The journey in between what you once were and who you are now becoming is where the dance of life takes place.
- Barbara De Angelis
Popular culture frequently serves up inspiring examples of greatness being birthed from a crisis. Steve Jobs is guttered after being kicked out of the very company he created. He gets back on his feet, then later returns to take it from mediocrity to a world-beater. Malala gets shot by a Taliban gunman after speaking up for the rights of girls to get an education. She survives and becomes the poster child for equality and female empowerment before going on to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. While crises can serve to shock us out of our lethargy or lack of direction, most of us are more familiar with what can be called dying slowly.
The journalist Bill Moyers once shared, “A man said to me once after years of standing on the platform of the subway, ‘I die a little bit down there every day.’”
It is hard to accept that 8 out of 10 people don’t feel passionately about how they spend their work lives (which is most of their day) in this, ‘one wild and precious life.’ Do you?
Even among the minority who ARE passionate about their work, few of them feel they are following their north star, aligning what they love doing with earning a living and making a contribution to others. It is no wonder Oscar Wilde said, “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”
When we settle, exist, or opt out, we resign ourselves to lives which Clarissa Estés called the mangled, muffled, mediocre middle. A.A Milne’s poem, Halfway Down, captures our tendency to surrender into our comfort zones: “Halfway down the stairs is a stair where I sit. There isn't any other stair quite like it. I'm not at the bottom, I'm not at the top; so this is the stair where I always stop.”