What if you never need it to go smoothly again? The value of a mess.

it's all a beautiful mess
it’s all a beautiful mess

Yesterday I was doing all kinds of business-ish work-ish errand-ish stuff after returning from a long almost three week vacation.

Writing, answering emails, deleting emails, paying bills, checking bank account, participating in a teleclass, fixing errors, updating spreadsheet of participants in Year of Inquiry, opening and throwing away mail, mapping out my year into summer 2016, creating a flyer for a cancer support group in Seattle starting in October, taking my daughter to high school to pay all her senior year fees, shopping for school supplies, moving the laundry forward.

You get the idea.

As I approached the late afternoon, I felt the excitement of a new year-long group starting at 5 pm via telecall.

As always there was a last-minute flurry of emails and phone calls about Year of Inquiry, even though really, it’s only just begun and people could start almost any time this month without a problem.

Then this thing happened that’s happened several times in the past few years of facilitating telegroups.

During this call, the very first one–and only the first one–my connection to the call drops.

People are emailing “I don’t hear you anymore” and “it’s saying the moderator has left the conference” and “is there something wrong with the sound?”

Last year, when I started the very first Eating Peace 3.5 month program (which happens next this fall and through the holidays) there was a storm on the first day, the power went out in my entire neighborhood, and I had to drive to the nearest Starbucks and sit outside while using their wifi.

The year before that, on the first Relationship Hell to Heaven course call, my internet suddenly dropped and I had to use my cell phone to dial-in and couldn’t find my own number at first, while people were waiting.

Last night, I was using a new way to connect to my teleconference with Web Call and it dropped and I couldn’t even tell it dropped–I was just talking away until someone raised their hand (which I can see on my computer screen) to let me know I was gone.

Weird that it’s been the very first call.

Isn’t that a bad way to begin??!!

Ah ha! Something for The Work!

Here’s the belief, the general thinking:

The first call should be informative, clear sound, no technical difficulties, inspiring to everyone on the call, fascinating, stimulating, “go well”. People should feel happy they’re participating. It should feel like YES and be connecting, fun, easy. This new experience should be good.

Like a first date.

Or a job interview.

Or checking in to your hotel on a vacation, or getting that perfect campsite on your backpacking trip.

Or childhood.

Or getting over a disease.

Or dying.

This is no uncommon thought system of beliefs.

It should go well. Smoothly, easily, calmly. Everything should be wonderful. There should be a feeling of happiness, humor, joy, pleasure and peace about it.

Any of it. Any of these things.

But is that true?

Sure! (Says my immediate answer from the seeker of enjoyment, ease and pleasure in life).

Can you absolutely know that it’s true?

Yes. Pause. Yes. It seems so true. It seems like it’s better if it goes smoothly and easily and well.

Although I begin quickly to see that I have my version of “going smoothly” and my version of “going well” and my propensity to believe in ease-at-all-times is better than messy.

And what if this is not “my” version? What if it’s just an idea, a belief, passed on from previous generations and shared by humanity?

How do I react when I believe something, anything, should go “well” (and I see what well means to me as clearly as day)?

When it doesn’t, I’m angry.

Sometimes furious.

I’m bitter, I’m anxious, I’m sad.

Who would I be without the belief that something should go well, the first impression should be excellent, that nothing should be upsetting or disconnecting….

….even death, for example?

About a thousand times more interested in whatever is messy, chaotic, wild.

Accepting of it all.


The first call should be uninformative, bad sound, technical difficulties, uninspiring to everyone on the call, uninteresting, dull, “go poorly”. People should feel unhappy they’re participating. It should feel like NO and be disconnecting, hard, boring. This new experience should be difficult.

OK then.

But really….funny as this sounds….how could this be as true, or truer?

I find three examples.

1) If someone is really freaked out or disturbed by one phone call, this probably isn’t the right place for them–they can quickly and efficiently withdraw

2) I can see how I am not calling the shots or in control–and how quickly someone wrote to alert me so that I could make a change. I notice I didn’t have to know before I needed to.

3) Messiness and Not Knowing (see yesterday’s Grace Note) is more the norm and when I get to practice inquiring into these disturbances, the end is laughter and relaxation, and joy

Without this belief that something has to go well?

I might try more new stuff.

In fact, that’s what happened with more inquiry, the more I did it.

Life became messier, more unexpected, full of mistakes, riskier (in a good way).

Today, I get to remember how much I like this new down-in-the-street way of life, gritty, real, throw caution to the wind….

….and smile with the feeling of Bring It On.

“You feel bad? But it’s pure innocence. If I believe it, I have to live out of it. I can try and try and try, I can use positive affirmations, but under these affirmations, what I really believe is what drives me to act. And it rules me. And I pretend, and I hate myself. Feel it. It’s violence…..We want war to end in the world, but basically we think that war works in our lives.” ~ Byron Katie

I notice being against even phone interruptions and technical difficulties creates a violent edge, or a frightened edge.

What if I were for whatever happened?

Whether a phone call dropping, or a terrible childhood, or dying….it would be a wild, amazing adventure.

Full of all the range of emotions, and love, and change, and messiness, and laughter.

And gratitude.

Much Love, Grace


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