by Kristin Armstrong
Illustration by Kristin Moore
No one would ever attempt to build a house or a building by just showing up, dumping some concrete on the ground, and hammering some boards together. No way. Months, sometimes even years, are spent in the planning phase, looking at the topography of the land, drafting architectural plans and renderings, considering the foundation, the beams, the framing, the safety of the structure, the view, the light, the design, and the materials. It takes vision and patience to create something safe, beautiful, and lasting.
Yet how often do we show up in our own lives without a plan?
I have an old priest friend, and I remember when he spoke about vectors. He said that if we don’t know where we are going, it’s quite certain we will never get there. He compared it to the way a pilot needs a flight plan and said we humans need to chart our life course as well. The thing about vectors is that if we are just a few degrees off course, we will land far from our intended destination. Small degrees yield a widely different arc.
I actually really liked geometry, so this image and the metaphorical meaning it applies to life registered in my brain and I never forgot it. I like the idea of knowing where I ultimately want to go and stopping periodically to check my vectors.
If we want victory, we must try hard enough to risk failure.
My spiritual mentors talk about meditation and how important it is to visualize the life we want, and specifically sit with those thoughts and desires and emotionally charge them with our feelings. Especially powerful charges are things like excitement, hope, love, gratitude, and a yearning to serve others. Desire is fully manifested when we link our attention to our intention. This is like the builder who has a plan. With a vision of what we ultimately want to build, it’s much easier to bring that dream to fulfillment. So the time we spend in our workroom (our hearts and minds) is everything.
Today life is fast, life is full, and life is noisy. Everywhere we look, something is demanding and distracting our attention. Watch the way you respond when your phone beeps, buzzes, or rings. We drool and wag like Pavlov’s dogs. We run down the rabbit trail of urgency rather than pursue the path of importance. It’s hard to pause long enough to make time for dreaming, visualizing, or checking our vectors. But this is absolutely essential.
It is also essential to understand that realization depends upon giving away the thing we want the most. This is so counterintuitive that I fought it for over a decade.
If we want financial freedom and abundance, we have to be generous. If we want empathy and connection, we have to show up for other people in their pain. If we want success in our careers, we have to mentor others and share our gifts. If we want advancement, we must contribute to and celebrate the achievements of another. If we want a promotion, we have to credit our team. If we want forgiveness and mercy, we have to first press through our resentment and extend it to someone else. If we want to feel beautiful, we have to honor the beauty in nature, art, and in other people. If we want to feel valuable, we have to value others. If we want patience, we must endure suffering and waiting. If we want courage, we must be willing to be vulnerable. If we want victory, we must try hard enough to risk failure. If we want to love, we must be willing to suffer loss. If we want faith, we have to relinquish control and trust in something bigger than ourselves. If we want joy, we have to be joyful. If we want freedom, we must grant it to others and slowly, mindfully, learn to let go.