“Water is the softest thing, yet it can penetrate mountains and earth. This shows clearly the principle of softness overcoming hardness” — Lao Tzu
I love this quote. I love thinking that relentless softness can erode what appears intractable and immoveable. The visual of solid ground acceding to the dampening of the earth, redefining its crags and layers of stubborn solidity by the insistence of water, becoming a rivulet and ultimately a stream.
And then there’s the old water torture visual (drops falling rhythmically and slowly on one’s forehead) which is far more reflective of my state of mind at the moment. And may I say? The drops aren’t particularly doing much except making me feel like I’m getting a dent in my head.
Over the past two years, I’ve been contacted by executive recruiters asking about my interest in C-level positions – law firms, professional service firms – and I’ve never considered pursuing the inquiries. Last week I did, and yesterday I withdrew my candidacy. It was the drops you see. The persistent drops – “Do you have the chops to do this again?” “You don’t have the chops to do this again” “Do you want to do this again?” “Wanting is irrelevant – what if they find me too old (that’s illegal and I’m way too immature, but…), too irreverent, too out there, not out there enough” “But do you want to do this again” “I want parts of it and I don’t want parts of it” “That’s no answer, Mim” “Can you repeat the question?”…and so on.
And so it went until I was desperately seeking a xanax or at least someone to turn off the faucet. Oh, did I mention that I have a skosh of a problem calling a plumber when I really need one (figuratively speaking of course)? “My family will think less of me for walking away” “They will not, you doof” “Yeah, they will” This is ridiculous. I am ridiculous. Full stop.
I write Andy and the boys, send an email to two of my dearest friends. Aaron writes back first – “You’ve earned the right to be whatever you want to be…therapist, elephant hygienist..” (I love that kid). Paul chimes in next – “I think you should get re-accredited to be a therapist”..and paraphrasing here, ‘so happy you will pursue what you want’ (I love that kid too). Andy, oh Andy – with his platitudes and deft application of the cliché, rejected both and just reminded me that who I am makes him proud enough. ‘Do what you want, and if you don’t know what that is just yet, that’s ok too’ (I don’t feel that it is, but may I say that he’s a rock star). And my friends..”I’m so happy you said no; I didn’t want to have to share you with that many people” (she’d never have to). “You made the right decision – besides, I think you should write a book!” And here I sit, with a different type of water – the kind that traces down one’s cheeks, gracing each wrinkle, tickling my jaw as they meander down my neck.
How bewildering to be in my renaissance and discover that I am still arguing with these voices of doubt? How breathtaking to realize that with a little effort, I can change a path that has been shaped by years and years of the drip, drip, drip, drip of my own design? I am changing the flow, I am going to try to be more purposeful with this one life I have. Remember my passion, follow my fascinations, remember that it was my sense of integrity and what I believe to be right that prompted my decision to turn around and re-route.
There’s a place for me – little, idiosyncratic, idealistic, sometimes-savvy me. I’m not sure where just yet, and I have to be okay with that for now. For with absolute certainty I can tell you, within me there’s a river.
63 thoughts on “The Relentless Drops Of Water”
And the river will guide you in its calm waters to where you should be. The journey will be a reawakening of whats important and lies within you. It’s your renaissance and you have earned the right to follow your heart. The cheering section is on the banks of the river applauding the courage and risk you are taking, and because I know you, somewhere along the bank of the river you will begin to unravel the clues you need for the next chapter to begin. And, I have no doubt, nor should you, that it will begin. At first with a whisper that will eventually lead to full disclosure of what you want to do and how you can accomplish the task. Concentrate on the beauty of the stream and find the peace in your heart. Carry your friends with you in your heart as well for extra support because we all believe you will find what you are looking for. Recognize all that was implicit in the recognition of this struggle by your “boys” as well as their support of your happiness. I know the journey for the next chapter was supposed to reveal itself already. It will – soon. The possibilities are endless and Mimi as sure as I’m sitting here “you’ve got magic to do” and you will get to do it. Much love this Wednesday morning.
You turned my faucet on again Jo – as your magnificent words and heart typically do. This is all part of the discovery and sometimes a little self-patience is in order. Love you all there is and thank you again for your wonderfulness – in word, in deed, in spirit, in friendship..
I’m glad you’re listening to yourself, Mimi. The wisdom to be honest with yourself and say: “I don’t want this” is the true gift. Along with the advice and support of your wonderful family and friends – they’re mirroring what you’re already feeling. And I loved all the water metaphors.
Hi Cathy, Thank you very much..I’m trying to listen to myself (despite the incredible cacaphony in there!!). The water metaphors seemed apt -the visual is staying with me, which I think is good. I really appreciate your ‘atta gir’ for I value your thoughts greatly.
Ah! Now I know where you’ve been! When you started talking about ‘drip drip drip’ I thought you were still fighting the runny nose!
Chris should be so proud of you…surely all this mental wrestling counts as workouts.
Please be nice to our Mimi … tell her she’s wonderful! wherever and in whatever she does.
Ah Carrie, I love you..I am definitely going to try and be a little nicer to her today…And would that all this mental wrestling help whip one into shape!!!
