Years ago, there was an ad (Nike?) that I just loved. It read:
You are born. And oh, how you wail! Your first breath is a scream. Not timid or low, but selfish and shattering, with all the force of waiting nine months under water. Your whole life should be like that: An announcement.
I tore it out when I saw it and plastered it on my vision wall in my bedroom, my eyes focused on those words: an announcement. Could I live my life like an announcement? And would the way I lived my life be worthy of an announcement?
I am reminded of that ad when I watch my three-year-old son, in his full self-possession, move through the world. He is irrepressible, embodied joy -- electric. He, indeed, lives his life as an announcement. He's not scared to make an announcement and he is certainly not scared that his announcement isn't good enough. ust by being, his announcement is special, he reminds me.
Every single child begins that way -- we all begin self-possessed and confident about our announcement. All of us come into this world playing big, not small. We don't suppress our cries or laughs or joys. We don't think badly of ourselves. We live life as an announcement and what we have to announce feels worthy, valuable, like a gift to the world.
But, too often, somewhere on the way to adulthood, something shifts. Our sense of our own brilliance fades. Our understanding of our own beauty dims. Our announcement is quieted. Maybe it was the media that overwhelmed us. With instant access to information, with thousands of images shot at us every day, maybe we digested and internalized too much of the scrutiny. Maybe it was an unintended slight that stung us or a comment that someone delivered flippantly that we have held onto forever. Maybe it was not being chosen for this or being ignored by them, maybe it was a loss so significant that it still seems like our soul is empty from it. Maybe it was the way our body matured into adulthood that felt like a betrayal, or the way that it didn't.
Whatever it may have been that stole away that central understanding of our inner and outer brilliance, I refuse to believe that we can't get it back. And, even more than that, I believe it is crucial that we, in fact, do get it back. The world's needs are too great and each of us has some role we are meant to be playing in addressing them. For every minute that any one of us spends distracted by some belief we have that we are not good enough, that we are not already what this world needs right now, that's another minute that the world remains unhealed. And the world's needs are too significant and our gifts too important to solving its problems for anyone of us not to be doing what we are meant to be doing.
For any one of us to play small means our world stays broken. For every minute we spend in the mirror, lamenting what's wrong with us, the world's wrongs keep spinning by. For everything left unsaid, the people most meant to hear that message are denied even longer. It is all cyclical and all of our announcements are a necessary part of our process.
And, so today, I want you to ask yourself this critical question: What is your announcement?
By announcement I don't mean some big glaring statement that you have to scream. You can be an introvert and have an announcement. You are being given, over and over again, an audience of one. Every single person in this world is going to sit down in front of you and give you the time you need to make your announcement. What is it you must make sure each person knows? What do you need him to understand? What do you need her to grasp?
My announcement, boiled down and stripped bare is this: The world needs each one of us as an essential element in its healing -- in our healing. And to do that, we must get on with our own healing, live our passion and purpose and give our gifts to the world. We must begin administering our particular brand of CPR to the world and its suffering.
What is your announcement? Or even if you don't know all of it, what is the beginning of it?
Here is what I know for sure: The closer each one of us gets to living our announcement, to healing the world in the way we were meant to be healing, the closer we get to the world we are meant to have and the further and further away we get from the mirror and our critique of ourselves. Because when we are fully living our announcement, we don't have time to be paralyzed.