The Time It Takes To Unfold

Little Acorn
photo by Suzie Ridler

Often in interviews people ask me what I wish I’d known when I started out, what I’d like to be sure that people on the same path know. My answer is always the same: “It’s going to take longer than you think and longer than you would like.”

I’m guessing you don’t like that answer any more than I did.

When I wasn’t sure of my career path, I wanted to figure it out pronto. When I wanted my coaching practice to replace my day job, I wanted it to happen now. When I was ready to heal my art wounds, I wanted to make one brave gesture and be done with it. When I became a creative entrepreneur, I wanted to launch one product and BAM be a wild success.

Not one of those things worked like that. Not one.

It wasn’t for lack of trying. I worked hard!! I thought that if I could do more, put in more effort, go faster, try harder, then I could get the momentum going. By sheer force of will I could make it happen. Now.

That didn’t work either. In fact, that only resulted in exhaustion and even more discouragement. 

Why wasn’t it happening?

With so much talk of ‘life purpose” and “flow” and “following the energy,” if things weren’t moving forward, maybe I was on the wrong path. Maybe I would never find my career, be a coach, heal my art wounds or become a successful entrepreneur. Maybe I was on the wrong path. Maybe I needed to start over, think harder, dig deeper, get advice, sign up for a programme. Whatever it would take to figure it out, I would do it.

But this wasn’t about me working harder. This wasn’t about me getting it right or getting it wrong. This wasn’t about me what was ‘meant to be’. This was about life.

Life takes time.

Power, beauty, wisdom, strength, confidence, skill, knowledge, experience – all of these things take time to develop and to unfold. We cannot hurry the stages of our growth anymore than an acorn can will itself into becoming a tree by next weekend. Even if it could, it would be a tree that hadn’t had the time to grow strong or deep or wise. It wouldn’t have dug its roots firmly into the earth so it could hold its own weight and stand tall and proud no matter the weather. It wouldn’t have layers and layers and layers earned through season after season after season. It simply wouldn’t have all that it needed to be a magnificent tree.

It seems so unfair. We’re not rushing for the sake of rushing. We’ve been waiting all of our lives. We’re not 16 or 26 or 36 any more. If we haven’t succeeded by now, will we? We’re in pain, we’re suffering and we need something to hold onto. We need to know that eventually we’ll get there.

We have no way of knowing where we’ll get to.

There are no maps that guarantee you’ll reach the destination you’ve set your sights on but that doesn’t mean the journey’s not worth taking – and it certainly doesn’t mean you should stay still. It also doesn’t mean that you should tear your hair out while deciphering map after map after map in an attempt  to plan the perfect route to guaranteed success. There’s no such thing.

Life is an adventure.

Sometimes we’re whooshing downhill on our bicycles, hands in the air, wind in our hair, amazed and maybe frightened by the speed! Sometimes we’re meandering a delicate meadow path, heavy with the day’s heat, pausing every now and again to watch butterflies. Sometimes we have our shoulder to the wheel, our feet are dug in deep, our thighs rippling as we push, push, push to move forward. Sometimes we’re knocking at the door, our gentle rapping becoming increasingly insistent as we tire of waiting for an answer.

Be where you are.

You are a great adventurer, {{ subscriber.first_name }}. You have come far and done well. Yes, there are more journeys – many, in fact. So, yes, get out your map. Yes, plot the journey, as best you can. Take one step and then another and another. Build your strength. Hone your skills. Taste the blessings of this landscape. And every day, celebrate how far you’ve come.