Purpose has been a strong theme over the last couple of weeks. As most of you know, I’m still in the process of managing the fears that for so long kept me isolated and withdrawn from the simple things like socialising to things like performing and touring. Whilst I have come such a long way, there are still fearful patterns that I’m mindfully unwiring.
I’ve found mindfulness is essential when dealing with anxiety. It gives me the clarity and tools to navigate through intense emotion. The goal isn’t to eliminate fear, but rather to allow it to come and go in a way that doesn’t take me with it. Whilst such tools and techniques help, it still requires will-power to decide to face fear. The more I run, the bigger and darker it gets. So the decision to notice it, accept it and let it run it’s course requires courage. When I’m tired, I have to dig in a little deeper to find it. This is where purpose comes in.
When I say “purpose”, I’m not talking about world peace or making a change to society. Though they are valid, a purpose can be something tiny that means a lot to you. For me, a challenge is so much harder to overcome without purpose. Take, for example, a performance that I’m booked for. It’ll be my first time on the road in almost four years. The withdrawal from performance has been beneficial for clearing my head and building back up my body, but it’s also turned it into a mountain that I now need to climb. At least that’s the perception.
Initially, when looking at this weekend away, my mind went on a threat-scanning rampage. It collated the most challenging experiences I’ve ever had and played the footage through it’s bullshit crystal ball. Mindfulness allows me to see what’s bullshit, and what’s a genuine concern. Still, I know that I’m going to be out of my comfort zone and there’s a good chance that fear will be present. In my head I’m thinking, “all this just for a couple of casual sets?”. The will-power was low which left the fears running my body. I took another moment to widen the scope his is where the real purpose kicked in. It’s not about this particular gig. The purpose is to get comfortable touring again. The purpose is to feel the freedoms of travel and playing. I want to perform the songs that I write to the world. Touring breeds incredible resilience and a calmness that is completely independent of your surroundings. And to pick a destination, connect with the locals and lose yourself in bliss on stage is one of the most incredible things. I want that back.
So, when I reminded myself of the real purpose, all of a sudden the fears were completely manageable if not irrelevant. They say that our minds naturally make decisions based on what will give us the most pleasure. This is why we can often make decisions that aren’t for the best in the long run. It gives us the most pleasure at the time. For me, to cancel the gigs would mean that I wouldn’t have to face fear, and I can go back to feeling calm and settled. But of course, that’ll bite me in the arse down the track.
The process of growth involves stress. In other words, one can’t grow inside a comfort zone. Reminding myself of this is the way that I can trump the most immediate pleasure – giving it something it can’t refuse. It’s amazing the level of pain we’ll endure when we’re anchored to a passionate purpose.
Link: Geoff Thompson “No Growth in Comfort”