Can there be too much of a good thing?

Today’s Reflection is about an irony of life. At least, one of them.

I love what I do. It is both personal and professionally speaking, though right now the focus is more on the latter. Currently, there are four different graduate-level courses on a variety of topics happening in parallel, and various other individual and organizational clients. And a few projects of my own. And then that “PhD thing” lurking somewhere, feeling slightly neglected. The topics are ones that I absolutely love and am passionate about, from coaching to leadership to personal development to entrepreneurship. In the courses, I love the students probably even more than the topics themselves. They are engaged, passionate about the learning and ways to make a difference in the larger picture, intelligent and creative, and also bring a healthy dose of challenge into our learning environments, just to make sure we (the faculty) don’t become too complacent. An ideal combination really.

“The Gods have two ways of dealing harshly with us. The first is to deny us our dreams, and the second is to grant them.” – Oscar Wilde

And then, just as I am about to finish teaching one of the courses (only 24 more final papers to read and grade) and savour a bit of a quiet time, two more emails and two more teaching opportunities of the same topics that I love, with both the same and different universities. Great. Awesome. Cool. They keep knocking on the door. Wait. What about my other plans? I was thinking of taking a time out and breath. Damn. Now what do I do?

“I beg you… to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then someday far in the future you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

The strong need and desire to know the answer, right now, is one that is all too common to many. Being in the unknown, in the mystery, in the place were we have no comfort of knowing past, present, and future – is not a place people are often looking forward to. We want to know, to be certain, to avoid that state of discomfort of not knowing, of not being seen as the expert, the one “who has it all together,” the one in control, the one comfortably in control. Here, having the right answer, right now, is everything.

Yet, life teaches us that there are no such places. At least, not for any substantial periods of time. A brief and fleeting moment, of seeming certainty, here and there, merely to tease and lure us into complacency. We relax, drop our defenses, stretch and breath deep. In that very moment, something changes, and we are thrown back into the mystery of the unknown.

Can there be too much of a good thing? Can it cause overwhelm? And if so, are we allowed – spiritually, karmically, metaphysically – to say NO to the Universe, when it (not an adequate descriptor, I know) keeps sending our way more and more of what we want? I mean, what if I say NO and the Universe will reply with, “OK, I guess you don’t want it any more, and so I am done with you. Black-booked for the next few reincarnations.” A scary thought.

“We do not have enough peace. Yet peace will never be attained by perpetual action. Stirred water never has the chance to settle clear. A tree buffeted by winds can never grow straight.” – Deng Ming-Dao

And, by the way, in case you are still wondering – I said yes and I said no.

A sunny week to you all, inside and out.

Simon Goland