It’s funny, I never consider the question, “How did I get where I am?” Well to be completely honest, I have in the past, but not in recent times. I used to ponder this question while I spent seven years in Jungian therapy with an amazing therapist. I didn’t look at it as exploring the journey, but feeling a bit less “crazy” than I was feeling.
As I read more and more biographies, memoirs, or pathographies, this question of “how did I get here?” seems to get raised over and over. We’re drawn, even mesmerized by the answers that famous or notable people give to this question. It’s as if they’ve unlocked the mysteries of the Universe and we’re destined to see if their solutions are universal or specific to their own lives. There was a point in time when these books were my saving grace, but one day I realized that we’ve all got our own journey to follow, each worth its own book.
So why is this question rearing its head today? What’s the catalyst for throwing me into the jaws of self-reflection? Am I at a crossroads that is waiting for a solution? What would happen if I ignored this question…that’s simple; it would keep coming up waiting for me to seek some level of resolution.
Last night I watched an episode of Oprah’s ¨Master class with Justin Timberlake”. I enjoy Timberlake’s music, his comedic talent and his acting abilities. I was taken by how eloquently he expressed his views and sharing of his life’s journey. He was thoughtful without being pompous. He was honest, humble, and genuine.
One of the stories he told was about an interview he was doing when the reporter said, “I’m supposed to hate you. You make everything look so easy”. Timberlake was very clear that what the world sees is easy; what it takes for him to get to that point requires great sacrifice. Those sacrifices include bleeding fingers from practicing the guitar for hours on end. He talks about his legs cramping from rehearing dance moves, and the sheer exhaustion from all the rehearsal. It’s all that blood, sweat, and tears that allows him to make everything he does look easy.
His message was clear; “you’ve got to do the work”. We may think he’s talking about our vocation, but he really means putting in the time to achieve your goal. It’s about the commitment to a process, your process, that will reap great rewards. It’s possible to “do the work” in multiple areas of your life.
Last week I talked about Dan Harris’ book 10% Happier: How I tamed the voice in my head, reduced stress without losing my edge, and found self-help that actually works- A true story. In the end Harris turned to meditation, and that’s the work he needs to do to achieve his personal and professional goals. His commitment is palpable as you read his story. You can understand how important “doing the work” is to keeping Harris sharp, professionally, and more present in all his relationships.
Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way gives anyone with the desire to live creatively an opportunity to unlock their own potential. The book walks you through a 12-week journey. Each morning Cameron suggests that you write. “Morning Pages” is the writing exercise you do each morning as a way to start the day and to make sure you start the day fresh, not holding on to yesterday’s ball and chain. Cameron suggests that you write three pages each day. She also encourages you to commit to an artist’s date once a week. It only works if you “do the work”.
If you’ve been diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening illness “the work” is a bit different. I’m not only talking about treatment; that is work, but I’m thinking about those things that bring happiness to your life. I’m thinking that part of “the work” is how do you resolve the spiritual questions that lead you to acceptance without a struggle. When facing a health challenge, “the work” may be about self-empowerment. Finding your voice in the world and with your medical providers.
The amazing thing about “doing the work” is that it requires action and any action will result in some type of outcome. You get to make an assessment on the success of the outcome and you can either continue or choose to make changes. Perhaps it’s time to change doctors because you’ve lost confidence in their effectiveness. You may look to alternative treatments or clinical trials to expand the range of possibilities on your journey to health and healing. It doesn’t matter what action ensues as long as you take action.
Obviously these words of wisdom have worked great for Justin Timberlake. They aren’t a universal solution, but a hint at what’s possible. If you use his life as an example you can personalize “the work” to any aspect of your life!
What do you think is possible if you “do the work”?
Surviving Strong provides education, support, and inspiration when facing a chronic or life-threatening illness. Visit www.survivingstrong.com
Interested in exploring Art and Healing? Visit www.timetolivecreatively.com