If you happen to follow Between Us or Karissa Schlaht on social media, I apologize if this feels like spam. I assure you that there is an attempt to extend beyond self-promotion on this #thoughtfulthursday. Prior to our podcast debut last weekend, Karissa and I had been flirting with its conception for over a year. It began as a pipe dream, which Karissa referred to as a “Passion Project.” Initially, my investment was lacklustre, thoughts consumed by pessimism: an unrealistic and lofty interest destined for failure. I reflected on the myriad of podcasts of which I frequently listen, all of them hosted by celebrities of some shape or form. I was unable to see beyond my nobodiness. Who wants to listen to a nobody? Who does a nobody interview? In a familiar Karissa fashion, she did not abandon her Passion Project. Rather, with time, I witnessed her enthusiasm grow, propelling her forward in the unstoppable manner I have been privy to many times. The scenario that unfolded reminds me of a scene in the movie Inside Out. Sadness is sprawled out on the ground, clearly overwhelmed, explaining to Joy she is, “Positively too sad to walk.” Without comment, Joy grabs Sadness by her feet and begins dragging her in a forward direction. As Joy pulls Sadness along, Sadness reluctantly voices directions. This perfectly depicts Karissa and I in the early phases.
Week by week, it was evident that we were inching towards the concrete. Although I proceeded with caution, I was in conversation with contemplation, shuffling towards acceptance. Shortly thereafter, I found myself launching into action. It is comical how lengthy and arduous the contemplation process can be, in contrast to the momentary act of crossing the invisible barrier. This moment occurred as I was listening to Brene Brown in conversation with Sarah Lewis on her podcast Unlocking Us. Amongst the numerous golden nuggets that were a product of this conversation, I was most inspired by Lewis’ concept of mastery. From an egocentric stance, humans engage in creative or entrepreneurial ventures with outcome or profit motive, often one’s sense of pride at stake. As is evident, this too was my preliminary reaction. With time and reflection, I found my vision returning, creating distance between the real I and the blindness of the lizard brain.
Lewis states, “Mastery requires endurance. Mastery, a word we don’t use often, is not the equivalent of what we might consider its cognate – perfectionism – an inhuman aim motivated by a concern with how others view us. Mastery is also not the same as success – an event-based victory based on a peak point, a punctuated moment in time. Mastery is not merely a commitment to a goal, but to a curved line, constant pursuit.”
Seemingly, a representative definition of mastery is comprised of what mastery is not. One interpretation of mastery includes an enrapture with the notion of process, encompassing both exploration and ingenuity. This conceptualization of process holds space for the full spectrum of the human experience. The human experience is vast, residing on and everywhere between the messy and the mystery. I am reminded that a meaningful life is not without risk, which inevitably is met with fear. If there is room to probe into this fear, there may be awareness that it is not singular; panic, commotion, anticipation, and exhilaration may reside beneath.
On this Thursday, I wish all the courage to embrace the mess that precedes the mystery. Remain open to the full range of the human experience, light and shadow alike.
Farewell my friends,