Friday, March 19, 2010

Reticence

It came to me yesterday, not for the first time but in one of those fine moments of clarity where things come unexpectedly into focus, that virtually every leap forward in my life has come as a result of my having had to confront some reticence, or prejudice, or fear. It happened most recently with the publication of "Persist," in that week before my first speaking engagement at Th Inside Edge. I was all set to do what I have usually done in such a circumstance: write out a script from which I would be able to read. Then I read the letter I had received, inviting me to speak. It said quite clearly: "Please do not read. Our members are sophisticated listeners; they do not like to hear speakers read prepared speeches." Time to panic...! You know the rest of this story. I have been enjoying this new medium every since.

But this was only the most recent example. As I was speaking yesterday in my friend Stuart’s class, as I do every semester, I heard myself repeat the joke that so often gets a laugh: I describe something—a workshop, a retreat, a challenge of any kind—as the last thing in the world I want to do, explaining the reasons for my reticence and the fear that accompanies it. And then I add, “So then of course, I immediately signed on.” And whenever that happens in my life, the adventure starts anew, there’s some huge lesson to be learned, some new step forward to be taken, some new freedom waiting to be seized.

So these days I find it useful to watch out for those moments where every fiber of my being says, No, don’t go there; or, No, I don’t like that, because I know that this is nothing more nor less than a signal that I need to pay attention. My fears and prejudices, I understand, are there to protect me. But sometimes I don’t need their protection. Sometimes it’s better to take the risk, jump in, and find out that much more about those deep, reactive patterns that can govern my life and limit my opportunities without my even being aware of them. Because when I do, the reward is always infinitely greater than the risk.

2 comments:

Gillian said...

Hi there Peter, i know what you mean. Steven Pressfield writes well about this in his book The War of Art. I am currently facing this challenge through entering The Next Top Spiritual Author. Not only do I have to put myself out there as an author, but a huge part of the comp involves 'shameless' self promotion which is new to me and scarey. However, while Life is eternal, the chapters are short and i've got to mine this one for all it's worth and enjoy all that entails. Good luck with promoting Persist.

PeterAtLarge said...

Thanks for the thoughts, Gillian. I have sent you an offline email. Cheers, Peter