March and April in the south of Europe are my favorite months of the year. They announce the delicate warmth of Spring sun, the birds are more visible, and people get overall more optimistic. For the first time, after a seemingly eternal winter, we all can see the light at the end of the “cold tunnel”. Our hope in nonstop gorgeous mornings and cozy evenings under the stars is renewed. This change of season is typically very welcome as it brings only positive things with it, even though we do not have any control whatsoever over it. But this apparent gracefulness in accepting nature disappears as soon as we hit the wall of leaving behind familiar -personal and/or professional- territory in a short period of time. I call this the ‘up-in-the-air‘ moment, marked by the natural dose of anxiety combined with a bit of resistance caused by the uncertainty of the unexplored path ahead of us. The fact is we do react quite differently when in our -professional and/or personal- lives changes in core areas start to happen, one after the other. Whether we have consciously chosen them or not, they can stir up many different emotions and underlying fears, awakening our inner sleeping dragons.
When I was a pre-teen, I got quite hooked up with the ‘choose your own adventure‘ book series. It simply fascinated me, back then, how exciting it was to be able to explore all the different options that the main character (me) had available. But most importantly, I cherished the control I had over the final outcome of the story, since I could make an ‘informed’ choice and go back on my footsteps in case that the option I had gone for did not turned up to be the ‘ideal’ one. It struck me recently that perhaps reading those books had not been such a positive influence, after all. Even though I could see the strategic value of indulging in the pros and cons of each option, the truth of the matter is that in real life we only get one shot at taking a defining decision in the most relevant of moments. Inevitably, my love for these kind of books led me to a life of constant mental revival of past events and choices. How would it have been, had I done X or Y? Would the result have been similar? Is my present reality a huge mistake or just a random milestone towards a brighter future? I am aware that this means I am developing my personal version of the movie ‘sliding doors‘, having Monty Python’s Spanish Inquisition as faithful companion…
At the core of such a state of affairs is most certainly a deep resistance to make peace with the chosen path, embracing and committing to it and its consequences. It takes a great level of maturity and humility to welcome the lessons and opportunities that life generously brings your way. Specially, when you reach a calm passage in your adventure where you need to wait for things to happen and your fate is dependent upon other people’s actions. Dr. Seuss calls this the Waiting Place, which is probably the most challenging of places, not much action going on while emotional stress piles up (if you are not a process oriented person…). Hence, the perfect test to your resilience.
When we bought an old house to renovate it and live in it, I never expected to be still waiting for the real action to start three years down the road. I was aware that it was not going to be an easy ride, based on my childhood memories of my parents’ house. However, nothing prepares you for the kind of patience required to effectively navigate your way around delays and setbacks. I must say I was able to rectify and make realistic plans, taking necessary and painful steps to follow through with these. Sometimes, those steps were backwards, sometimes forwards. Looking back, I just realized that I was still grieving my financial freedom previously to acquiring a substantial loan to buy the property, instead of actually committing 100% to the project. By not letting go and exploring the new possibilities that the change had brought to my life, I was not only not showing up for my own adventure, but I was undermining my family own spirit of adventure and resilience. It is hard to open the eyes to this fact. But the good news is that, by doing so, you start to be aware of the behavioral changes you need to make to claim back lost ground, and feel your optimistic self again. In the words of D. Seuss, ‘life may be a great balancing act, but through it all there’s fun to be done’.