There were about twenty-five of us altogether. It was the monthly community call of Transformational Presence graduates from around the world. We were talking about what we choose to make important in our lives and work in light of all that is happening in the world.
It just happened that Gord Downie, frontman for the Canadian rock band The Tragically Hip had passed away the day before from brain cancer. I admit that I’m not very up-to-date on rock music and bands, so I didn’t know who Gord Downie was. Yet I had seen footage of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak of the loss of “one of the very best of us” as tears streamed down his face. That in itself was a beautiful display of “the real stuff” of life by a world leader. Clearly Gord Downie was beloved by a nation.
As we talked on our call about what we choose to make important, Canadian Trace Hobson shared these words from Michael Barclay’s tribute to Gord Downie:
He was on a fishing trip. In the remote north, in a land where the many not born there dare not go. Where some get lost. Where some go to get lost.
Days earlier, this quiet man had held much of the entire nation rapt, millions watching as he summoned all his strength to tackle his terminal condition, to fend back—however briefly—the inevitability of death. To testify one more time. It would turn out to be the last show of his band’s 30-year, multi-million-selling, award-winning career, a fate many suspected at the time.
But things were much quieter now. Just a few close friends on a starry night in front of a campfire.
There were a few others there, though, most of whom knew enough to respect the privacy of the cancer-stricken man who had travelled hundreds of kilometres to disappear. Nonetheless, someone piped up.
“Gord, I always wanted to ask you: how do you get the energy to make it so real every day? I think if I put myself out there like that, on the line, and make people emotionally connect with me, I feel like I couldn’t ever do it again, because I’d get bored or I just couldn’t summon the same amount of emotion. And it seems like you get up there every single time and give it!”
The man slumped a bit. Paused. Then he got up, silently, walked over to a pile of wood, picked up two logs, and returned to put them on the fire. Not a word. He stoked the fire until sparks came out. The poet whose metaphors had inspired generations of rock’n’roll fans had nothing more to say—with words, anyway.
Do the work. Create the spark. Then sit back and see what happens, because it’s not like you can control it. Sit down. Shut up until it’s time to do it again. See where those sparks land.
There it is. What is important in how we live and work – what is important in how we share our gifts with the world. Just do it. Then step back and see how it lands. Listen, sense, and feel when it’s time to get out of the way, and when it’s time to take the next step. It’s not about being pro-active and trying to make things happen. It’s about being fully engaged and riding the wave of what wants to happen next. And then saying Yes when it’s time for the next step in service to Life with a capital L.
What Life asks us for and what we want from Life – those two things don’t always line up. That’s just how it is. The only thing we can “control” is how we show up – how we choose to meet the opportunities and challenges and celebrations and losses of our lives. We can fight what is, or we can partner with it to make a difference.
Do the work. Create the spark. See where those sparks land.
What am I here for? What are you here for? Just do it. That’s what’s important.
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