Getting Out of Your Way

getting out of the way

Ralph Waldo Emerson is famously quoted as saying “Get your bloated nothingness out of the way of the divine circuits.” While this may seem a little harsh, it has always resonated with me because it illustrates so well how we can sometimes get in the way of all the good that is trying to happen through us and for us.

A story is told that when Columbus sailed his ships to America, the indigenous people who inhabited the land couldn’t see the ships because the concept of ships like Columbus’ was not like anything they had seen before. I have always been a little skeptical of this idea and I’m still not sure that I believe it happened that way. However, I recently discovered my own example of where my present concepts did not allow me to see what was right in from of me.

For several years I had worked very closely with two individuals. Our roles were highly intertwined and we were colleagues in every sense of the word. We also became friends and socialized together. When I was nearing my last day at the company, my two colleagues offered to take me to dinner as a farewell. I agreed and we met at a place we had often frequented. While we were having dinner, one of them told me that she was in love. Excited to hear this, I asked if it was anyone I knew.

My colleague replied “yes” and I ventured a guess that was far off the mark. I couldn’t think of who else it could be so I asked her to tell me who it was. She replied, “He is sitting right next to you.” While I understood what those words meant, I still did not understand what she was conveying. After she repeated it a few times and I still looked puzzled, she finally said it was our colleague sitting at the table who she was in love with, and said his name. While I was a bit in shock, I finally got it – she was in love with our mutual colleague, and he was in love with her.

My entrenched idea of the three of us as colleagues did not allow me to see what was right in front of me. It was too far out of the realm of how I had thought about the three of us for six years. We all laughed at this and have shared this story with many other friends. However, it is the story’s relevance to how our minds sometimes work that causes me to tell it here.

The story illustrates how our present concepts can limit our ability to see new possibilities. While the particular story shared here may seem a bit unusual, the phenomenon is not so unusual.

I invite you to consider today where your present concepts or way of seeing life might be hindering your ability to see possibilities that are right in front of you. This could be an exciting exercise. Perhaps that seemingly intractable problem or issue in your life has an obvious solution, just waiting for your recognition. First, we might need to ask, what do I believe about the situation? Then we might question our own beliefs. How true are they, and to what extent have we given them credence because we’ve held the beliefs for so long?

Remember one of my favorite bumper stickers: “Don’t believe everything you think!”

Enjoy the journey.

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