I started the book Essentialism the other day. I was only a few pages into it, when this section jumped off the page and forced me to stop. Here is what he wrote,
“The word priority came into the English language in the 1400s. It was singular. It meant the very first or prior thing. It stayed singular for the next 500 hundred years. Only in the 1900s did we pluralize the term and start talking about priorities. Illogically, we reasoned that by changing the word we could bend reality. (emphasis mine) Somehow we would now be able to have multiple “first” things. People and companies routinely try to do just that. One leader told me of his experience in a company that talked of “Pri-1, Pri-2, Pri-3, Pri-4, and Pri-5.” This gave the impression of many things being the priority but actually meant nothing was.”
Do you ever wonder how women are able to do it all? I know I do. How does she have all those children, and travel, and write a book, and garden, and have thriving relationships, and give to her community, and own a business, and, and, and…
I am struggling to merely keep myself afloat!
I feel like a failure most of the time when I look at other women’s lives. And thanks to this online age we’ve all become professionals at peering in and crafting our own conclusions about the people we watch. How did she find an endless supply of energy and sleep and stamina and creativity, what’s wrong with me?
We continue to bend reality by wrongly assuming the women we admire are doing it all. But they are not.
They are worn thin, running ragged, and surviving on last month’s inspiration. Some are going in and out of depression, trying to stuff their anger, or thinking about giving up every day. They yell, cry in their cars, and have trouble getting out of bed.
We all pursue interests and activities and relationships at the cost of something or someone else. We know this, and yet…
We hope, somehow, we can achieve super-human status.
Here are a few quick ways to see if you might be trying to wear a cape:
- You fear growing old and ignore the signs.
- You despise the weaknesses you see in yourself.
- You are in denial about your current season.
- You like to appear strong and confident.
- Your frequently think you can help others- that you can provide or create an answer for them.
- Small and successful cannot go together.
If you answered yes to any of these, there’s a good chance you are slipping into a cape every now and again. Now I know what I’m about to say doesn’t belong in a pep talk and might sound defeating, but here it is anyway:
Humans were not created to fly.
We were created to walk with dirt between our toes, holding one another’s sweaty hands, and wiping the dust from our faces. Nothing brings us back down to earth like reminding ourselves- I am aging. I am tired. I will die. I am weak. I am limited. At first, this sounds discouraging and, not too mention, morbid.
I realize these truths will never make it into a mission statement or a business plan, but imagine if we snuck them into our daily mantra or wove them through our meandering thoughts?
In exchange for a sense of invincibility, the organic outflow of laying down our hero status is depth and quality of life. We realize all the times we thought we were flying we were only scattered and fluttering about like dust on the floor, swirling upward and around with the slightest breeze.
But to remove our hands from all the things we’re involved in and let go of a few too many dreams signifies a sort of death. Won’t we plummet to the ground?
Most of us fail to recognize the cost of wearing a cape. For me, I am losing my ability to carve wells and explore the secret places. I easily gravitate towards whatever trend drifts through the air or what the supposed wise ones are telling me to try next.
Then I picture the women who walk on the wild trails overgrown with brambles and twisty switchbacks. They do not profess to do it all nor do they try. They revel in the beauty of their reality instead of trying to bend it.
In fact, at first glance, you might find yourself thinking, I wonder why she isn’t doing something else? It looks like she is wasting her time or her talents.
But look again.
Do you see what she is offering us?
In her hands she holds a plate; a steep, simple feast. She comes alongside you, smiles, and offers you a bite…
The taste is addicting, nourishing you back to life. You cannot get enough. Thankfully, she gives you as much as you need.
It doesn’t take long for you to realize what she is shoveling into your starving heart- heaping doses of reality.
In her presence you receive the freedom to be human not a hero, to be you without the cape, to walk into the mystery of your limited capacity, and to discover the surprisingly abundant life of less priorities, dare I say, maybe only one priority.
Pursuing the wild life begins by descending to the ground and staying there.