Earlier this month, the Expanding Inward team was honored to be invited to present at The Grove Community’s latest event. The event, titled “The Hero’s Journey to Resurrection,” served as an initiation for The Grove’s core team as the group transitions into offering more public events starting in 2014. In large part, our role was to provide the structure and hold a container for the group, which included the core team, other members of The Grove community, and some people who had never attended an event with them. As I reflect on the event now, I realize just what a gift it was to experience the event from the perspective I held.
One of my favorite things in the world is watching people celebrate one another’s success. I’m one of those odd people who actively enjoy college commencement ceremonies, for instance. Well, the shorter ones, anyway…provided they don’t start too early in the day. And I really prefer that the speaker have something interesting to say. I like the idea of commencement ceremonies, anyway. Sometimes.
You know what? Let’s try this again.
Witnessing celebration is, in many ways, preferable to being a part of a celebration myself. I think it’s because, like many of us, I tend to view my own accomplishments with a very skeptical eye. If I’m being congratulated for something, my first instinct is to demur, to downplay my success. For me this tends to manifest as self-deprecating humor. If that’s not an option, then often I’ll grit my teeth and be gracious on the outside, while my internal monologue is reminding me that I’m not actually worthy of being celebrated, that my accomplishments aren’t that impressive, really, particularly compared to the people around me. I’ll nod and smile, sure, but inside I’m saying, “Oh, if you only knew…”
And that’s the problem, isn’t it? The “If you only knew” voice is cheating, because it is in the comparison business. That voice reminds me of every hesitation, every failure, every moment of self-doubt that preceded the almost-accidental success that I am now enjoying, while completely discounting the possibility that anyone around me might have the same experience. The voice doesn’t believe that success comes easily to others, but it certainly assumes that their path to success is a lot more direct than mine will ever be.
Near the end of the Saturday night ritual, each member of the group was challenged to stand up in front of their community and claim their excellence. They all did so, in a myriad of ways. Some with a clear sense of exactly what they intended to manifest in the world, others with a dedication to finding out, still others with an almost fierce sense of excitement. What struck me, more than what anyone said in that moment, was the courage with which each person spoke. It was really a beautiful thing to see, that combination of vulnerability and support for one another. It occurred to me in that moment that from the outside, at least, that “If you only knew” voice really doesn’t matter so much.
Or, as I jotted down in my journal later the following week: “Hey, dummy. The path doesn’t have to be direct. It doesn’t even have to look like a path at all, really. Just keep moving.”
This post was written by Jason Frey