If you haven't yet surrendered your dreams, I know you face a big problem.
"Big problem?" you say, as you whip out your list of all the big problems blocking your dreams. "Try this for big problem!"
I get it. The list's endless.
And I just want to be heard saying, "I respect that list of yours. I do." I know how complicated it can be to bring dreams to life, and the myriad obstacles they always seem to conjure.
But me, I seem to be on a reductionist jag these days, interested in the one thing, and in particular the one thing's one/off switch, that can move a whole multitude of problems if flipped the other way.
The One Thing
If there has to be one, it would have to be your willingness to suffer. Willingness to suffer, unwillingness to suffer. On/off, on/off.
Some call the willingness to suffer by another name, a willingness to tolerate discomfort: to tolerate the feeling you get when you delay gratification, or dig into details, or conversely go with the flow, or stand to speak or sit to contemplate. It's whatever brings on your personal angst and which you avoid like the plague.
The one thing is that. Your willingness to suffer that.
We've gotten good at avoiding suffering, because we're very, very practiced.
And so practiced, and so good that we've become dulled to the larger truth that we're continually opting for the less-in-life over the more because it comes at the price of this suffering.
Our choice for the lesser shows when we dutifully cross things off our list in a bid toward productivity, but cross off the easy (and wrong) things, or jump in to what needs doing, but exit prematurely. Or have "just one" of the thing we shouldn't have at all, or skip the commitment "just this once," or sign off on good enough when what we wanted was everything.
And if we paid attention at just those moments, we'd discover the same action operating over and over. We'd have a front row view of the quick-step evasion of our legitimate suffering, and the ongoing sabotage of our dreams.
A Different Way
Because forward motion toward our goals requires the embrace of suffering - when what's required in any given moment is not what's desired in any given moment - it's useful to develop a different relationship to suffering.
A more informed one.
Most of us have lost a direct and meaningful intimacy with our suffering because of this habit of side-stepping. We don't really experience our suffering anymore; we briefly experience our made up story of our suffering, one grown so large and encompassing we feel lucky to have escaped alive.
What if instead we paused whenever we felt a suffering coming on, whenever we were faced with a discomfort borne of the clash between our desire and the "ought to" of the moment.
What would we experience, and would it in truth be intolerable?
What if we let the discomfort just be, experienced it fully emotionally and physically? What if we replaced fear with curiosity, and learned a thing or two about the mechanism that separates us from so much we in truth long for?
We Just Might...
We just might discover that our suffering is also spacious, fluid and suggestive: more pliable, and vastly different than the specter we conjure and avoid.
We just might in fact discover that our suffering will yield with not much effort, if effort's applied in the right direction.
And we just might discover that the embrace of our suffering is in fact an embrace of our very selves, and every movement toward our dreams an opportunity to declare, act on and bring to life who we in fact are, and who we would be.