A Guest Blog Essay
by Sophie Somerfeldt
I never imagined I could fly coast to coast for $35. I had no idea that I’d go from couch to TEDx speaker in one fell swoop, or from non-athlete to half marathon-runner in three months… then be even more stunned by what happened next.
As a lifelong smarty-pants, I’m kinda used to knowing things. All the same, when it comes to making the very best things happen, what’s possible, or even who I am, I have arrived at the following shocking and liberating truth:
I don’t know squat.
In fact, I believe we all know far less, yet strangely much, much more, than we realize. But before I share the secret to a certain kind of stupidity that can transform your life… let’s talk about you. 🙂
You’ve had some pretty great ideas about what you want in life. Naturally, you set out to make those things happen, and everything turned out exactly the way you thought it would.
Said no one ever!
Those times that everything falls into place, those people with the happiest, most amazing lives — they didn’t happen all by themselves. And exactly according to plan? Not a chance.
You may find that even when you know what you could do — or “should” do — to be your dream-you, you struggle to do those things. Or that the harder you try, the more elusive certain dreams seem.
What if it wasn’t all up to you? What if there was an easier way? A faster way? What if you were in cahoots with a power that attracted so much help and opened so many doors, it was like taking a worm hole through space and time into the world you really want for yourself.
Guess what? You already are.
You may call it your Divine Guidance. You may call it your inspiration, a gut feeling, an inner knowing, or even, serendipity. At it’s most realized, you literally have the power and wisdom of the entire Universe, at your service. Why not use this secret power more often?
Maybe because… there’s a hitch.
That hitch makes me an unlikely voice for letting “the Universe” help connect you to your bliss. For most of my life, bliss wasn’t even on my radar. I knew little of this thing called “help.” I trusted in my intellect, ate textbooks for breakfast, and struggled through life through sheer force of will.
Because here’s the thing: in order to tap into the infinite power of the Universe, to let it work for you and do what you can’t do for yourself, you’ve got to let go. You got to let go of always being in charge. And, it pains me to say it, but you’ve got to let go… of knowing everything.
Because as important as it can be to think through things, as awesome as it is to learn and use that good stuff stored in your non-trial-size noggin… your intuition/Divine Guidance/the Universe knows even more.
My brain vs. the Universe #1:
How many solutions are there to a problem? GO.
Me: One. My solution.
Universe: Infinite, baby! There are literally infinite possible arrangements of the vibrating energy strings, people, things and circumstances of the entire world of existence.
My response: “Look, I’m anxious in groups, I won’t know anyone but Pamela, and it’s on the west freakin’ coast–I can’t even cover the cost of the retreat, much less plane fare to California. Get real.”
I.V.C.W.: “Must. Be. At. RETREEEAT!!!”
I ended up joining the Retreat organizing team, and soon after, my folks offered me a free plane ticket! To Sedona. En route, suffering only mild heart palpitations, I did something I “would never do:” accepted the airline’s no-fee, extra-special, in-flight credit card offer. Using those bonus miles, I bought a ticket to California for $35.
That was just the beginning. Pamela’s retreat blew my modest hopes out of the wind-blown waves. I’d delayed my post-retreat return flight for a few extra unplanned-days (who IS this person?!), then became lulled into such a (strange) state of inner trust that I spent the entire wad of vacation money I’d scraped together on… a fancy hotel room.
My brain vs. the Universe #2:
What’s the relative importance of things?
Me: “Should do’s” = important. Everything else = too bad.
“Fancy hotel room” made little sense to my rational self, who was leaning toward the $25 a night hostel. Instead, I skipped San Francisco, a car, even a taxi, hauling my suitcase on and off public transit ’til I found myself greeted by name (then and each time I walked through the front door) at the adorable Spindrift Inn. And from the security of that canopy-bed, hardwood-floor, in-room-fireplace feeling of ‘home,’ I biked up and down the coast and went kayaking with wild otters and seals.
When I got home, my ex-boyfriend had taken a wall down in my house–as a favor. My bedroom came to resemble that boutique-hotel haven, and my life, that kayak adventure.
All this sounding a little too lalala for you? Wanna work a little harder for your bliss? No worries. Following your inspiration is not about avoidance or escapism. You may find yourself skipping steps or taking them out of order, yet working with an intensity that leaves your workaholic friends in awe.
Case in point: For years, I harbored a secret dream of being a speaker. However, with no best-selling book, million-hits blog, or Olympic gold medals, I wasn’t sure where to start. Then, last summer, I saw a call for speaker proposals for a nearby TEDx event.
Inner Voice of Cosmic Wisdom: “This is IT, you TED-talk-obsessed, slightly-New-Agey, idealistic brainiac! This is your chance! You can do this!!!”
Me: “You can’t just make shit up, and expect people to listen to you.”
I.V.C.W.: “You can try.”
I tried. And failed. To complete the application! Three weeks later, poking around the website, I saw there was still time, and I ground out a proposal that had a beginning, a middle, and, miracle of miracles, an end.
Getting chosen brought a brief moment of euphoria before the terror set in. For weeks, my room filled up with drafts, more drafts, tears, more tears, and more drafts. Finally, I drew the talk as a diagram on a door-sized piece of foam board, ended it with a poem (thanks, Don,) and scheduled five practice talks.
M first practice talk: Super! Bad! Four more later, I was live, mic’d up, being videotaped, and in front of a TEDx audience. The talk worked. And as people came up to me after, I realized: ‘I am now a speaker.’
