The work, the task, the hero's journey, in every age for everyone is the same across time and space. It comes down to this: Being true to ourselves-- exhibiting, expressing, serving our original nature, with the gifts/daemon/virtues/ specialties/knacks/preferences/ genius/etc. that come with us from the womb-- within the circumstances of the times and place of our living. If you think that is easy, climb into the ring with it, and see if you can last three minutes of the opening round. The good news is that it doesn't ever get more difficult than taking you in one hand, and your circumstances in the other hand, and getting the two hands together over the course of your life. It may help to think about how this might work for someone else instead of yourself, because it might be easier to see someone else's gifts and original nature than your own. Let's take Tevya, for example, from The Fiddler on the Roof. How does Tevya work out being true to himself within the circumstances of the concrete and steel of New York City? It would be easier if he could keep walking to the Catskills or the Adirondacks, and by a small farm with a cow and some chickens. But, confine him to NYC, and his task might become insurmountable. Particularly if you reduce his income to what he might earn selling newspapers on some street corner. He would need someone to talk to then, someone to listen to him, and help him sort things out, identify the nature of his problem with crystal clarity, and think through how to be who he is even there. Let's say that someone is you. How would you help Tevya find himself and be who he is in New York City? You are Tevya's muse and his oracle. Take it from here...
A rock has no trouble being its natural self. Nor, does a lion, or an eagle, or a humpback whale. They have no choice in the matter, for one thing. And, for another, they have no one telling them not to do it the way they are doing it, but to do it some other way instead. They don't even have someone asking them, "Who do you want to be when you grow up?" They have it made. Not so much you and I. It is our place to realize, bring forth and serve our distinctiveness, our style, our "thing" within the times and circumstances of our living. In that work, it helps to be attuned to our natural drifts and propensities, our inclinations and our bents. I have never liked to get my hands dirty. My mother laughed telling everyone throughout her life that I made mud pies with two sticks. My fifth-grade teacher, Ms. Unglesby, told my mom one parent's day, "Jimmy spends a lot of time looking out the window." I still do. There are things that are characteristically "us" that identify and define us from the beginning. It is ours to find them, honor them, and work them into our life, perhaps building our life around them, centered on them, grounded in them, proud to be who and how we are!
Doing what needs to be done here and now, moment to moment, keeps us focused on what's happening and what can be done about it, assisting it, resisting it, responding to it-- and helping us to remain immune to being emotionally hijacked by it. "This is how things are, and this is what can be done about it, and that's that," is a wonderful reminder of our limitations and vulnerabilities. Being as vulnerable as we are-- without being overwhelmed and undone by the facts limiting our living-- is the fulcrum that pivots the "is" into the "will be." Sounds crazy, but. That's because it IS crazy. Crazy sane. This is how it works: Starting with how things are (Hopeless, pointless, futile and absurd) lifts us to the vantage point of release and freedom through the simple response of, "So what? Who cares? What difference does that make?" Which connects us to the under-girding realization that we are here to do what can be done, and if nothing can be done, that pivots us to doing what can be done about nothing being able to be done. Now, we have a different problem, and one that we can do something about. We can shift our attitude from being helplessly unable to do anything about our situation, into being very potent and capable of adopting an attitude, perspective, frame of mind that renders us immune to being immobolized and despondent by refusing to let it "get us down," and determining to go right on being who we are, offering what is ours to serve and share, "Anyway, Nevertheless, Even so!" Even in situations in which nothing can be done, something needs to be done that can be done. In a prisoner of war camp, with no hope of escape or rescue, the prisoners can still be of help to one another, can still dress as sharply as they can, can still stand defiantly at attention, can still carry out their duties and responsibilities to themselves and each other, etc. "Anyway, Nevertheless, Even so!" Our demeanor and our attitude is always our call. And it still matters how we live when nothing seems to matter at all. If we are going to take anything on faith, take it on faith that it matters how we live, and live as though it matters how we live, trusting that to make all the difference, all the way to our very last breath. And it will! And if it doesn't, so what? It made all the difference in our life, all the way to the end.
If we can have a way without having to have our way, we will pave the way for the way and transform the world. Having to have our way is the way that prevents the way from being realized in the time and place of our living, and leads to the wasteland of our discontent and the loss of vitality and radiance worldwide. Placing ourselves in the service of that which needs to be done regardless of its implications for us personally, frees us to be what the situation calls for and enables is to rise to any occasion without being hampered by thought of advantage or gain, and allows us to respond with sincerity and spontaneity to the moment at hand, opening the way for things to be exactly what they should be, as blessing and grace upon all concerned. All because we said, "Yes," to what was happening and assisted its happening, with nothing in mind and no idea of what we were doing-- as a child might say exactly the right thing in exactly the right way in turning the moment into a brush with mystery and wonder, causing our souls to leap, and twinkle, and dance.