We cannot script our lives. We can only discover them day by day and, in our reflections, learn how our intentions have formed the narrative of our experience. Without intention we wander, puzzled in our backward glances at the randomness of it all, feeling adrift in the present and concerned about the future. With intention we learn to pay attention, discovering how our hopes compliment life’s unfolding, sometimes in ways we want, more often in ways we need.
Had I known when I started this project that “Day 50” – the halfway mark – would fall on my daughter’s tenth birthday I would have laughed at the coincidence. The significance of her birth and growth into such an extraordinary young person and the opportunity to celebrate it in the middle of summer – a time of such energy and emergence – is at the heart of what this experience is trying to teach me: connection is always right here. It is so easy, so tempting to look beyond what is closest and most personal as if it couldn’t possibly satisfy my heart’s desire. But I do that, we all do at times, because connecting with what is nearest also brings the greatest risk of loss. If I simply open my arms to who is before me, a young girl who loves her daddy, I am both overwhelmed by joy and stung by the letting go. Even so, would I dare refuse that embrace? Would I go searching for something “more” as if it could even approach the potency of that relationship? There is no need to go looking for what is right before me. There is only a decision to accept it as it is – all of it – or go on pretending that connection and disconnection are not forever intertwined.
As I review the photographs of the last twenty-five days I see a shift towards greater intimacy and awareness. I see more family – my beautiful wife, my charming nieces (even a great-niece!), my children – I see friendship, I see my home, the evidence of a day-to-day life. I also see more of myself reflected in the images I have captured. I see the way that I am gradually becoming the thing to which I am paying attention and how, in doing so, the more connection I create. As I share this experience with others, they want to help me connect. Curiosity leads to conversation and eventually to stories. Everyone has a connection story. Everyone wants to share, to be heard. My daughter frequently asks me “is that for your connections, daddy?” She is noticing, too.
As I move into the second half of this “project” my intention is a simple one: to start close in, noticing and receiving the connection that is here and now.
It is intoxicating to be an explorer, captivated by the possibility of hidden treasure. An even greater discovery, though, is in learning how to value what we have already found.
DAVID BERRY is the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world, especially the parts where he doesn’t handle it very well. If you enjoyed this post someone else might, too. Please pass it along.