Life feels like walking a tightrope.
While I want to get to the other side, I have no choice but to focus on taking one step at a time. The moment that I take my attention away from where I am, I fall and am no longer living.
It can feel scary, if I begin to think about the many ‘what ifs’. At the start of the pandemic, I wrote about the two types of fear in life. Those that keep us living and those that keep us from living. While walking the tightrope of life, the fear of falling keeps me focused on the rope, not the other side. This is how I can continue to live.
Expectations take my attention away from the rope. Expectations introduce a fear, anxiety and tension that causes me to lose my focus and ability to with the present moment, and all of its beauty and wonder.
At the start of the pandemic, in the face of the unknown, my expectations on life, and on the world, quickly changed. For example, what I expected of my business lowered. I reforecasted down our revenue and financial plan for the year, aligned with our client’s reduced expectations for their businesses. Then into the Spring, when I realized that my business was not only outperforming our reduced forecast but also our original pre pandemic plan, I felt a sense of relief, ease and confidence that I had not earlier.
From a place of ease and without expectations, over the summer I started to make changes and choices for my business that have led to even stronger performance and a culture that I am proud to be a part of. My focus had been on simply walking the tightrope, without trying to get anywhere.
Then, everything started to change, as it always does.
A few weeks ago, I began to notice a light layer of anxiety, tension and worry re-enter my daily presence. My empty spaces, those moments when I first wake up or am taking a walk outside, are not so empty and free as they once were a few months ago. My sleep is not as uninterrupted and restful as it had been. Even my digestion is not as consistent, despite no changes in what I consume. All of these signs tell me that I have fallen from the tightrope and took my attention away from the present.
I was on a hike yesterday and while reflecting on how I have been feeling over the past few weeks, the signs that have shown up my physical body, I could pinpoint all of this unpleasant change to the moment I began to set expectations again, for my business, my commitments, my lifestyle, my community and my life. While I remain excited about the endless possibilities in this Year Zero moment of reset, the expectations have become a distraction. I have lost my balance and have fallen off the tightrope.
The beauty is that the simple awareness that I have fallen is sufficient for me to be back on the path. It is effortless and automatic. The act of seeing, reflecting and noticing where I am lifts me back on to the rope.
Walking through life is a balancing act no doubt. A balance with having a direction to guide my choices, so that they are aligned and consistent with my intentions, and with staying present with what is in front of me.
In the face of big expectations on life, I risk feeling paralyzed and not being able to see the next step to take that is right in front of me. Or worse, focus only on the destination and fail to appreciate the journey along the way.
This is the tightrope of life. To move forward, verses to stand still. To believe that I know what the next step is, even if I don’t know all of the steps. And to not be intimidated by or obsessed with some expectation for a future that has been fabricated in my mind.
I can only walk through life one step at a time.