You may have noticed in recent weeks I’ve often tagged my tweets and Facebook posts with the hashtag #LiveWideAwake.
That’s because after all these years of working with coaching clients, I’ve concluded the thing people (including me) have struggled with most is waking up.
Of course I don’t mean literally “waking up” ~ as in don’t even think about talking to me before I get my coffee! (That’s important too, though. Seriously: Don’t talk to me before I get my coffee.) I mean waking up to the wonder and possibility of your life. I mean shaking yourself awake from the hazy, half-alive dream in which most people live their entire lives. In the years we live, we take on a series of roles and tasks that are handed to us as though they are the only possibilities that exist for our lives. School, graduation, job, marriage, kids, mortgage, retirement, death. You know the path as well as I do. We walk it out without the slightest question of why it matters, whether it’s God’s best for us or the world, or whether it’s really the life we want to create, and then wonder why when we reach middle age we so often discover the life we’ve built on autopilot isn’t really the life we wanted to live. Saint Augustine nailed it when he said:
“People travel to wonder at the height of the mountains, at the huge waves of the seas, at the long course of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars, and yet they pass by themselves without wondering.”
Many people I coach come to me suddenly asking, Why isn’t my life working out like I hoped? They followed the script they were given; wasn’t that supposed to be enough? But regardless of whatever specific challenge they’re facing ~ career, family, faith, etc. ~ their struggle always seems to come back to the same fundamental question:
What does it look like to be fully alive?
The answer is different for everybody, of course ~ what makes me come fully alive might scare the crap out of you, or worse yet, bore you to tears. But underneath the specifics of each soul’s unique expression of life, there’s a common thread of desire we all share, a common experience we all want to have, and that all of us regularly struggle to find.
It is life fully lived. It’s a life of excitement and adventure, yes, but it isn’t only that. It’s about learning to be fully here, right now, and not always running from one thing to the next. It’s about really listening, not only to other people, but to your own soul, and to the world itself. It’s about intentionally creating something with the time you have and what you’ve been given, and not just bouncing along on the surface of your life like a ping pong ball in a windstorm. It’s about discovering what love and grace and laughter and faith can really accomplish when they are unleashed through you.
I’ve made it a big part of my life’s work to help other people find this vibrant, living flow within the core of their heart, and recreate their lives around that pure, singular, calling. Turns out most of the time it’s not so much about making grand new plans or blowing up the life you’ve already built. It’s more about changing the way you engage your life every day. It’s about changing the way you look at things, which of course changes what you see. Like one of my mentors, John O’Donohue, once said,
“Most people are so consumed with questions like ‘What should I do?’ or ‘Where should I live?’, when what they really ought to be asking is ‘How should I live?'”
Perhaps this LIVE WIDE AWAKE Manifesto is my attempt to answer that question for myself. I hope it inspires you. Please do pass it along to anyone and everyone you think might be encouraged by it.
I’ve got a few different versions. Pick the one you like best. Or take ’em all!