Monday 12 July 2010

Baby-steps role models

I love the idea of role models.  People I look up to, whom I aspire to learn from, to whom I pay attention.  Their qualities, values and growth reignite my passion to live a richer life, to become more than I dream I can be.

But very often, my role models are famous people.  People onto whom I can project all kinds of idealised qualities, goodness and perfection.  As I read my friend Susannah's email today, I realised that my friends are also role models.  I am attracted to them for the very fact that they embody characteristics that I aspire towards.

Maybe friends are baby-steps role models.  I know them well enough to know that they are not perfect, so they are realistic.  Just like me, they strive and they succeed, they strive and they fail... sometimes they don't strive at all, it's just who they are that inspires me to be more like them.

Susannah had been searching for purpose, her passion, her path for many years.  She had done degrees, changed jobs, changed careers, even crossed the planet in her search to feel as though she was utterly aligned with her most magnificent self.  To feel that she was living her greatest potential.  For years, it ellueded her.  She sometimes caught elements of it... whispers of where she felt most alive, but the core vision, the deepest knowing that 'This is Me', seemed distant and ephemeral. 

When we live a life that tries to embody the spiritual path in our daily lives, the whispers of our intuition become our guide.  And she knew there was more, so she kept searching...

18 months ago, Susannah decided to go to New Zealand.  She didn't really know why, but she left her job and her flat, and followed the intuition.  At first, it seemed as though nothing was changing.  Then, a few weeks into her journey, she was walking back to her camp from a wine tasting evening.  It was an inauspicious evening, the moon was shining, she was a little tipsy, and a new friend walked alongside her through the vineyard. "What do you really want to do?" he asked her.

She'd been asked the question before.  But in that one instant, she knew.  She felt the tug of knowing so deeply inside her that she knew she was now on 'Her path'.  She wanted to work in psychology.

Discovering her dream isn't what inspires me, though her perserverance does, it is what came next.  Susannah doesn't enjoy the life of a student - it's not her thing.  But despite all the obstacles (and they have been considerable) she has persevered, first doing one course, then the next, and the next... all leading towards the qualification she requires to fully live her dream.  What is utterly inspiring is that Susannah has had the courage to dive into her 'Achilles Hell', to grapple with the challenges that have plagued her, just so that she can remain true to herself. 

And here is what is truly amazing... over the past 18 months, she has managed to not only face her greatest fears, but to walk through them and, ultimately, to begin to find joy in the study that once terrorised her.  She shows me that we have some much more inside us than we care to believe, that we are greater than our perceived limitations, and that if we are courageous and compassionate, there is nothing that we cannot do.  Not only is she on the road to her purpose, she has found a way to embrace a dragon that once terrified.

Susannah reminds me that life's path can be mucky, but that's no reason to abandon the trail.  We are imperfect, and we can continue to walk towards our dreams, in spite of those imperfections, even on the days when it seems as though we're taking two steps backwards.

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