Not long ago my wife brought home a DVD of Leonard Cohen in concert in London from our local library. She has the knack of picking up books and movies that speak to me even though I myself would not have chosen them. This is one of those meaningful surprises.
If you have ever watched Leonard Cohen sing you realize that he is more of a poet than singer. When I heard him speak the lines, “ Ring the bells that can ring, forget your perfect offering,” I realized these words had real potency.
Serve now, Perfect later. As often is the case when something resonates with me it has to do with my own life. I have often been someone who puts off offering what I have in favor of waiting to perfect it. Unfortunately that sometimes means relinquishing the opportunities to be of service sooner rather than later. No More! Today I will begin to Ring the Bells that Can Ring and forget my perfect offering. Perhaps you will join me.
Here are a few tips I believe can help ring those bells:
• Know What Belongs. In other words, know what makes you tick. You have a way of being in the world that is uniquely you. This way of being includes what you’ve always loved, what you’ve always sought, what you’ve always enjoyed learning about, and what talents come naturally to you. It’s worth getting to know your self without apology. Sometimes self-reflection works, sometimes noticing what feels good as you act in the world is the key.
• Become by Choosing. You become who you want to be by the choices you make, or don’t make. To ring the bells that can ring, we need to do something toward what matters. Create a project-of-being. What could be a project you would devote yourself to that would provide an opportunity to use yourself well, express yourself well, grow you well and contribute to someone or some thing that really matters? Give up trying to find the perfect life purpose just find the beam that calls to you and follow it. Walking makes true paths.
• See Your Ordinary Moments as Carriers of Meaning. There are moments that live on. They live in each of us and contain our deep joy and delight. These transports of joy can summon us to be more than we know ourselves to be. The beauty here is that these moments remain constant. We only need give them attention and listen to their annunciations and directional signals.
• Ask a Different Question. Rather than ask who will let me do what I want to do, ask the deeper question: What do the gods intend through me? Quit trying to get collective approval from your group or parents and begin to focus on using yourself well. How could you help? Who could you help? What needs done in the world that you could do something about?
It is time to see things as they are…and something more. Within each moment we can help create what is coming to be. There is much to be done in our world and we each have something very unique to offer. Don’t work about getting it right before you offer your self, there is plenty of time to revisit and revise later. What you have now is enough to start. To use an old Quaker term: “proceed as way opens.”