Today's Draw Classic*: Eight of Nature from the Tarot of the Origins. What have you always wanted that you've never managed to get? Why do you think you don't have it? And what would you be willing to do to get it?
Many believe the largest organism on earth is a tree. Not a Redwood or a Sequoia, but an Aspen. See, what seems to be an entire grove of Aspens is really just one organism, derived from the same original seedling, with new shoots/trees popping up over time. A single tree in the colony may live up to 150 years. But the root system...the colony itself...is thought to live tens of thousands of years. The largest of the Aspens, named Pando, is located in Utah, covers over 100 acres and weighs 6000 tons. It's rumored be anywhere from 80,000 to a million years old. To put that in perspective, homo sapiens existed only in Africa 80,000 years ago. And that Aspen is AT LEAST 80,000 years old. It beat man to Utah by at least 30,000 years.
The Aspen teaches us that building something big, strong and enduring takes time. The amenities of our modern world have done us a disservice in that they condition us to expect immediate results. They make us impatient. And so when we try to build a career or a relationship or change in life, we decide that we've "failed" or that "it's not working" before we've given it a fair chance. Of course, giving something a fair chance shouldn't be confused with sticking with a losing proposition until it drags you into the ground. But our dreams, the things we hunger for, deserve to be built slowly on a foundation as firm as the Aspen's.
Every once in a while I'll come across someone who spends their life in regret because they tried many things and failed each time. Or I'll meet someone who is looking for a quick answer in their life. Or someone will look at my cushy job and say they wish they could do what I do. But if they were honest, all those people would really be saying, "I'm not willing to do what it takes to have that thing I want."
I remember in the early years of my career I was an administrative person in the creative department of an advertising agency, helping the copywriters I wanted to be.... for three years. Then I worked in horrific retail jobs writing headlines like "SALE 29.99 No-Iron Slacks" for four years. Then I finally got a job doing what I wanted to do in an advertising agency. Over the first 10 years of my career I cultivated contacts and a portfolio, ultimately going into business myself. The difference between me and all the other people who wanted to do what I wanted to do but never made it, is that I never gave up. Many writers had much easier paths than I did. I didn't get those breaks. In many cases, I just wasn't as talented as they were, frankly. But I never gave up. I wanted it that much.
The difference between you and the people who have what you want is that they were willing to do something you're not willing to do to get it. Sometimes that means taking a lower paying job. Putting up with awful working conditions. Working for years without advancement. Making sacrifices of time, family, relationships or other things of value. Or simply putting in your time and paying your dues.
Anytime I see myself looking over the fence at someone with a more sparkling career or relationship or whatever, I can't bring myself to be jealous. I can't tell myself that they're just lucky or they had different opportunities or anything like that. Because the truth is that they were willing to do what it took to get it. And so far I haven't been. We really can't blame our regrets about things like this on anything other than ourselves, imo. I know that sounds harsh, but it was seven years before I got the job I went into business to get. Seven very poorly paid years working way below my capability and talent level. It never once occurred to me to give up.
The good news is that, if you're reading this, you're probably not too old to go after that thing you still want. I'm going after a new dream and I'm 48. I know it will take years to build. I'm willing to put in that time and make that effort. But this isn't just about careers. I've been working on my psychic development for 25 years. Same with my spiritual development and personal growth. I'm still working on all that and will be until the day I die, because I want to be the best, most authentic person I can be. I want to do my soul proud.
On the other side of the fence, I had someone recently remind me that if I had put the effort into finding a gentleman companion that I put into the five million little side projects that I always have going on in my life, I'd also have a successful love life. If I focused on weight loss the way I focus on these blogs every day, I'd be four sizes smaller. If I put the effort into caring for my home that I put into Facebook, I'd have a spotless home. But I don't. And there's nothing to blame outside of myself for that. I accept that.
Although you wouldn't know it by looking at an individual shoot, its leaves quaking vulnerably in the wind, the Aspen puts out a complex network of roots and shoots, breaking ground here and there until one day it's the largest, most enduring single organism on the planet. This is how we build anything worth having, imo. So if you have what you want in life—whether it's your family, your friends, your self development or your career—recognize all the work it took to build and be proud of that. And if you're still working toward something truly worth having, persist. If you're willing to do what it takes to get it, you will.
*Today's entry is a reprise of the one posted on 7/13/11.