Boy does it feel good to push away from the computer and let go of trying to manage the Universe with a mouse.
A few days ago I’d gotten myself into a stretch of three or four hours of nonstop pumping out of various links, messages, exhortations and tweets all designed to move the masses to the the Patio Theater a couple Sundays from now to celebrate the premiere of The Golden Age of Wild Chicago digital release and DVD. Adrenaline was rushing through my body as new ideas flashed in my brain every two seconds: Where should I send this link, which Facebook fan page would best respond to this testimonial video, what next great turn of phrase will be the perfect motivator to get those butts in the seats? My heart was pounding. The sensation was not pleasurable. I felt as if I had blinders on and I couldn’t get off the ride. Then something caught my eye. Oh look! A message!
It was from my friend Valerie. I click on it. Boom. The simplicity of her message was stunning: “Chill, Ben,” it read. “We’re going to pack the house.”
Wow. Could it be that she had picked up on that manic energy in my electronic missives? That perhaps she had even smelt ever so faintly that which I would never want anyone to smell on me – desperation? Why else would she have implored me to “chill”? That’s what you say to someone who’s freaking out, right? To someone who’s panicking, obsessing, spinning, flailing.
Valerie, you busted me.
And with that admission came peace. I immediately knew I’d been touched by an angel. (Loved that show back in the 90s.) As hard as I’d tried during this DVD launch to stay centered, calm, measured, I had slipped into that nasty old place of being motivated by fear. You can call it “stress” if you like, but for me – in my quest to continuously boil a thing down to its essence – it’s fear. Fear that I won’t have a “big enough” crowd there. Fear that a small audience will reflect poorly on me. Fear that I’m ridiculous in trying to foist this dusty old TV show onto an uninterested, indifferent public. And the list goes on. Fear comes in many flavors.
Better to chill. Because for me, chill means relax, breathe deeply and have faith.
Shortly after taking some time away from the campaign to hang on my bed with Walker the cat, I returned to the computer. There, on the Patio Theater Facebook page was a posting specifically promoting our Wild Chicago event. I’d seen it before but there was something new I hadn’t noticed before. It was this: the posting had collected 78 “Likes” and 40 “Shares.”
I took it in slowly and smiled. I took in another deep, healing breath.
What I was looking at was evidence that I was not in charge of the Universe after all. Things were happening, good things, without my unrelenting clicking, copying and pasting. Hundreds, if not thousands, of eyeballs were seeing my message thanks to the helpful hands of others. Perhaps Valerie was right. Maybe we would fill the place. 500 butts is what I’d been talking about wanting in those seats. I didn’t dare think we could fill all 1000 seats. But why the heck not?! That truly would be an Act of God.
So what’s the lesson? Worry, fear, stress – it matters not what you call it – the results are the same: fatigue, tightness, constraint, dis-ease. That’s not living the W.I.L.D. Life. The W.I.L.D. Life – the “What I love doing” life – means going with the flow. Just like in Nature. And I can trust that that’s exactly the best course of action I can take, as long as I show up and do my part to the best of my ability. The outcome is not in my hands. Even if only 10 butts show up, they will be the perfect butts, the ones that were meant to be there. And all will be good.
So thanks, Valerie, for so directly suggesting I chill. And feel free to send me a reminder next time you pick up that nasty scent of fear again.