Tending trust has become an enormous part of my life this year. I spend hours at it every day – in the work I do here, and also in my offline world. Sometimes as I’m driving, my head in the clouds of a trust-related thought, I get this flash of awareness that most, if not all, of the people in the cars around me couldn’t care less about this topic that’s become such a pivot point of my universe.
And I wonder whether that thought can be the start of an important perspective shift for all of us.
Starting new things is often the equivalent of putting whatever thing you’re starting under a microscope and then gluing your eyes to that microscope for so long that you begin to forget that you aren’t seeing more than a fraction of our world. The people who share your intrigue with this thing that you’re starting can also become your entire social habitat, and their support, criticism, expertise, successes, and failures your benchmarks for determining how you feel about yourself and the things that you do.
I think this is true whether the new thing you’re starting is life without someone you love(d), a project, a hobby, a business, or a stint overseas.
There are two sides to this thought, in particular, that I think are worth exploring:
1. The thing on the stage of your microscope is only one of many captivating things in our world.
This thought has the potential to remove a whole pile of stress that can accumulate from seeing your thing as the only thing in the world worth doing. Your success or failure at it – no matter how famous you are – is not something the bulk of the world cares or even knows about. Even if there’s a part of you that wants the whole world to applaud your successes or support you in your failures, my guess is your psyche and soul will breathe an enormous sigh of relief to know the whole world isn’t watching.
2. The thing on the stage of your microscope is every bit as world-changing as the thing on someone else’s.
I wish I could say “world-changing for the better”, but I don’t believe that’s true. I mean world-changing in an absolute value way. We’re all connected. And this means that if you’re spending all your microscope time pouring over the latest TV Guide, our world, and therefore my life within it, is going to be different than if you spent your microscope time creating art or writing books or raising kids or writing health care reform. The time you spend at your microscope, though unheeded by the masses, is participating in the creation of our world.
Both points bring to mind the Buddhist meditation where you choose one of two things to reach the same place of enlightenment: shrink yourself in your mind’s eye to become a speck of dust in our vast, expanding universe OR expand yourself in your mind’s eye to encompass everything there is. Both take you to a place where ego is irrelevant. Where jealousies are moot and failure impossible. Where judging down on other people makes just as much sense as judging up on those who’ve achieved or enjoy some measure of success.
What if, as you go about your business of microscope viewing, you consciously lift your eyes from time to time to absorb a broader view? What if you imagine your microscope, and those of the billions of others on our planet, like lighted tea lights: bright, unassuming, equal for their size and weight.
What might this do to the fears you experience around this new thing you’re beginning?