What I’m realizing more and more, lately, is just how much time and energy people spend coping with their circumstances. And how little satisfaction it gives them when they appear to have everything under control. Though I never came close to feeling in control of anything these last few months, I can certainly relate to the pressures of keeping it together. With the challenges of relocating my business to America and creating others to continue my work in Australia, managing moving my family to the USA in due course while living apart from them months at a time, polishing my latest book, The Last Shaman, and launching it as a self published work, and coordinating some upcoming safaris in Africa, I increasingly felt like I was going nuts. Until I began reading the first chapter of my first book, The Magician’s Way. When I read the following two paragraphs I almost cried with relief:
“Steve stopped talking and took a good look around us as if he wanted to make sure no one else was listening. I had the feeling he was about to let me in on a big secret. ‘You see,’ he began again in a hushed tone, ‘everything you’ve been taught about golf is a big myth. It’s driven by fear – the fear that we can’t hit a golf ball. Consequently, we don’t rely on our natural ability. We try to control the shot with our rational minds.
‘When you’re playing a shot, you’re standing in an invisible circle. Golfers believe that you hit a good shot by getting everything in the circle right, that if you can simultaneously control every aspect of the swing, then it will translate to getting the ball to do what you want it to. But golf is really about what’s outside the circle. It’s about the target. If you can go back to trusting your natural ability and just focus on the target, you’ll play excellent golf. You’ll be able to do anything you want.’ ”
We have a natural ability – in fact, who or what we are is pure creative spirit – but we become lost to our nature and go about life according to whatever beliefs we have about how to cope in view of the fact that we wont naturally create what we love. The swing circle is a metaphor for how we try to get everything under control in order to create the conditions we believe are necessary to achieve desired outcomes. I can’t help but think back to Michael Ellsberg’s book, The Education of Millionaires, where he points out how most people think that perfecting a craft will lead to success in a craft, where as the most successful people in any craft are mostly not the best in their field. Think of the actors and musicians we could mention here. As Michael points out, many people think that a PhD, the ultimate in academic validation, will translate into being more valuable in the work force, but nowadays PhDs are waiting on tables that billionaire college dropouts are eating at.
Most of the activity that we undertake is inessential. It’s what we BELIEVE needs to happen to get the results we’re after. But mostly what will ACTUALLY get the best results takes far less effort, and is different from what we think. Creativity, leadership, salesmanship are the skills that the guys and gals eating at the tables have that the PhDs serving them don’t have. Life for those being served is likely to be far more exciting, effortless and fulfilling. They will say, “I’m passionate about what I do, it’s not work.” The ones serving them will find paying the bills, studying endlessly and doing something that doesn’t express their true talent a drag.
For me, when I read those paragraphs in The Magician’s Way, I remembered that somewhere along the line the need to understand how everything would come together subconsciously tripped me into trying to take rational control of my personal and professional affairs. The more I tried to be in control, the less I trusted my natural ability. And the less I trusted my natural ability, the more the inessential but seemingly critical things needed to be taken care of.
Being reminded that I have a natural ability that can more effortlessly pull things together than my rational faculties can has allowed me to relax. When control is not the objective, the inessential activities that exist to achieve control stand down. And once that busy minded doing ceases, we can begin to see the obvious connection between relevant aspects of our creations, we notice what is obviously the most direct and effective action that we can take. It’s a function of inspiration, really, although inspiration, when you understand it, is simply an awareness of the obvious.
At the same time I don’t want to diminish the magic that our natural ability brings to bear. When I hit tennis balls for my dog I use my natural ability to hit the ball farther than I can when I try using effort. I choose a spot where I want the ball to land that is a real stretch for the strength of the racket I use – then I keep the spot in mind as I calmly hit the ball. I’m always amazed at how the ball always lands where I envisioned it landing. There is somehow an extra sweet spot on the racket that the ball connects with. Even if the ball goes off target, it will inevitably bounce back to the mark I chose. This combination of practical creativity and extraordinary luck always accompanies any process that has been handed over to natural ability. It truly is a wonder to behold.
Many people say that it takes a lot of will to let go and trust in the magic. Indeed it does. It’s really comparable to beginning to fly rather than walk everywhere. All our conditioning insists that we are not designed to fly. So when we begin to take off, we doubt how long we can stay aloft, and naturally fear that the higher we fly the further we’ll fall. But hey, even birds have to learn and practice how to fly. And as they will attest, it’s a skill worth learning. Sure beats the shit out of walking and hopping around.