My brain vs. the Universe #3:
What’s best way to get from A to Z?
Me: Start at A. Go to B. Then go to C. Get through this 26 times, and you might make it to Z.
Universe: Start at A, repeating it three times. Skip to M, then loop back to L. Next: rosebush. Now go to your niece’s band concert. BAM! You’re at Z, surprise! Hey, Q looks nice.
Your Inner Voice of Cosmic Wisdom may bonk you over the head. Or it may offer low-key guidance such as what foods to eat or how to lead your day. You may need to slow down and listen, write a dialog, or enlist a guide to your Guide. In fact, how do you know you are listening, and not just taking a misguided detour to hell?
Here’s a hint: the voice saying, “If I don’t do this, then [disaster]” or “I feel like doing X because I’m too scared to do Y,” is probably not your Cosmic Wisdom. When partnering with the Universe, you may feel scared as a result of taking action (or of letting go of a “should do” action,) but fear is not why you’re taking the action.
You may feel thrilled, scared, confident, vulnerable, relieved, or even perplexed following your Inner Voice of Cosmic Wisdom. But if you slow down and listen in below the hubbub, you should discover a part of you that knows you’re on the right track — that inner “YES.”
This can carry you through when you really don’t know why you’re inspired to do something (and your friends and family are like, “huh?”) For example, I couldn’t run a quarter mile, and had no intention of doing so, when my Inner Voice of Cosmic Wisdom spotted photos of smiling faces from an all-women’s half marathon around Central Park.
I.V.C.W: “Wow. Running umpteen miles in NYC with thousands of actual athletes — wouldn’t that be an adventure! I wonder if, three months from now, I could possibly finish the race before the 4-hour cut-off!”
Me: “Yeah, nice pics. Too bad you hate running and you suck. (And how exactly would attempting said ‘adventure’ help me with my Real Concerns of building a business or finding a mate?) What is the point of me, a non-runner, slogging on for a giant bunch of miles and hours and weeks for a single event I have to pay for to endure and probably fail?!”
To my own constant amazement, I did do the slogging, the hours, and the race. Faster than I ever dreamed I could. And my time was nothing compared to this soul-opening insight: even my concepts about who I am (or am not: an athlete) might be up for grabs.
(Plus, if I hadn’t followed my Inner Voice of Cosmic Wisdom, I’d never have the stories for this article, or be entering it into a contest hosted by my favorite blogging guru/how-to website!)
So let’s review. But first, why not tap into this power right now! Pick one area of your life that feels a bit stale, stuck, or just not fan-freakin-tastic at the moment. Then take just *5 minutes* at the least–go ahead and set a timer–to try the following:
A) Start your 5-minute walk, meditation, or journal session by asking your inspiration/intuition/Inner Voice of Cosmic Wisdom for a fresh thought or action step. B) Listen. C) If you get something, take that step–no matter how irrelevant or miniscule it might seem. Share your results with Pamela and I! D) Do it again tomorrow.
And don’t forget these 5 keys to letting your ‘secret power’ do for your life what you can’t:
1) Let go of thinking you know everything.
Explore, learn, get good advice, yes! And open up to having what you ‘know’ get turned upside down. Embrace your utter cluelessness in the face of the infinite Universe.
2) Let go of struggle.
This can be a toughie. (Irony noted.) Struggle rarely feels like a choice. How can you trust when your life is the pits?! Start by going easy on yourself. The opposite never works. Let go one day, and one burdensome thought, at a time. It’s not all up to you! Open up to help, to joy, to inspiration. Even if it seems far-fetched now, lean into your heart’s desire with affection, instead of despair.
3) Let go of expectations.
Plans are great. Make some. Start following them! And now open up to surprises. Let go of seeing things only at a certain scale. Open to small gifts. Open to greatness!
Even when things go awry, try not to assume they’re going wrong. Consider the beauty of the unforeseen twist.
4) Let go of control.
It’s not just dedication and skill that lead to greatness. It’s taking a risk and letting go that makes the great athlete, the great musician, the great leader, and the great life. Open to uncertainty. Open to your emotions. Appreciate the ride. The destination is mostly a decoy.
5) Let go of over-doing.
I can hear some of you taking charge already. “I need that inspiration, that cosmic partnership, and this is how I’m doing it, starting now!” Glad you’re excited but… relax. It’s not about pounding it out. Overwork or over-indulgence can be ways of avoiding yourself. And you can’t tap into what the Universe is trying to tell you, show you or give to you if you’re avoiding yourself. Open to spaciousness. Open to listening.
Don’t worry about missing an offer or a message from the Universe. It’s alright. It’s not going anywhere.
P.S. After my half marathon, I immediately signed up for more races, then was sidelined by knee pain. I was crushed. However, I rediscovered Pete Egoscue’s “Pain Free” on my bookshelf, and started doing the exercises.
Remarkably, the exercises are helping my bones actually move and re-align. My hips, knees, legs and even shoulders seem to be recovering from ‘imperfections’ I’ve had as long as I can remember. It’s like I’m actually getting younger. Now I thought that truly was impossible! Shows how much I know. 😉
– – – –
Sophie Somerfeldt is a community organizer, educator, coach, artist, writer, speaker, and visionary. She lives in a home of her own design in EcoVillage at Ithaca, and recently founded joyconspiracy.net.