Absolutely the best writing I’ve come across in my daily readings today! You open up your veins and bring us right into your journey of self,and what a gift it was to be a part of. Typically, metaphor’s don’t work, but with this one …. I wanted to check my faucets and then go take a plunge in my nearby river … very powerful, inspiring, and honest. Best kind of writing there is. Thank you for this!!!!!
I am overwhelmed by your beautiful words and the generosity with which you share them – thank you so, so much!!
Exquisite, gorgeous, mellifluous, piercing…..Can you tell that I liked it?! 🙂
There most definitely IS a place for you and your prodigious talents, honey.Continue to allow yourself the time and space to find it. You deserve joy in your life…every single day.
“The quest for certainty blocks the search for meaning. Uncertainty is the very condition to impel man to unfold his powers.” –Erich Fromm
Erich and I would have been great friends. But no words could delight as yours do..after all, are these not the discussions we have had of late? And how wonderful is that? xoxo
Indeed, honey, wonderful indeed. I am so grateful for you, Mimi, every single day…. Xox, l
It’s a mutual gratitude Lori, believe me..xox, m
Both the rock and the water are changed – one conforms to the other…
Resistance isn’t always strength – giving way isn’t always weakness… 🙂
Very true…thank you for this message..
Lori- I love that quote!
Mimi- I’m right there with you. Sometimes when you’ve spent your entire life doing what you needed to do it’s tough to be okay with doing what is best just for you or even figuring out what the hell that might be. The uncertainty is a killer but don’t cut the process off by needing to know the outcome. You are definitely on the right path. Really beautiful writing as always! xx
Hi Maureen – and thank you. Your words really resonate with me today. Giving one’s self permission is a really hard concept for me to learn – though I am going to get it through this thick head come hell or high water..xox
Such an inspiring post. I always questioned and had teachers tell me that for anything, especially for school sometimes you just got to suck it up and write what the teacher/rubric wants even if it’s bare pickings of what should be otherwise possibly interesting, so it’s encouraging to hear you take a step for yourself. After all, I do believe rivers, the natural un-dammed ones make way for themselves given time. But elephant hygienist, you just must. Imagine the water gracing their wrinkles and ticklig their chin.
If I lived near some elephants, I’d definitely do it. But in Washington all of our elephants are Republicans. 🙂
Lol! Darn. Well they’d do well with some rinsing as well.
I suppose- I don’t hold much stock in our politicians, but at the least I expect them to be able to brush their own teeth! 😉
I can identify so much with this. I love the way you are approaching the idea of change – you are an inspiration!
I think YOU are the inspiration Julie – on a daily basis..
How fortunate you are to have such a great support system. What is interesting is that while you are waiting….you are are doing. Every person looking at their screen finds you a critical part of their own support system. So I retract….you are not waiting, but doing. Maybe you just didn’t realize the depth? hugs ♥
I’m sitting here staring at your comment and I am so damn speechless and humbled and touched. To think that I could be a support system for anyone out in this cyber community fills me with more delight and warmth than you could ever imagine. I have never thought of this, never considered for a moment that anything I put out there could matter with any depth to another. I am so appreciative – and clearly not expressing myself well enough. Thank you so, so much..hugs..<3
♥♥♥ appreciate you, friend.
As I do you dear friend – as I do you. Hugs and more hugs, m
Hi Mimi. I think you are exactly where you are supposed to be at this very moment. Inspiring others, loving your family and having the courage to continue to ask yourself the tough questions in life. You are an inspiration to me, and many others as is evidenced by the responses above. xo
I am so happy that you and I are still in touch and that I get the benefit of your unfailing support and friendship. It is my hope that I can return that kindness many times over, for you are truly a remarkable woman and friend. xox
Thank you for beautifully articulating what most of us at this stage of life must be feeling. Your words deeply resonated with me and you are so fortunate in the support you are receiving from friends and family. Too often we fall back in what we know for certainty/security and don’t give ourselves the space to really know our heart. All the best for the rest of the journey, Mimi.
Hi there and thank you so much for your beautiful and supportive words. I am very very fortunate, blessed with a magnificent family and friends. And I so agree with you – our tendency to fall back on the familiar at the expense of understanding what our heart’s calling may be. I am going to listen hard over these next few weeks. I wish for us all to have a fabulous journey – wherever it leads..xo
Authentic. Period. You go Girl.
“I am changing the flow, I am going to try to be more purposeful with this one life I have.”
🙂 Thanks Dave – I’m trying.
Like David I’m trying to change my flow…for years I did what others wanted now I try to live in the moment of what I want. I guess when you are semi-retired you realize there really is only this life on this earth and you need to be at purpose with the intent of the life.
Indeed – the thrill and the challenge of this time in our lives. The desire/need to make sure we ‘get it right’. Thanks Linda
No for doubt, you are amazing.
🙂 I’m blushing (and happy)..thank you!
How, wonderful that you have a choice Mimi of what you choose to do 🙂
Agreed Tina – it is a luxury without a doubt.
