Where do you begin when you discover that everything you thought was going to happen will not be happening after all? Plans are so last year and most of us are paralyzed by uncertainty. This year has served up changes daily and sometimes hourly. If it feels like you are on a wild ride, you are not alone. But even in these times, there are some skills you can develop to help you reimagine your future and fly across this Grand Canyon of the unknown.
How do we plan for a future that we can not imagine? To answer that, I would like to start with an assessment of what has changed and what has remained the same for me. Taking stock of what you have is the first exercise in growing wings.
When I listen to the music that I liked when I was 18, it feels like nothing has changed. It is a comfort to feel that some things like my love of the ocean, fairy tales, flowers, stones, dance, and music remain. I’ll call this my inner truth 2020. When I think of all that has transpired for me as a human woman though, everything has changed- my age, my lived experiences, the way the world works. This is my outer truth in 2020. I couldn’t have envisioned this world when I was eighteen. I followed my very own kind of road map, a thread of desire, to create in words, music, and images. Though it made no sense to others as these were all separate and distinct areas of practice back then, it made sense to me intuitively. As for my education, there was no straight line or degree program for my combination of interests at the time. So, I studied music, art, and creative writing as separate courses over the years. Oddly (to me) it was the technology that answered my creative and career needs- quick extraction of creative ideas from my head, empowering my voice, and ease of producing those ideas. With this strange twist I seamlessly rode a technology wave of early creativity and production tools to write and produce games, music, and other interactive and immersive offerings. This career unfolded before me like a magic carpet. It couldn’t have been imagined because it didn’t exist for at least two decades into my young adulthood. Following a simple thread of my inner truth was what remained throughout all the changes of the world.
Now it’s your turn to do the “what has changed and what has not” exercise plus 3 more practices to help you embrace the uncertainty and soar into your future.
WHAT TO TAKE AND WHAT TO LEAVE BEHIND
Make your own list of things that have stayed the same for you and say good-bye to those things that have changed forever. You might even ceremonialize this by writing down what you are leaving behind on scraps of paper and burning them (safely). The brain needs clear endings and beginnings. Pay attention to that which has remained true for you “no matter what.” Put these inner truths in your imaginary backpack and head out toward tomorrow.
YOUR MUSE IS CALLING – LISTEN UP
The great poet, Mary Oliver, wrote, “The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.” You may not see yourself as creative, but your inner self does, and creativity is the number one skill everyone will need in the next decade. Don’t worry about the messiness of creating something good or beautiful. Practice translating what’s in your heart. Let yourself feel the calling and give it space and time in your life.
CREATE SOMETHING FROM NOTHING – BE RESOURCEFUL
Creating something from nothing has always been seen as an artist’s work. I argue that it is everyone’s work, but it is not about skill, tools, or delivery systems. It is soul work. Covid-19 has helped us think about our spaces differently. Where we work, live, play, and how it all affects us. There is a larger platform to express ideas and what is needed in the world- your world. Ideas were never born in boxes. Refresh and reuse the ordinary into the extraordinary. This insight is the language of the next decade.
KNOW YOURSELF – WRITE IT ALL DOWN
I highly recommend keeping day and night journals. The day journal is to hold your conscious ideas, thoughts, and feelings. The night journal is for capturing those elusive dreams and images that are reordered and fed back to your conscious mind through your very own symbolic language. For the most part, these two types of journals will give you different insights into your inner workings. This is where you will discover what will never change. Self-knowledge is the stuff that wings are made of.
Across the chasm of uncertainty there’s a new life, a next chapter, a begin-again. Step to the edge and fly.