There is a large black footlocker trunk sitting in my laundry room. It is not full of Pirate treasure but it is full of the things an eleven year old boy might consider of infinite value.
A quick inventory reveals: goggles, sugary sweet chewing gum – the kind that makes the best bubbles, two ridiculously large bags of candy that I have made him promise to share with his cabin mates, a copy of Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes, a one-off Sandman comic book that retells an old Japanese folk tale, and a copy of Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park. There is a sketch book, Blackwing pencils, and a Trapper Keeper full of paper for journaling and drawing. He is going to try to sneak in his retro Sony Walkman. I don’t think it’s going to work.
I remember doing this last year.
It was the first time that I had packed my child off to a two-week overnight camp and it was the first time anyone in my family had gone on an extended overnight camp. Having Venus in Virgo I approached the whole thing with ruthless organization, taking care to pack 14 pairs of shorts, 14 shirts, and 14 pairs of socks and underwear, each individually bagged and labeled with his name.
Often, we are told, that this is what success looks like. It looks like 14 nice and neat outfits zipped up and labeled. It looks like organization and teams and outsourcing. It looks like having every single detail present and accounted for.
Once upon a time, I took a business course where the teacher basically said you wouldn’t be able to run your business…or even start your business…if you didn’t have certain things in place first. Things like a logo, a professionally developed website, and a housecleaner…because who has time do laundry when you need to WORK? Looking around me, talking to other members of the program, I could hear the anxiety. They would follow the program, spend thousands of dollars on a logo before they even knew what offering they wanted to put out to their community. They would hire that housekeeper even though there wasn’t really money to do it…because that is what was required before they could be successful. You will not be surprised to learn that most graduates from that particular course end up not running the business of their dreams or it folds in a few years.
This doesn’t just happen in business.
It happens everywhere. In art-making, book writing, and song-singing. In every creative endeavor you can think of there is an industry…an entire industry…that is all about telling you what you need to have/do/be BEFORE you get to the work of your heart.
Let us return to camp. Imagine my surprise, dear readers, when the camp pictures (proof of life as I like to think of them) started rolling in. By day 3 it was clear that my child, and his cabin mates were wearing the same clothes they had been wearing on day one. I think maybe they changed on day 5. There was a rodeo dance somewhere in all of this and so they had to put on a nice shirt and jeans for that. Day 7 may have seen the final change of clothes. I did not pick up my child from camp last year (my dad did) but I am pretty sure he looked and smelled more like the river his camp is situated on, than the soap I had ensured he had an ample supply of. On the upside, I had about ten perfectly packaged outfits that required zero washing!
Let me tell you what is NOT in my child’s trunk this year. There are not 14 different shirts and 14 different shorts and pairs of socks. No. There are about 5 outfits. A sweatshirt, (why does he need this when temps have been over 100 degrees pretty much every day? I don’t know. He says its cool by the river in the morning…I think he is experimenting with mind over matter) a pair of beat-up outdoor sandals, and one pair of pajama pants, a pair of jeans and snap button shirt for the dance. He probably will use half of the clothes I have packed for him.
As for me, I approached the entire situation with a lot less stress than I did last year because I learned that it actually takes a lot less than we think it does, a lot less than we are told it does.
My child had an amazing time at camp last year. He will have another amazing time this year. Why? Because he is fully present, not distracted, working his mind and his body, hanging out outside and being with people he cares about. That’s really all that is required to have a good time, really all that is required to have a good life. He is getting down to the work of his heart. And really, that’s all you need. All that is required to do your creative work, to make your mark, to share your vision.
How many times a day do you catch yourself saying or thinking something along the lines of: “if I only had this, it would be so much better.” That if only you had or did this one thing THEN you could do the work of your heart? How many times a day are you TOLD this by someone else – be it a single person or an entire culture?
Might I invite you to listen more to my eleven year old (and your inner eleven year old self) you already have what you need. You have the vision, the idea, the burning devotion, the calling. You have it!
As for the rest? Well, it takes a lot less than you think.
PS: If you are feeling overwhelmed in your life right now then you may want to join me next Thursday, July 28th 2022 at 3pm cdt because I’ll be leading a free, hands-on workshop on how to create more space, more time, and more abundance in your life…immediately. You can get details here and RSVP right here.