch this. Do you see that big mud puddle over there? Watch people try to jump over it.” The puddle was very large and deceptively deep. People would decide to jump over the puddle thinking that they could just put their toes into the centre and leap to the other side. Unfortunately, whenever people put their foot into the middle of the puddle, they would discover that they were standing in about twelve inches of water. Needless to say we laughed our asses off for a good twenty minutes as person after person tried to leap across the puddle. Mean, I know, but it was incredibly entertaining!
I still laugh remembering people’s reactions to discovering they were in deep water, but I’ve always been left with the feeling that there was an important life lesson being taught to me that evening. It seems to me that the puddle really mirrors life. What, you say? Think about it. There are times when we find ourselves in difficulty and we have to make a judgement call. Is it better to keep going or to turn back? I always feel that if you are already wet, you may as well just keep moving forward, but how many people give up on pursuing something as soon as things get really tough? How often have you found yourself in a metaphorical mud puddle? What did you ultimately decide to do?
Indoor Rock Climbing
Success is due to our stretching to the challenges of life. Failure comes when we shrink from them. - John C. Maxwell
When I was in my thirties, I decided to make drastic changes in my life by leaving my husband, a religion and my entire social network behind. After years of living a go-nowhere existence, I struck out on my own with three very young children, re-educated myself and embarked on a new career. It was a very bold move. I had no one to rely on but myself, but I trusted myself. I knew that the previous decisions I made that stifled my existence were not finite. I could make new decisions and carve out a new life for myself. I only had to stretch myself and trust that I would find solutions to any challenge that came up. I decided to slay one dragon at a time. It was wonderfully empowering. In fact, it was intoxicating and joyful to be able to free myself from all the limitations my previous decisions imposed upon me and to see how opportunities unfolded before me just by being open to them. Life is really about decisions, isn’t it? We are never really as powerless as we feel.
In my quest to try new things and taste life, I decided to try indoor rock climbing. I loved it, but not because it was physically challenging or scary in any way. I simply found it to be an experience that mirrored life. When you first start climbing, your inclination is to stretch with your arms and pull yourself up, but your strength is in your legs. You need to push with your legs to get where you want to go. Don’t look down, just look forward. The ultimate goal is to get to the top of the wall and ring the bell which seems to be located in a place that is impossible to reach, but when you push with your legs and reach up, you get there. That is how to be successful in life. Look ahead, do what seems counter-intuitive to get to where you want to go, and stretch yourself to experience the joy of accomplishment. Is there anything better?
Not only does God play dice but... he sometimes throws them where they cannot be seen. - Stephen Hawking
The universe (or God, if you wish) moves things into place and everything happens for a reason. That, I know for sure. Back in the days when the book and movie, The Secret was gaining popularity, I decided to try my hand at visualization. I began to visualize finding $100 bill in a parking lot. For months I focused on the image of finding the money and made a habit of reciting, “Money comes to me from all directions. I find money, I earn money, I win money; I always have lots and lots of money.” I joined a book club that met at noon on Fridays in a neighbouring city. We were reading Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. One Friday, I drove to my book club meeting and on the way began reciting my money incantation. I anticipated being about half an hour early for my meeting, but missed my exit on the highway and ended up being ten minutes late instead. As I pulled into the parking lot, I somehow felt disinclined to park in my usual spot and instead found a spot on the other side of the parking lot, near the door. I went to the meeting and when I returned to my car an hour later I noticed a $20 bill right under the rear bumper of my car. It had been driven on and was a bit dirty. It was as though the universe placed it there for me to find. Needless to say, I was pretty excited. I couldn’t help but marvel at the series of events that made me late and directed me to park in that spot. Since the money had tire tracks on it, it must have been there all along, yet nobody else saw it. It was clearly intended for me. It wasn’t the $100 bill I had been envisioning, but I was grateful to have manifested it and continued to envision finding $100.
