Friday, November 21, 2014
Be the Surfboard
I always tell my Tribe kids, “Life comes at us in waves. You can be either driftwood, or you can be surfboard. Be the surfboard.” Since there’s always a steady stream of new kids and adults participating in Tribe, this gets quoted fairly frequently to the newcomers. But even the veterans need reminding.
Being the surfboard is a lifestyle choice. It’s not a concept that is readily digestible in its full form. Superficially, it’s fairly self-explanatory. Don’t be driftwood. Be something better. It’s inspiring in a pithy way. But there’s something much more profound upon which to deeply meditate here for there are many layers of nuance in the choice to BE the surfboard. It’s an intention. And not just any intention. It’s a covenant with yourself and the Universe to take the situations of your life—good, bad and ugly—and find a way to not only survive them, but thrive because of them.
Being the surfboard is a commitment to having faith that there is a win-win solution to every challenge even when you can’t see it. It’s a choice to be obligated to an idea that you are loved even when you feel alone, cared for even when you feel abandoned, and held even when you feel unlovable.
For me, as a person living with adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, it would be very easy for me to look at my ADHD and see it as a learning disability, a preventative to sitting still, and a host of other “symptoms” to plague my life and prevent my “normalcy.” I can look at my disorder and view it as an uncorrectable lack of order—a dis-ability—or I can choose to look at it in a better way. I can make the decision, before the knowing all the facts, that I will be exalted in the process of self-discovery. As if God is just waiting for me, in love and anticipation, to get with the program.
A beloved cousin of mine once told me a story about a close friend of hers who is an ADHD specialist in California. Parents of ADHD children come to her in despair that their child is not normative. But she says to them, “Congratulations! You’re the future parent of a CEO.”
Children and adults with ADHD are not normative. And there is no reason we should be viewed that way, or worse, be medically treated with a goal of normalcy. We have our unique specialness just like everyone else. We have busy brains that are capable of a style of non-linear, conceptual thinking that is vastly different from normative brain structure. And in this we are quite gifted. If we can learn to surf it. Too many of us are driftwood.
I have not “conquered” my ADHD. I do not completely understand it yet, and my limited understanding is largely based on medical theories which are sometimes grossly mistaken, outdated, even dangerous. The field of ADHD research may be taking leaps and bounds in its clinical settings, but it is largely without my knowing it. Those cloistered findings take time to become part of the larger cultural reality and they are not benefitting me right now.
In order to surf my ADHD without the benefit of a complete understanding I have to have a degree of faith about it. Regardless of your personal challenges, you need faith to fill in the gap of understanding. Faith helps you “fake it till you make it.” I need to believe that I am perfectly made, exactly as I am. Inherent challenges are not flaws of creation, they are not birth defects, they are not moments when God was asleep at the wheel, they are opportunities for advancement.
Being a non-linear thinker sometimes makes it a challenge for others to work with me because I skip around from point to point, non-sequitur to non-sequitur, enough to make a linear head spin. But I also see a beauty of form that others often manage to miss. I see ways of coming at a solution which defies linear logic. I don’t merely think outside the box, I don’t see a box at all. Some would say my way of thinking is foolish, impractical, ungrounded, or worse, unrealistic. That my head is in the clouds and not on earth. I daydream, I imagine, I fantasize, I envision. These are not the pastimes of left-brain, logical, analytical thinkers. They are the pastimes of visionaries.
We far too often take the ten pounds of shit we each of us get in life and let them weigh us down. Especially because we are regularly informed by our culture that they are bad things; things for which we deserve pity, not empowerment. It’s all but impossible to counteract these cultural memes and popular notions. We trust the people we love to tell us, “Here take this pill and then you’ll be normal just like me.” We take the pill and wait for it to happen. It won’t. There is no pill you can give to a non-swimmer that will teach them how to surf.
I do take medication for my ADHD, but I don’t consider it a panacea that will cure me of all my cultural irregularity. That pill to me is a physical symbol of a larger, metaphysical solution; one that I need, with prayer and faith, to gently coax out the intuitive ideas and solutions which will help me, over time, to not only survive, but thrive. A belief that I am both worthy and perfectly made is essential to opening the conduit between God and myself. A conduit that will carry into my consciousness the intuitive solutions designed especially for me. On some etheric level, they may have even been designed by me. I have only to tap into them to discern their presence.
That’s quite a leap for some, I’m sure, but intuitive thinking is not the only way to arrive at the path that will lead us from from driftwood to surfboard. Logic is also available.
So, let’s be logical for a moment. Do you want to be a person who lives in the space of your challenges, or do you want to be someone who sees challenge as an opportunity? Do you want to be miserable and hopeless, or do you want to feel empowered? A living cell needs challenge in order to mutate and adapt. A cell needs a jolt or a shock or a sudden, potentially catastrophic change in its environment to launch a healthy adaptation process. That process and the code to adapt is embedded in its original created structure; the potentials for successful adaptation are already present at its creation. Cells know this and are unchallenged by the culture around them when its time to manifest change. When they need to be something else, or need to perform a slightly altered function, they do so without complaint, without fear, and without retaliation for that which made them need to change in the first place. They don’t waste time suing someone or something for compensation, they merely respond to change in a way that not only ensures their survival, but actually makes them better than they were before. Now, THAT is intelligent design!
In this, with faith, our challenges become our teachers. They become the deliverers of our new paradigm, our new way of being. When we make the decision that something which challenges us is actually manifesting our positive evolution, we become the vacuum of solution. We literally create a gravitational pull of answers toward us. The more we believe the answers are there for the taking, the more the scales are removed from our eyes to see them lying at our feet where they existed all along.
How many times have you pondered and worried over a problem only to realize the answer was staring you in the face the whole time? How much effort did it require to remain blind to it? How much wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth did you have to endure before you finally just let go? How bad did it have to get first?
How many times have you fought change? Carl Jung said, “What we resist, persists.” Stop resisting. Start surfing. Start seeing beauty in challenge and in the processes that help us adapt. Start by giving thanks for your body, your mind, the processes of your cellular structure. When you are ill, your body has not betrayed you. It is trying to adapt for your betterment. It is recalibrating. It needs help. It needs faith. It needs you. It needs you to hold its hand and believe in it.
Make a radical choice to believe that everything happens for a good reason and then act on that assumption and see what happens. Be wildly open to possibility. Be rebelliously optimistic. Be brave enough to look at others with similar challenges and know that you can adapt when others have not. And then be their teacher. They need you.
Posted by Wil Darcangelo at 11:13 AM