Great post Mimi–and you can’t imagine how much better it makes me feel that you have insecurities like this too. I’ve seen you in action–you’re really, really good at your prior profession. It never would have occurred to me that you ever doubted your “chops.”
But there is no question that, as your friend advised, it’s time for you to write a book. You are an incredible writer and you have so much to offer-wisdom, spirit, humor, craziness. You are a treasure to be shared–
It’s funny Jill – I think of our friendship and forget that we met all those years ago at the firm. But yes, I am riddled with self-doubt and sophisticated rationalizations to support the veracity of each and every one. It’s a gift. 😉 I’m pretty sure I’m not all that you perceive me to be, though I am not going to write anything further to dissuade you. The book is a possibility – a real one. Maybe. love you, m
Oh, Mimi. I could have written this post.Sometimes I wonder if I’m crazy because of the many years I spent planning my next chapter, only to look longingly back ( well, not really back, but sideways) at similar opportunities from my past. Is it that the past seems more familiar?
I am so fortunate to be able to chart my new path. Yet, sometimes I long for someplace to join. Have structure to a day. Be on a team. Yikes, I’m even ready for deadlines. The irony is that I must be still before it will come to me. But stillness is difficult after so many years of chasing. Sigh.
I’m with you Susan – all the way. It is a luxury to be able to consider one’s path, a freedom not accorded everyone certainly. And yet that requisite stillness upends me too. In my professional history it’s all been about effective, timely results. Yet here I sit struggling to hear myself? Ah well..it’s going to come – for us both. We need patience Grasshopper. 😉
And the Renaissance spanned how many centuries? Give yourself a little time. Be patient.
Laughing – fair point. Thank you Angeline..
I thought this quote fitted in with the drip, drip, dripping you describe. Even though it appears to relate to deep grief, I have always thought that it also describes the slow steady processing of hard decisions in one’s life.
“Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom” from speech by Robert Kennedy, after the death of Martin Luther King, quoting an excerpt of Edith Hamilton’s translation of Agamemnon by Aeschylus.
It is fitting Elizabeth – and tangentially, it amazes me that it’s been 45 years since the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr…
It did not click with me, 45 years today. There must be some hidden meaning in me thinking of that quote today then.
Mimi, interestingly enough, I just went through the same dilemma a month ago. While offers are flattering and say to you, “you still have it”, I’m not sure if the “it” is they are referring to is the same “it” I see at this point of my life. After an amazing amount of thought and reflection, I decided it wasn’t and continued with the life I have and that is giving me so much.
I really appreciate your insights Bill..and can relate mightily to the thoughts about the ‘it’ that I see v. the ‘it’ that others my be referencing..:-) Thank you so much.
Since your blog is one of my favourite places to be on the internet, I have to agree with your brilliant friend who suggested you write a book! If it turned out to be anything like what you have here it would be FABULOUS!
I LOVE that you enjoy visiting me (almost as much as I enjoy visiting your site)! I appreciate the support, the faith in talent that I’m not so sure I have – but I am really going to consider it. There may be something within me that could actually do it!! Thank you so much!! hugs,m
AS I was reading this we had a our first shower of rain for five months… water that is so precious… loved all your watery metaphors, and know also from Lao Tzu that: ” be patient and you will achieve all things”…
Gently and well-put Valerie. Patience. A quality I have in abundance with others and in sparse amounts with myself. Thank you.
Right now you are at a good place where your integrity is in tact and your talents are appreciated without the interference of corporate politics and unethical practices. I wish that whatever you do you are trusted and enabled to practice and put forth your superior leadership skills and talents. You have so much to offer and every blog you write is a gift. We try to rush our big decisions to stop the relentless drip that is so draining. I think that you have nothing to lose, no matter what you decide. Fp
I wonder sometimes Fran, how I got so lucky to have ‘met’ you, and can only hope that one day I can return the great gift you have given me with your support and wisdom? You are right – this is a bit of a ‘silken worry’ as my mom used to say – for I do’t have to rush this – I just have to be open enough to let it happen. Thank you so much Fran – for taking the time to always send your generous spirit my way..hugs, m
I say it from the heart, Mimi. I know first hand between a Mimi and a non-Mimi Corp. and the difference is day and night! It’s too darn bad for the good folks. I like the meaning behind “Waiting for the Karma Truck” more and more. It’s good to know that I’m on board with you and “waiting” is being “paitent”. Thanks for your wisdom and for giving me a place to impart my thoughts. xoxo
You are always always welcome here…xox
and that river runs deep and is endless….there is no finish line…be where you are! i love you no matter ..xo
I love you Sus…thank you..xoxo
LOVE that quote, & love the post – great! 🙂 Choice.
Oh my! I can certainly relate to this. I retired from HR management last year. I loved it and found it very fulfilling but it was time for something new. That “something new” is eluding me. I am fearful to commit. I still do training gigs (my first love) but whenever anyone talks about long-term training programs, the hairs on the back of neck stick up. All I know is that I don’t want a full time gig. Maybe I could be a cat trainer (I would love that) or……
We can combine our loves – you take on the cats and I’ll take on the canines!! 🙂