Questions on Enduring with Integrity

Lately I have been pondering the challenge of sustaining effort toward a desired goal. My tendency is to become excited by a new idea, a new project, a new vision, to spend a great deal of energy in the stages of creation, and then to quickly lose enthusiasm when it comes time to make that work real, to make it manifest. The lesson for I need is how to settle into the long-term work of sustaining and nourishing my project, to return to the work regularly and find ways to bring energy or passion to the parts that bore me, sometimes harder than the parts that feel scary.

The Knight of Pentacles, from the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot

I’ve been blessed to know and befriend many passionate people with long-term desire to make change, whether it’s personal change, change in one’s work culture, or change in the world. In my observation, change-motivated people start with dreams, ideals, and passions, and then get to endure the fixed structures and limiting realities that slowly shape that energy into something denser, more grounded, and at times vastly different and more compromised than the original vision. There is work we do because we’re passionate about it, and there is work we do to make money to make our lives possible. Some lucky people are able to find the space where those spheres overlap, but so many of us sacrifice one and dedicate ourselves to the other, which has a cost.

When faced with discouragement and feelings of powerlessness to make change, we might consider taking the route of convenience and power-over. We might forego honesty and integrity to ingratiate ourselves to the holders of power and the status quo. We might bend our life’s will to overcoming adversaries and overlords only to find that we’ve submitted our well-being to the quest for vengeance. If we cannot face that which we hate and resist in ourselves, then we are in danger of becoming it.

I am contemplating how to restore passion and integrity to the process of my daily work, to keep my long-term vision firmly grounded in my everyday tasks and interactions. In turn, I ask how I can keep my vision responsive and open to change without sacrificing my sense of integrity. Too rigid an attachment to my view of how things “should be” could make me ineffective or tyrannical.

What helps you to avoid becoming too fixed in your opinions?

What helps you to refresh your enthusiasm and commitment for your long-term work?

What helps you to remember the journey that you’re on? To be present to the path?

What helps you to hold fast to what matters and let go of what does not?

EDIT: To continue to explore and address these questions, I am organizing a workshop to occur in November. If you are in the Seattle area, please check it out. More to come.