Directly or Obliquely?
Lately, I’ve been thinking a great deal about goals and dreams. Goals and dreams for my photography, my creativity, my life. I’ve been pondering what I want and where I want to be. Reflecting on where I’m headed. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say where I want to head. As I look back on many of the goals and dreams I’ve achieved up to this point in my life, they’ve been tackled quite head-on. I’ve focused on them in the utmost of direct ways.
Yet, I find myself using lots of self-talk that includes statements like these…Trust the process, and Max Ehrmann’s assertion, No doubt the Universe is unfolding as it should. If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you also know I’m fond of saying, Universe, do your thing! As I then reflect on these statements of assurance, trust, and faith, I can’t help but notice that they don’t exactly jive with my previous (and okay, current) steadfast and resolute manner of striving and directly working toward what I want. I think I’m having a bit of an inner conflict about these two modes, about working toward my dreams and allowing trust in the unfolding of my life and experience.
Coincidentally*, I’ve heard two talks recently about this very issue. One came from Wayne Dyer’s audiobook on the Tao Te Ching, where Dyer is discussing his interpretation of one of the verses. To summarize briefly, Dyer is stating that the Tao Te Ching teaches us to let go, implores us to not strive, and that by doing so, we will have what we need. The other message came from a talk at my awesome, incredibly inclusive, liberal church. Jim, the head minister, was talking about obliquity, the idea that certain things are only achieved as a side-effect or by-product of doing something else. In other words, coming at a goal or desire obliquely. This concept was recently written about by the economist, John Kay, but it has been used previously in psychological circles. To wit, happiness is not really achieved by working to be happy, rather it is a by-product of doing what you love, engaging in meaningful activities.
I think these messages were indeed signs from the Universe, and that they co-incided with one another for a reason. I’m beginning to see that the path is to directly focus on what I love and what brings me joy, while also having clear intentions and desires. And I’m coming around to trust by doing just that, the by-product, the side-effect will obliquely arise. No doubt the Universe is unfolding as it should (re-stated for better “sinking in” purposes and my own internalization). But I realize I have a ways to go before this inner conflict settles down. I’m hoping these two approaches, directly and obliquely, can integrate in my mind and heart, and that my capacity for trust expands.
What about you–do you approach your dreams and goals directly or obliquely? Do you trust that Universe is unfolding as it should, or do you assert control over your destiny?
*Dyer talks about the ways in which we have corrupted the meaning of the word “coincidence” to refer to two things happening accidentally or by chance, when really it stems from mathematics and refers to two things fitting perfectly together–two things co-inciding.