11/30/2012 10:31 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Ah, the Dreams of Life -- and the Fiscal Cliff


Balancing one's dreams and drives with the harsh realities of life can be a challenge, right? For most of my life, for example, I have lived with big dreams. I have dreamt of being famous, of making history, of writing widely read books, of speaking before large crowds. And all of this before having my lunch.

But then, there is my life as it really is -- my "real" life with it's ordinariness. For me, my growth edge has been in learning how to let life to evolve and unfold instead of neurotically attempting to control all of life, as well as its evolution. What I'm discovering is that it is infinitely more satisfying to let life be than to live with the haunting fear that time is running out and my dreams have not all come true.

Carl Jung used to say, "while we may be the protagonist of our own lives, we are also the extras or spear carriers in some larger drama..."

What did he mean?

That life -- your life and mine -- unfolds in ways that neither you nor I could ever completely control. Much less understand. In other words, we dream of doing but then make the discovery that it seems we're only being done. That we seem to be, in someone else's words, "destined to make choices."

Ah, the ambiguity of life. Maybe it's different for you but, in the last few years, I've found myself learning something of the mystery expressed in Walt Whitman's words,

"I exist as I am, and that is enough,
If no other in the world be aware I sit content,
And if each and all be aware I sit content.
One world is aware, and by far the largest to me, and
That is myself.
So whether I come to my own today or in ten
Thousand or ten million years,
I can cheerfully take it now, or with equal
Cheerfulness, I can wait."

Can I? Can you?

I've often wondered whether the secret to happiness is discovered in the capacity to wait. And, whether the secret to waiting is discovered in losing yourself in the only life that is-your life as it is right now, in this present moment.

Congress threatens the "fiscal cliff." Violence, bloodshed, hatred and disregard for the planet threatens the future of humanity. We have some big, big problems we're not handling so well. And because of this, I find it's so easy to be upset by all of tomorrow's uncertainties. Hopes squashed. Dreams unfulfilled. It's too easy to be so uptight over the unpredictability of the future. Could I be thinking too much, worrying too much, trying too hard to make my future fulfilling, secure, happy? To that degree, anyway, that I have lost my connectedness to today -- to the only life I really have -- life as it is for me in this present moment?

Follow your own heart, my friend. But today, I'm going to relax. To relish this moment. It's all I have. It's everything it needs to be. And, it is, in the words of the poet, "eternity in the palm of my hand."

Or, is it me in the palm of Eternity's hand?

Either way, what could be more important than this?

Oh, I know, there's the fiscal cliff!