The importance of connections is a central theme within all of the articles I have written for this column. Of all the connections we have, the most important one is with the one we sleep with every night of our life—our self. As a child, like many, I was told I could be anything I wanted. Encouraged to grow and make my place in this world, I believed it.
My grades, personal accomplishments, military experience, double major in college, career achievements, business ownership, financial success, and much more were all strong indicators of a deep rooted belief and self-confidence. I sincerely believed I could do anything I desired if I put a reasonable amount of effort into my goal. Somehow, I lost my innocence, got off track, and became lost.
There are a number of things which occurred over a short span of time that severely shook up my world and allowed doubts to creep in. Once a crack formed in the fortress, the water from the moat poured in and broke it wide open. Somewhere in there, I found myself no longer safe in the beliefs I had once held so tightly–the ones that had shaped my very being. I questioned everything and nothing seemed real or even possible. My very foundation was compromised and left me no longer knowing where I fit in the world or if I even cared to be a part of it. It took all I had to keep from drowning.
Without a center, I was lost for a long while. Questioning my purpose, who I am, my values, what I care about, and what truly matters, made me feel as though my very foundation had crumbled from underneath me. The flood waters had eroded the stone to sand. I am not ready to claim I have figured it all out. Hell, I think much will be less controlled, contained or forced, enabling me to adapt and move freely as I go through different phases of life.
I also believe this might be a healthier position to take. I never want to hold something so closely that I could become lost again without it. However, I feel like I am being given another opportunity at life; an opportunity in my attempt to apply the wisdom that experience has offered. Perhaps, having a foundation more suitable to the ebb and flow of life will be more enduring and meaningful.
There is a very old fig tree on a piece of property I have enjoyed doing some intensive gardening on for several years. The tree is a twisted, gnarled mess. What I have been able to witness over the years is it will occasionally produce a new shoot. If allowed to thrive it will receive nourishment from the strong and established roots. They are not brand new trees having to grow roots to provide a foundation. The roots already exist. The new sprouts come from the established root. As a result the new shoot of the tree is often able to flourish at a much higher rate than the older portion.
Sometimes, a part of the old tree dies off as the new shoot takes over. Though its unsightly appearance makes it undeniable to miss, the substantial growth and amount of figs it produces is amazing. It bears some of the most delightfully sweet fruit imaginable.
Ridding the deadwood is a daunting task. Some branches can be thick and long-standing and have offered shade and/or bore fruit for a significant length of time making them hard to cut. One may have held a tire swing which brought great pleasure and enduring memories causing some sadness in having to clear it. Regardless of the memories or difficulties to cut it, doing so allows for a much healthier growth to take place.
The pruning is essential to the life of the tree. Without removing the dead wood the entire tree is in jeopardy and could die. It removes the danger of it dying off to the point of killing the entire root system and the possibility of preventing both current and future growth.
While I was lost for a time and even thought life would kill me; I am realizing, like that old fig tree, it was necessary in preparing me for a new emergence. Soaking in the nutrients of the experiences and lessons I have learned has created conditions for a massive upward growth spurt. I have found the more I have endured and survived, the stronger, wiser, and more determined I have become.
I recently heard or read somewhere that “wisdom is healed pain.” I’m not certain all wisdom must be collected through pain; but I can tell you there is a significant amount that can be gathered from it. A child quickly learns not to touch the hot stove when burned. To not learn from such an experience would certainly be foolish. Unfortunately, sometimes we are foolish. Why do we sometimes continue to repeat the same things over hoping for a different result? Psychology teaches we will continue setting up conditions, even if with different teachers, to offer the same lesson until it is learned. Who wants to repeat the painful lessons? I believe it far more prudent to learn from it, heal, and move forward.
Perhaps, it is due to being lost, wandering, and soul searching while being presented with the same lessons over and over that has convinced me that trying to change the lesson is pointless. The teacher is only presenting the reality of the lesson and delivering the message life has sent you.
The universe is a powerful teacher who will up the ante to increasingly painful realities should you fail to learn those lessons early. Each lesson compounds until it breaks you for failing to believe the first lesson presented. Hardheadedness and/or genuine heart is not an acceptable excuse to have the lesson altered. If it is taught, it is best to recognize it quickly before investing so much time and energy into something you are destined to learn–one way or another!
Thankfully, I am finally reaching the point in being able to accept the lessons offered even in the courses I am not interested in taking. It would be easy for me to be bitter for having to take the required classes. However, I understand in order to enroll in those courses I desire the prerequisites must be passed. I could despise the teacher but the reality is they are simply the presenter and it is what they are there to do.
As an intense observer of others, it can be a painful reality when I think of how blind and dense I can be in the study of myself. Once the lesson is finally learned it is plain to see how I could have seen it all along had I just been willing to open my eyes. Yet, there is a lesson within itself here, one in which I believe will take me back to my roots and is returning me to what I believed long ago. When I am connected with myself at the core, and approach life by engaging in activities which are healthy for me, I find myself rapidly believing again that I am worthy and can accomplish anything in which I desire to pursue.
Though I may have questioned much about my internal beliefs and how they were to be expressed, I believe at the core they are very much the same. The foundation is still solid and the rebuilding upon it is safe. It is who I am and moreover, who I want to be, as I continue to make my place within this world. I believe we are destined for far more than what we, at times, allow ourselves to believe.
There are quality lessons to be learned even when taught by malicious and mean spirited teachers. Accept them for what they are, learn the lesson, and move on to the courses that bring you happiness. As we study our self, we can connect spiritually to our soul and feed that which tells us–we can be who we want to be and achieve what we desire.
From this day forward, join me in following Og Mandino’s advice, “Welcome every morning with a smile. Look on the new day as another special gift from your Creator, another golden opportunity to complete what you were unable to finish yesterday. Be a self-starter. Let your first hour set the theme of success and positive action that is certain to echo through your entire day. Today will never happen again. Don’t waste it with a false start of no start at all. You were not born to fail.”
Make it count!
George Scott is a man of many talents and careers. Currently he is an aspiring artist in the art of communication, building community, and connecting. Although he has formal educational training, he prefers to learn his life lessons from the school of hard knocks. He is currently working on a third bachelors degree in rebuilding, rejuvenating and inspiring others. George can be found as the man on the street happily making new friends and sharing his wealth with the world. If you would like to contact him email [email protected]