I listened to Parker Palmer giving this commencement address to the graduating class at Naropa University, and several times I got goose bumps and shivers. For me, those have become telltale signs that there’s something important and/or very true being shared.
The six suggestions Parker provides on living a life worth exploring are simple. And powerful. So powerful I followed my urge to split this recommendation into six consecutive blog posts. You can read my thoughts on the first, second and third suggestion here.
The fourth suggestion is: Take on big jobs worth doing. Jobs like the spread of love, peace and justice.
Dare to dream, go for the seemingly impossible. I know I have these past 3-4 years. But I don’t even want to go there right now. If you’re interested you’l be able to find out what my goal for 2020 is.
The important thing for me is that we avoid playing small. Belittling ourselves. Yeah sure, maybe I can’t make a huge shift to society…. but maybe I can! Right? I mean, how would you know? If you don’t go for it – how would you ever know what might have been?
And don’t get me wrong, playing big doesn’t mean setting a big goal to change society, starting revolution, inventing something extraordinarily magnificent and winning the Nobel Price for it. It can just as well be about becoming the best parent around or spreading love and warmth where ever you go or volunteering at a local shelter…. or anything really. As long as you really have the feeling it’s worth doing. That’s what to look for!
Playing big, for me, is therefore more about stretching myself, growing, expanding. You know, like a balloon. When you first try to inflate it, it’s hard. You have to blow hard on it to make anything happen. And then – all of a sudden, it starts to expand, and finally – you’re there, with a beautiful ballon in your hands. Now. If you deflate it, and then inflate it again – it’s much easier the second time around, isn’t it? And possibly you can get a few more breaths of air in it. Just don’t blow so hard it explodes.
You know where that boundary is within you. I am certain of it. Just make sure you listen for the proper voice though! It’s not the harsh voice telling you ”You’re pushing it too far”, ”Don’t even bother to try it, you’ll fail!”, ”Who are you thinking you could do something like that?”… that you should listen to. No. Listen for the silent knowing, the kind that fills your entire body. Wordlessly it let’s you know, what the right amount of air is to stretch the balloon just a tiny bit further. That’s what you should listen for when you go for the big jobs.
So. I’m curious to know. What’s your big job?