Committing to the Messy Middle
When I was a kid, I made up my own language. I wanted to speak in a foreign tongue, but, of course, I didn’t know any, so I just strung some sounds together and pretended. I mostly spoke it to my stuffed animals and sometimes to my little brother, probably to bug him. And occasionally to my mom, probably to impress her. She would sometimes even play along if she could guess from my gestures what I was asking for. I couldn’t have taught you my language. There were no linguistic rules and no consistent “words” even, but I thought it was pretty cool.
When I got to middle school and started studying Spanish, I’d often fantasize about waking up one morning miraculously in full command of the language. Just like that. Overnight. Maybe in the same manner, I could acquire French and Italian and any other language I wanted. It’s a fantasy I still entertain.
I’m eight months into my sabbatical and there’s a part of my brain that still wishes I could just make up a new system of work that would fit my passions and desires perfectly. It wouldn’t matter if no one else had ever seen it before or whether they even fully understood it, they would somehow go along with it, as my mother did. I could be in my own world and of this world at the same time.
And part of my brain wishes desperately I would just wake up tomorrow with the “answer” to this months-long soul journey I’ve been on. That overnight, all the knowledge I need to move forward would just be there along with the means to communicate it to others.
Alas, life is not so simple. And wishing and pretending only get you so far. Sometimes you have to sit in the messy middle for quite a while before you graduate to a higher understanding. You have to be patient and persistent and resist the desire to skip ahead. You have to show up to whatever practices help you master your current development and be willing to invest time and money into the tools you need to grow.
Most of all you have to trust: trust that your intuition led you to this space for a reason; trust that your Higher Self has got this under control; trust that the universe will provide the guidance you need when you need it; trust that the skills and knowledge and talents you have cultivated for so long will serve you well in whatever new direction you take; trust that your friends and family will sit with you in that messy middle.
My daughter is a drama teacher. There’s an exercise she does with little kids that has something to do with creating all kinds of walks. She told the students the other day to cross the gym as if they were slogging through honey. Most of the kids hurried through it, but one little boy moved ever so slowly, dragging his feet through the thick, sticky honey, fully immersed in the illusion. My daughter waited patiently for him to reach the other side.
“He was committed,” she said, and she admired that. She knew he’d get there. He knew it too. But he wasn’t focused on the end goal (getting to the other side) he was content to lean into the exercise of being in the muck. He was more than okay, he was fascinated by the experience.
And now that I’ve committed to sitting in this messy middle, I’m finding it pretty fascinating, too.
To find more inspiring posts like this one, please visit the blog — “Bursts of Brilliance for a Creative Life.”