Have you heard of The Secret? Of course you have. It was a mass-marketed, highly successful movie and book that experienced a trendiness in part thanks to big names like Oprah. The general idea of was simple. You think about what you want, visualize it, and the universe delivers it to your doorstep??!!
When I first heard about it, I was intrigued. The appeal for me was the irony. I considered most celebrities to be shallow, fake, and far from anything truly spiritual.
It was promoted as mystical, deep, and philosophical which all seemed in harsh contrast against the backdrop of fame, wealth, and material success. To be honest, it seemed like some way-out there hikki-tikki weirdness and I was like Ok Oprah, what do you know about that? Of course I watched it.
I put in the DVD with skepticism, but also expecting to be fully entertained by the hilarity. As I listened to the ideas and principles I quickly changed my demeanor. I wanted to think it was ridiculous, but some part of me was disarmed and intrigued. I wondered if there was any truth to the ideas, any truth to the principles.
I thought about any of the good things that had come to fruition in my own life and the process of how they had come into being. Had these same principles been a part of that process?
In the days following watching the secret, I looked around my life, and didn’t like some of the things I saw. I came to see that in many ways I had settled for less than I wanted. In many ways I was just blindly living day to day with a vague sense of hope that the life I really wanted to live would naturally just happen, someday.
Maybe it wouldn’t, I mean who really gets what they want in life…people with money and fame? The ones that have everything handed to them? The few, the elite, the lucky, the Oprahs?
As life continued on, I couldn’t shake the ideas I had heard. With some mild resentment I would look at my poor circumstance and sarcastically think “Oh, I will just manifest myself right out of this, because it’s so easy.” One instance I was at work, in a terrible tiny, outdated office cubical, surrounded by other miserable employees. This was the kind of office where the only water cooler conversation was about how any of us were going to get out of there.
As I walked to the water cooler, drained and defeated, I caught a glimpse of something brightly colored. At the managers desk there was a beautiful photo of a pink and purple flower. Its vibrancy and naturalness stood out like a beacon of light in the sea of 1960’s sickly green and faux wood office furniture. It was the only good thing.
I complimented the manager on her photograph and entered the conversation that would change my life. She opened up about her passion for photography. She revealed that she had carried a life-long dream to be a professional photographer. I too loved art and photography. Hell, I would love to be a professional photographer too!
Too bad that wasn’t in the cards for people like us. A DREAM WAS JUST A DREAM FOR PEOPLE LIKE US. DREAMS WERE JUST A PRETTY PICTURE PIERCED AND PINNED TO THE UGLY CUBICLE WALL OF OUR REALITY. That was how it would stay. She had worked there begrudgingly for the past 20+ years, and she just took pictures in her free time to help escape from the sadness and stress of that life.
This woman’s story struck sheer terror in my heart and soul. I couldn’t wrap my head around why she would stay in something she hated for 20+ years, and then I realized that I had already spent a year of my life doing the exact same thing. Isn’t that how it happens? One year of getting by in our unhappy lives leads to 5, and 10 and 20. I was so disturbed by the fact that if I didn’t change, I would become this very woman.
I wish I could thank her for being a mirror. I wish I could tell her she changed my life. How do you tell someone thank you through saving me through your example of what I don’t want to be. You don’t. You can’t. You can however lead. You can however change. You can take action and cut a path, and hope that someone else can be saved. I really hope she reads my blog. I really hope she is taking pictures. I really hope you’re taking pictures too.
As I sat back down, utterly freaked out by the direction of my life, I knew I had to change things but had zero ideas on how. There were so many reasons why I couldn’t. So many obstacles. So many forces that could keep me in this chair for the next 20 – LIFE. Nearly panicked, my mind searched desperately for any solution, any way out. Confined to my cubicle walls, I searched for a tool I could use to escape. I had pen and a paper, and my MIND. All of the sudden the ideas from the secret seemed to whisper to me from the last reserves of hope with in me. At this time they seemed like my only hope. What if there was truth in those principles? What if there was a way to change things?
The secret had said to visualize what I wanted. At that moment all I knew is I wanted to be a photographer, pursuing my dreams, my passion, my CHANCE at happiness, rather than sitting in that cubicle. I thought it’s probably silly, but you know the best way to find out is to try it. So, I took my pen and I drew a little stick figure version of myself, with a stick figure of my son (I only had one child at this time.) and a camera around my neck. I felt better. I felt like maybe that image was a possible reality. For the
next few days every time I was at work I drew this same figure. If nothing else, it made me feel a little bit of hope.
It turns out a little bit of hope is a HUGE thing.
Now, the part that the gets really exciting. This new goal had emerged for me. This new idea, new, replenished hope that maybe I could be a photographer. Maybe I could go a different path. The funny thing is when we have a new idea, sometimes we talk about it. I didn’t go about trying to announce my dream, but when friends or family would ask how work was, instead of just talking about how terrible it was I mentioned that I was interested in pursuing art and photography again.
One friend of my family said “Oh, I think there is an opening at a photography studio because someone quit. They could give you a recommendation.”
This people is called a window of opportunity! Nothing happens if you don’t take it. I was so terrified of my alternative option that I jumped at the chance immediately. I wasn’t held back by fear. I did not have experience as a professional photographer. I did not have a degree. I had hope, I had passion, and I had a fierce determination. I also was grateful. I also was a little mystified and in awe of what had happened. Less than two weeks had passed since I had started drawing the image of myself with a camera. Seriously. Had the secret worked?
Today, I am a professional photographer, and business consultant, life-coach, artist and head of a happy household. There are no ugly cubicle walls in my life. Do I owe this to the secret? The secret opened my mind to the idea that I had a chance to live a life I LOVED. My circumstance vs. my hopes had created a need to experiment with those ideas. I had a goal, and I had focus. I looked for opportunity and met it.
Was there a little magic that allowed the opportunity to present itself? I think that is the secret, life is abundantly full of possibilities, and those possibilities exist for each and every one of us. Let’s go look at the possibilities…but, shh, it’s a secret.