Earl R. Smith II, PhD

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Take a different view. Think of your life as a dance. Some of the steps in that dance are free and easy while others are constrained and laborious. It takes a while. But stay away from judgments about this step or that. Just concentrate on seeing the steps that make up your life. Feel the rhythms that define. Touch the motions of the dance.

Once you have a clearer idea of how your life is working, start to think about the role that each step plays in forming your life experience. Habits are steps. Mostly limiting ones. Things that you do without thinking. Out of reflexes that have built up over the years. Then there are the steps that take you beyond your comfort zone. That take you into unexplored areas and bring new experiences. That make you grow and reach beyond.

Now look at the balance between these two. Is your life mostly proscribed by habits – limiting steps? That is the very definition of being in a rut. Does that make you happy? Is that the way you want to spend the rest of your life? If it is, then you are home – relax. If it is not, its time to think about changing the dance.

Whenever I catch myself settling into a rut, I read a poem by Bill Holm.


Someone dancing inside us
has learned only a few steps:
the “Do-Your-Work” in 4/4 time,
the “What-Do-You-Expect” Waltz.
He hasn’t noticed yet the woman
standing away from the lamp.
the one with black eyes
who knows the rumba.
and strange steps in jumpy rhythms
from the mountains of Bulgaria.
If they dance together,
something unexpected will happen;
if they don’t, the next world
will be a lot like this one.

I reflect on the fact that time is the limiting factor in my life. I can find new opportunities. Think new thoughts. Meet new people. But time – now there is the one thing that is in truly limited supply. And I ask myself, “are you really going to spend this very limited resource running around in the same small circles?”

And so, since the answer is invariably no, I become an adventurer – a seeker of new ways, ideas, thoughts, companions, etc. I notice “the one with black eyes”. Determined to re-balance my life – to overcome the dominance of habits and unthinking actions, I step out in a new direction. And here is the secret that I’ve discovered,

“It doesn’t make much difference which direction your first step takes you. Moving out of the rut begins with a first step in an unexpected direction.”

But there is one thing that is important about that first step. It’s important not to take it alone. The mind will rationalize. Habits will reassert themselves. And “the next world will be a lot like this one.”

Psychologists will tell you that it is important, when you are attempting to break a habit, to go on the record with someone. Build a support group. If you are going on a diet, don’t keep it to yourself. Tell a couple of friends. If you are going to explore a new area, get a traveling companion. In other words, get an accountabuddy or two. Either you are serious about changing the dance or just playing with yourself. And it is a pretty good idea to find and experienced guide to help you avoid the reefs and shoals you are certain to encounter.

And why should you do this? Why should you bestir yourself from the lethargy of habit and become an adventurer? Why? Because the fuse of your life has a length and, when it is run out, there will be no more of you. These mortal coils will fall away. It’s not a morbid thought – but a recognition that this is the way life is. We are all going to die. In his last movie, Orson Wells was reflecting on the fact that all will pass away. He makes the following observation:

Our works in stone, in paint, in print, are spared, some of them, for a few decades or a millennium or two, but everything must finally fall in war, or wear away into the ultimate and universal ash – the triumphs, the frauds, the treasures and the fakes. A fact of life: we’re going to die. “Be of good heart,” cry the dead artists out of the living past. “Our songs will all be silenced, but what of it? Go on singing.”

Are you singing? Or just humming along? Or maybe silence has settled in. The breath you just took is now gone. The next one shears away a piece of the fuse. What will you do with that breath?

There is a difference between us and rocks. Between us and trees. Between us and the molecules and atoms that make up the air we breathe. We, as humans, have a choice. We can decide. Or, we can let our habits decide for is. Let our inertia overtake our ability to choose. Or, we can change the dance.

Issac Newton gave the world three laws of motion. The first one is,

“An object at rest will remain at rest unless acted on by an unbalanced force. An object in motion continues in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.”

But Newton’s first law relates to inanimate objects. And the unbalanced force he refers to comes from outside of that object. But humans are different. You are different. We don’t obey his first law when it comes to our dance of life. Sure, we can become dominated by inertia – stuck in a rut. But the energy to change that – to leave the rut – to change the dance – comes from within ourselves. The exhortation of Bill Holm comes back to us.

If they dance together,
something unexpected will happen;
if they don’t, the next world
will be a lot like this one.

Your life’s dance is for you and your expectations for your life. For you and your dreams. For you and that person inside you that yearns for something different – better – more fulfilling.

I have helped many break out of the coma that their lives have become. To make those journeys along side them and watch a new dance come to life has been one of the great privileges of my life. And it has brought me to a realization. Such a journey is possible for anyone. You can change the dance. You can claim the life that is there for you to live. It is within you to make the next world different from this one.

Ready to make a truly transformational journey? To come to know the person you really are and live the amazing life that is waiting for you? To find your true path. To live the life you were meant to live? Let’s get started on that journey. Send me an e-mail and we’ll arrange a time to chat.

© Earl R. Smith II, PhD