Years ago, I got into a conversation in a bus station with a complete stranger. We began talking about our current work, and what we dreamed of doing. I was a teacher in London at the time. I said I dreamed of standing in front of an audience and speaking about what really mattered to me. As I said those words, an image rose in my mind, and I saw my future self doing just that. Over the years I pondered the image often, always asking myself if I had reached that moment. Every time I stood on a stage and spoke, I asked myself if I was ‘there’, in that perfect moment, yet.
Because it wasn’t so much what I looked like in the picture. It was the way I FELT. I could feel the calm, the authenticity behind my own words, the joy I felt at being able to really speak my own truth. And I’d never felt that, no matter how many times I’d spoken.
Two days ago I gave a talk at TEDx Perth. It is without any doubt the most terrified I have ever been on a stage in my life (I still can’t watch the playback without my heart rate accelerating through the roof). And it wasn’t that perfect moment – there were certain key differences – but I recognise it for being the first stage of the journey to that moment, and so I am enjoying it already, increased heart rate and all.
Since the idea for the TEDx talk popped into my mind, I’ve felt that journey come into focus, and the perfect moment has begun to fade, to be replaced by a much richer reality, that has been both hard earned and truly appreciated. What I have learned, also, to let go of, is exactly how I am supposed to be making that moment happen – and to focus instead on the quite incredible twists life takes to get me there. Because I know too, in my heart, that when I finally live that image, it will look and feel different to what I think it will now – and that will be fine, it will be better than fine, because whatever that moment brings will be a gift, just as all those before it have been.
On the weekend I talked about that journey, the one from the visions which seed our dreams, to the plants into which they grow.
The next morning, I woke to a full day of the most intense insecurity I have suffered in a long time, self recrimination running like a record across my brain: I’d missed a paragraph in my talk; I was visibly nervous on stage; I didn’t look my best.
An endless litany of reproach and inadequacy.
But beneath it all lay the true reason for my fears: I’d just stood on a stage and pretty much bared my soul.
And so I asked myself – what was I waiting for? Who’s approbation?
It was then that I had to smile, because the lost paragraph, the one I had somehow forgotten on stage when I had NEVER forgotten it during rehearsals, leaped into my mind. So I will share it with you here:
There is no external measure which can judge that we are, or have, or have done, enough. Only we, ourselves, can do that – and I believe we must begin doing that, if we are to create a more resilient, sustainable, and compassionate society.
I realised I was still waiting for someone to tell me that what I had said was ‘enough’. And yet the whole world could have told me, and I still would have wondered if they were right, or not.
So I looked in the mirror and I asked myself: “Was what you said enough? Was it enough for you?”
And the answer came in thought, and it was this: It is enough for now.
There is so much life to live, so many moments to have, so much I still want to do. But I will never again forget the importance of knowing, in each of those moments, that it is enough. It is always enough. And the more we love those moments, and feel the joy and value of them, the more those moments will come. And come they do, whether we want them to or not – for those moments are our life.
What a waste of those precious pieces of life, what a disservice we do, when we question if we, or they, or anyone or anything, is enough. We do not judge the sea as imperfect because a storm passes over it, nor perfect because of one sunny day.
Nothing lasts. Nothing finishes. Nothing is perfect.
Have a beautiful moment. xx