A few months after finding the $20 bill, I was taking my kids to see their doctor for a check-up. As I pulled into the parking lot I found a spot near the door and I was going to back into it, but there was a lady putting her baby into a car seat and I thought I would be in her way. I decided to just go into the underground parking, instead. As I walked toward the elevators, I looked down and spotted a $100 bill on the ground. No other people were in the parking garage at that time. Once again, it was as though the universe directed me to go to the place where I would find the money. I thanked the universe once more for opening up the opportunity to find the money I had been envisioning.
I find money all the time, now. It has become a little game I play, but the point of this story is not to tell you that you can envision something and receive it. The point is that we can’t always see how things manifest in our lives. Things happen and we fail to see the wisdom in them. Even the most mundane events can have a higher purpose. Why do we make the decisions we make? Why do we make mistakes? Why do we choose to turn left instead of right, or to go up instead of down? When bad things happen to us, is there a higher purpose? I believe there is. I believe that we are all on a journey that takes us somewhere we need to be and that each experience teaches us something we need to know, or allows us to teach something to someone else. Your life is a journey and not one minute of it is wasted if you are continuing to reach for something better or different. The key is to have goals, dare to dream and move forward no matter what naysayers tell you. Life is a beautiful experience for those who look for beauty and appreciate every moment. Live, reflect, learn and teach.
The Golf Course
It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are. - E.E. Cummings
When I was 21, I changed my religion and began a way of life that was vastly different from the one I grew up with. The result was that I lived in a bubble for twelve years. I learned everything I could about my new religion and practiced as perfectly as I could, exceeding everyone’s expectations. I lived in a veritable cultural coma, cut off from music, movies, modern books, even the evolving language of every day English. It was a bit like being in a cult. I get it when I see women on talk shows relating their experiences with religious fanatics and cults. I understand how it feels very well.
My parents were naturally upset to see me live this way, but I was having none of what they were telling me. I had to do what I believed was right. My mother told me I was not being true to myself and that I would not be happy. My father believed I would not stay, because I was a fun person and I would not be able to handle such a rigid existence. Looking back, I am amazed that I stuck it out so devoutly for twelve years.
It was a very painful time in my life, and twenty years after leaving, I still find it difficult to write or speak about it at length. I hate for people to know, but here I am sharing this because I know there was a wisdom behind all of it. Perhaps it was what I needed to do to learn the value of being true to yourself and not living life according the expectations of others. I always liked myself, but I gave up being my unique self for God. I now know that it is a human thing to expect people to conform to ideals, to follow rules and discourage deep thinking. Oh, I know; all religions think they are above that, but they are not.
One sunny October day I happened to be driving past a golf course. It looked beautiful and I thought how wonderful it would be to be able to golf on a Sunday morning and go have brunch somewhere. Living the life I chose, I knew I would never have that opportunity. I had educated myself, and would never be able to make use of it. I would never be allowed to achieve anything as long as I was married to my husband and living the life we were living.
I went home, called my mother and started to make plans to change my life. I had no idea what I was going to do or how I was going to do it, but I knew I had to make different decisions and leave that life behind. My brother called me and advised me to go to the business section of the library and borrow some business books about sales and leadership so that I could get a job. I began to read voraciously. One day, I picked up a little known Dale Carnegie book called, The Leader In You. Honestly, I don’t know what was in that book that resonated with me, but it absolutely changed my life. I started to see possibility and I began to become more of who I naturally was. In March of 1997, I broke free and was unstoppable. I have never gone back. I enjoy every breath I take. I refuse to be defined by others. I look forward to all the possibilities that lay before me. I love deeply and laugh often. I wish everyone could experience that kind of joy and power. You can't live your purpose being what other people want you to be. You must know yourself, love yourself, be courageous and be all of who you are if you are going to thrive at all in this world.
Renée Cormier is a communications professional, published author, sales and marketing strategist and entrepreneur. Need help growing your business? Visit http://www.reneecormier.com to contact.
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