“It seems we run our lives like trains, speeding along a track laid down by others, going so fast that what we pass blurs by… So, no matter how many wonderful opportunities come my way, no matter the importance placed on these things by others who have my best interests at heart, I must somehow find a way to slow down the train that is me until what I pass by is again seeable, touchable and feel-able.”
-Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening
Last January I spoke at a workshop for a hundred people in my business organization, and gave each attendee a gift: A silver bracelet engraved with the words, Do What’s Right For You and Love People. The bracelet encapsulated not only my theme for the workshop, but was intended to remind participants of the life-long process of sorting out what matters most. It was a challenge to courageously choose to always do what’s right for us, while giving to others the love, respect and acceptance they deserve.
If you’re scratching your head over part of that sentence, you’re not alone. While just about everyone was warmly drawn to those words, their heads nodding in agreement, some felt uncomfortable about fully embracing this way of looking at life and relationships. This extended to the artisan who crafted the silver bracelets.
The person making the bracelets texted me a picture of the engraved prototype, and, here’s how it read: Do What’s Right For Others and Love People.
Instantly, I knew what had happened. While fulfilling the order, the artist had unconsciously drifted into that default storyline that we all carry inside of us: Life’s highest calling is to always do what’s right for others, lest we appear uncaring, selfish, and, God forbid, we drop like a rock into that all-too-familiar anguish we mistakenly label as guilt.
When I reminded her of the exact wording I had requested (as I am often asked to do when giving this message), I could sense her hesitation through the phone: “Seriously? Who says that?” Then, she graciously conceded, “Well, I think you’re right. I’ll make the change.”
So, I will keep reminding us – myself included – of this life of discernment. You are here to be yourself, but never at the expense of others. With honesty and humility, you can understand the purpose of your own incarnation; and with courage and persistence you will do what’s right for you and love people.