True desire is where everything begins.
I have a story to share with you about decorating my living room that isn't really about decorating my living room. It's about a miracle. It's about getting unstuck. It's about your career, your marriage, your weight, or maybe your living room.
I had been looking at my living room for months, feeling meh on the high end of the spectrum, and I am suffering a small plague on the other. Hoping for creative ideas, I started looking at houses online, even homes in other states. It felt a little bit like scoping out Match.com while your husband gropes through the refrigerator, commenting on how you could arrange the shelves differently. Romantic walks on beaches. I'd be checking out the dimensions of that living room, then noticing my own. I quickly learned, that every living room looks great with 900-foot ceilings or wall to wall windows and an ocean view. I have neither.
Paul, my partner, started dreaming about ripping up the ceiling and creating a loft above. Awesome, but way beyond what my overwhelmed mind and bank account had in mind. Realizing that really remodeling was just creating stress, Paul offered magic words: "What if there's just one simple thing you can do, just to change the energy? What if there's one thing that starts moving us in the right direction?" So I started looking around and imagining a new shade of paint, couch, or an unusual light fixture. But nothing clicked.
I felt tangled and impatient, a bad combination for courting revelations. Maybe you've felt this, with more important life decisions: I wanted change, but I didn't want to put time into it. I wanted change, but I didn't want to put money into it. I wanted change, but I didn't even know what I really wanted to do. Pity our psychotherapists and God.
So I returned to my original desire. I want this room to feel great to me. That's all I knew. "Don't think about this room," Paul suggested. "Just think about what would feel like what you want."
I started thinking about what did feel great. I have a back room, an extension to our home built back in the 1920s. I love its energy. It's got a quirky, formidable, black wood burning stove on its own little brick platform. But the best part of that room is an entire wall of exposed brick, uneven texture and happiness, worn solidity and a poetic karma you can't find in new construction. I fell in love with that room years ago, winking its old house charm at me. It's why I bought the house.
"I'd love something like that, an exposed brick wall," I said to Paul, as though he could magically order one up out of a Home Beautiful catalog and have it shipped or maybe blink his eyes like a cartoon genie. It was preposterous. True desires often are.
But you know how when you start to focus on something you want, you start to notice all the reasons you want it? I began to notice movie scenes with people who had cool lives and living rooms. They often had exposed brick walls. Naturally this meant they had superior conversations, cheese, sex, iPads and income levels. It was just subliminal shorthand.
One day, standing in the living room, I was again talking to Paul about painting walls. Paul looked like he wasn't listening (which by the way would never happen to people who lived in cool living rooms). He was staring at the fireplace in the living room and the large plaster wall (which I'd painted purple, "blueberry yogurt" says a friend) above it. It jutted out from the rest of the blueberry yogurt walls. "You know," he began. "That wall that juts out is probably plaster over the chimney to the fireplace." He stared intently. "Mmm," I said as though he was beginning to explain the periodic tables to me, when, really, I was more interested in end tables.
"Well, if it is the original chimney to the house, then it's probably brick." I still didn't follow his thinking yet, because, there is the small possibility that I was too busy judging him. So he spelled it out. "If we break off that plaster wall, you might have an exposed brick wall."
Could it be? I was afraid to get my hopes up. But even the thought of the possibility was a rush. We decided to try our theory. We have a large wooden Buddha face from a Thai temple who hangs on the wall above the fireplace. We decided to poke a tiny hole in the plaster wall, figuring that even if we were wrong, Buddha could hide the emptiness and imperfection. It seemed appropriate.
Paul chipped away a hole, kind of like a baby bird pecking through a shell. Sure enough, there was a tiny hint of red brick, a rustic ruby, peeking back at us from the hole. It was like a bindi, the holy red dot on an Indian woman's forehead, and to me, it was every bit as devotional. I gasped. My crazy, improbable desire might actually come true.
The next day, after an all-day meeting, I came home to find Paul covered in the white dust of plaster. He looked like a crazed baker. He smiled at me as I beheld his "cake." We had an exposed brick wall above the fireplace. Worn out brick. Textured brick. Brick that changed the whole vibe of the living room, even more than I imagined. I couldn't believe it. Who needed a fantasy genie or a stinking catalog? Real life was the real miracle.
The answer had been there all along. It had always been there. I've lived in this house for 17 years. It's always been there. This house is over 100 years old. Really, it's always been there. But I never would have discovered it if I kept looking at the room I thought was there. In A Course in Miracles, there is the teaching that a miracle is about "undoing the blocks to the awareness of love's presence." In English, that means a miracle, the presence of a loving perspective or resolution, is always present. But you have a belief in the way. You have an assumption in the way. You have a way of seeing in the way. I had a thick purple plaster wall in the way.
I was trying to decorate the room I believed existed. But it was only when I asked what I really wanted that I found a direction that had wings. It wasn't about fitting a solution into my existing circumstances. It was about finding an answer or direction that changed my existing circumstances. So, are you ready to design your life? Never mind your current situation. What do you really want?
As a creative career and success coach, I see this repeatedly. I ask someone, "What do you love to do?" They tell me "I have an MBA and I'm in advertising." Or "I'm a paralegal." They tell me what they've been. What they're trained for. Their age. They do not tell me about the destiny that is hunting them down. They do not initially admit that they'd like to leave it all and ride an elephant in Thailand. They do not mention the movie script that runs in their veins. Or their instinct to start a foundation.
"What do you love?" I ask. They treat me like I'm pretending to be Santa Claus, despite the fact that I am Jewish as well as serious as chicken soup about this question. I know that their real desire is the only way we will ever find the truth. The truth is there. The truth has energy to take them into the fierce lives in which they belong. Every limit they believe is true, will bow before the real truth within them. There is a truth. There is always a truth.
There is always a brick wall underneath your plaster. There is always the presence of everything you want, covered by the familiar. It's waiting for you. It's been there all along. There's an astonishment beneath your confusion and habitual way of thinking. There is another way to see this situation. Let go of your grip on what you think the situation is. There is always love awaiting you, beyond every single fear.
Hey, want to discover more about YOUR true desire? Join me for a FREE coaching call "Your Desire is Your Destiny: How to Get There!" on May 13th (or sign up to get the recording) It's my gift to you, awesome one. Who else do you know that might enjoy/need this? Please share the mojo because we want to create a world where everyone is doing what they're meant to do. "See" you there!
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