I was working in a neighbourhood today where I spent my first ten years inhabiting this wet/ dry, blue and brown spinning mineral deposit. As I wandered the once familiar streets, I began recalling events I was surprised I could remember at all; the house my father built and where I was born, the second house we lived in, the Wilson’s house with their huge cockatoo, the woman down the street who babysat us and who gave me a big hug today, both of my aunties houses, my best friends houses, the Harrisons where I watched a horror movie when I was ten and my father met me half way home in a snow storm, the lady next door who used to feed us dog biscuits as treats (they weren’t bad actually), the house I broke into when I was nine... a flood of differing experiences.
We moved from the neighbourhood when I was ten. Introducing myself to those whom I knew then was an odd experience. I am 43 years older than the last time I met them and about two and a half feet taller. They seemed mostly the same… a hugger, a somewhat cranky fellow, a police officer. Even the environs had the same optical flavour.
It then occurred to me, aside from my core values, I was not the same. My old inhibitions were gone. I have no issue approaching anyone… president or pauper. I haven’t the same fears I had then. If there was something that wasn’t working for me, I changed it, eliminated it or dated it out to be dealt with when I was ready. I had also experienced things over the past 43 years that made the old neighbourhood look a little off colour from what I remembered.
I then remembered The Wall.
In 1995, I lost everything for the first time. My then wife and I had broken our marriage, I lost my job (or gave it away… I’m not sure) and I was alone and far from home. I was pretty depressed and had all but given up on anything that might amount to a dream. One Tuesday night I received a phone call from a friend inviting me to a meeting. I had no idea what it might be about and, despite some inner doubt, the word yes spewed out of my mouth without a degree of dithering.
Out of that meeting and an initial program came The Wall… a program about finding your comfort zone and making it bigger. It’s about learning to do more than you thought you were capable of. It’s about finding out who you are… what makes you tick. It’s all about coming up against self manufactured walls of resistance and crashing through them.
A lot of changes have come about since that Tuesday night. Once I began to face my fears, I recognized they weren’t as powerful as I had imagined. Spilling one’s guts out in front of a room full of strangers tends to open your boundaries in a hurry… and restore your self confidence just as quickly.
A smart person once said to me, “You have to fall into the darkness before you can appreciate the light”.
Every decision to change comes from wanting to be better today than I was yesterday. It does not mean I’m broken. It does not mean I have to be fixed. It does not mean I am not enough. It means there are things I can do better, greater things I can learn and self confidence I can build on. It all began with one step… one response of “yes”… and deciding to get out of the rut and show up in my own life. What did I learn most? If I put out to the world that which I desire most, the person I save will ultimately be myself.
When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.
The neighbourhood will never look the same because my lenses have permanently changed hue. By the time I return once again, the people may feel the same and I will have grown a bit more... the hue of my lenses will be a little different again…
And that’s a good thing.