Sometimes shit just doesn’t work out. It’s the way it is. You try and try and try, and the bottom just drops out from beneath you.
This is how a conversation with one of my clients was going recently. I’ve been working with her for quite a while, and I have to say she is hands down one of the most incredible women I have ever had the opportunity to work with. She has single-handedly created an immensely successful career for herself, has traveled around the world, been a coach, teacher, and mentor for celebrities and here it is: sometimes shit just doesn’t work out.
See, despite everything that she has accomplished there is an unspoken current that runs through things as they relate to our society. Well, in these days of asinine political sideshows and the flocks that follow even the most degenerate candidates I suppose there is little that is worthwhile being spoken. And this, in part, has much to do with why sometimes shit just doesn’t work out.
This client of mine has an enormous heart. She is a changemaker in the world. She has blown away stigmas and stereotypes of being a minority woman working in predominantly male-centered settings. She has inspired countless people to change their lives and live from a place of deep connection. She has been the vehicle for spiritual, emotional and physical healing. She has done so many things that I admire and respect because they are accomplished through an absolute devotion to making this world a better place.
But sometimes shit just doesn’t work out. And that, essentially, is both the beauty and the sorrow of living. Like her I have known a select few people whose purpose in life, beyond shadow of a doubt, is to help others wake up to the connections we have to each other, the natural world, and the world of Spirit. These are people that Martha Beck calls Wayfinders. They are those that are working at the periphery of the fabric of our society to weave a new vision for humanity into existence. This is not easy work. It is not for the fickle of faint-hearted.
The thing about people that are building a different vision for what humanity can be is that they are all outliers. They are the ones that, while steeped knee deep in a world that functions by feeding an unending hunger for superficial materialism, have to venture mentally and socially into new ways of living. These ways of living often stand in stark opposition to what the masses are taught to expect and to value: things like the illusion of security, the acquisition of property, enough zeros at the end of your bank statement to make you cozy. You know, all we’ve attributed to being “grown up.”
But sometimes shit just doesn’t work out. Sometimes all of these illusory “securities” fall short of supplying exactly what they were supposed to: a sense of accomplishment, arrival, a fabled completion after which a person can finally and at long last “enjoy life.” As a society we are moving towards a time when this hits all of us in very real ways. Where are looking down the line and seeing that there is a bridge missing on the train tracks ahead. Despite being on this trip together some of us have been looking at what it means when all of this social illusion comes to a rampaging, crashing and crushing halt.
Like this client, this friend of mine, I have been considering what it means to envision a new way of being human. The thing is that this new way is not so new. Elements of it are deeply rooted in ancestral waters that predate anything I can think of. But to hold this vision, to be part of those co-creating it is not a simple task. It is one of the most difficult things that a person can do.
Because it requires a willingness to stand in the face of an insane world and resist being swept unconsciously along with the current. And let there be no confusion, the current has all of us. We are not exempt from the trends that move humanity forward, for better or worse, because we exist within this system. But to be conscious of it affords possibilities for making a difference. It allows us to be there to catch those that didn’t see it coming when shit just doesn’t work out. It allows us to face the challenges that others won’t because they refuse to or can’t. It allows us to be a presence that listens to a voice that is deeper and older than the mind-numbing paradigm that runs our society currently. This is worthy work for countless lifetimes. But the payoff is not always so great.
This work is visionary work. It is shaman work. It is mystic work. Recently I was listening to a teaching by Martin Shaw and Daniel Deardorff, sharing an ancient storythat is pregnant with wisdom. At one point Martin Shaw said “It is the community’s job to kill the mystic.” I was absolutely floored by that. My body responded faster than my mind. In an instant my eyes were heavy with tears. In our society the mystics are the ones that propose new directions for living. They are the ones that point to the fact that we may, if we have the courage, wisdom and endurance for it, learn to live in a sane way. A way that honors our individual existence and our greater connection and responsibility to the whole of Life.
Mystics are also those that are challenged, threatened, assailed and in some cases killed for breathing the Sacred back into the world. They carry at once the burden of an outside world that doesn’t understand and, what’s more, attacks the belief that we could live differently than the toxic suicidal ecocide we are living in. This burden is difficult because the attack is both internal and external. Many of us internalize the social violence that is aimed at people that don't unquestioningly strap on their wool costumes and baaaa like everyone else. We learn to attack ourselves for being different, dissident, defiant to a world that is far from sane. We unconsciously and sometimes consciously attack and punish ourselves for being outliers, for not fitting into the status quo, for not being who or what we're "supposed to." This is ingrained in us from the youngest age.
When you take up the work of envisioning a new way of living and living accordingly you are, according to our society, the shit that just doesn’t work out. At the same time, when people wake up through whatever circumstances in their lives (and usually these are psychically violent awakenings), they need someone that knows that sometimes shit just doesn’t work out. They need the mystics, the ones that have dared to see what life could be if lived from a higher place of consciousness that is informed by a deep wisdom. The expansion of the mystic's awareness must extend into extreme upper and lower realms. This is why they can navigate when "shit just doesn't work out." They understand that it is how it is with all of this, this Cosmic Joke. Sometimes it doesn't work out, sometimes it does. Sometimes you find yourself being flung from one side to the other.
We all have a bit of the mystic within us. You have it, too. If you didn’t you wouldn’t have read this far. But we must learn to stop being accomplices in killing that inner mystic. Our society works extremely hard to do that, and our compliance with it can be devastating as we attack those parts of us that simply won’t fit in with the flock. You are not a sheep. And chances are that the part of you that knows it has a voice that can help us all in collectively dreaming a new way of living into existence. Learn to embrace that voice and follow where it leads you. It will be there as a faithful witness and guide for you and others, when sometimes shit just doesn’t work out.
* Originally published as Inlak'ech Transpersonal Coaching