Do whatever you do for the sheer joy of it and to honor, that which gave you the life to do it.
I had a dream the once where I was watching a small airplane struggling to gain altitude, to free itself from the gravity restraints of the Earth below. The engine sputtered and it looked as though it was going to crash into the side of a bridge. At the last moment it pulled up sharply, did a backward barrel roll, and barely missed the ground as it pulled out. I thought him a fool until I could see the pilot grinning as he turned the plane into a corkscrew roll, climbed and dove again, oblivious to the danger of failure and screaming with joy. Then I understood and grinned with him.
The dream reminded me of the book Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach*. Jonathan was a seagull who lived to fly. He practiced impossible dives and rolls for the shear joy of the flight. The other gulls frowned in disgust and judgment because that wasn’t appropriate behavior for a seagull, but that didn’t affect Jonathan, because he wasn’t doing what he was doing for the approval of others–Jonathan was doing it for his own soul.
Sometimes I find myself dismayed at how few people show interest in my work with dreams. I keep looking at my blog, book, and website statistics to validate that I’m succeeding. But the real truth for myself is that I do what I do because of the sheer joy of doing it–I do it to free my soul and to let it soar. When I allow the judgments of others to define me, there’s no freedom to soar, much struggle, and no joy.
Yes, it’s nice to get acknowledgment for who you are and what you’re doing, but engineering your life so as to gain acceptance is a trap with no joy in it. Yes, you may need to work toward acceptance in order to advance or maintain a career, that’s a good strategy sometimes, but notice that the people who are flying high sometimes take risks as well and nearly hit the ground time and again. Like Jonathan it is in their nature to soar. Deep down I believe that it is in all our natures to break free of our self-imposed restraints and do a barrel-roll through the clouds.
Deep down beneath our cultural, social, ego-bound, and well-trained personae there is a soul struggling to be free of the gravity of our restraints. The first thing to do is to acknowledge that you have such a soul, such a desire, such a need to be free– to fly as your self and not as someone else’s image of what you should be.
“He spoke of very simple things- that it is right for a gull to fly, that freedom is the very nature of his being, that whatever stands against that freedom must be set aside, be it ritual or superstition or limitation in any form.
“Set aside,” came a voice from the multitude, “even if it be the Law of the Flock?”
“The only true law is that which leads to freedom,” Jonathan said. “There is no other.”
It won’t be easy, even Jonathan crashed a few times before he got the hang of it, but that gnawing void in him kept pushing to be free.
Practice being free, a little at first until you begin to master its technique. Accept that there might be failures and that from them you’ll learn.
Dedicate everything you do to something bigger than yourself. Over time this will free you from your worry-filled ego-self that wants to be accepted, to blend, and not look too weird. Jonathan may have looked as though he was doing what he was doing just for his own pleasure, but in reality he was honoring the creator who never intended that we should constrain ourselves and become servant to our limited images.
Give thanks to your own wings, your own gifts, and the time you’ve been given on Earth to learn to soar.
“You have the freedom to be yourself, your true self, here and now, and nothing can stand in your way”.”
*Bach, Richard, “Jonathan Livingston Seagull, a story”, Macmillan Publishing Co. Inc., N.Y., 1970