I have always lived a happy average life, but every once in a while, something spectacular would happen… something so wonderful that it made me believe I could be, do, have, everything I wanted… live a truly spectacular life.
One period of time like that was in the ninth grade when I was cast in the leading role of the school musical. I’d wanted to be an actress since I learned what one was at the age of four. Opening night was only a few days away. Family was coming from all over New York to see me. My friends from school would be there and also other friends from my earlier childhood and camp. I’d never felt so completely fulfilled and happy…
I got the news the Monday before curtains up. My best friend whose parents were divorced, had rearranged her weekend with her father so she could be in town to see my play. While with him that previous weekend, she was killed in a car accident. That was when I made the decision that when great things happen to me something bad must happen to someone I love.
I continued living a happy average life but once in a while I’d forget and try to do something spectacular. Each time, something bad would happen and I’d curse myself for wanting more. The fear overwhelmed me. For 20+ years I had incredible audacious goals, but just as I got close, I would sabotage myself because I didn’t want to pay the price with a tragedy. The aftermath pain was always too great compared to the joy of my spectacular moment.
My life became a series of vision boards so wonderful and actions that would keep me fulfilled but never get me too close to the fruition of my goals because that would mean certain pain. I would fly just close enough to the sun to feel its heat and see its beauty but not burn up.
The battle of desire and self-sabotage caused me terrible anxiety and panic attacks. I medicated myself so I could continue living a happy average life and tell myself I was pursuing the spectacular one.
Last year I downloaded Bob Iger’s book, The Ride of a Lifetime, on audible. I listened to his opening where he shares the story of his greatest accomplishment at Disney, his spectacular moment, the opening of Disney Shanghai. The day that he was to cut the red ribbon, one of the most exciting moments not only for him but for the people of Shanghai, he received a phone call. In Disney Orlando, a little boy had been eaten by an alligator. PAUSE…
Yes, we all need to take a breath after reading that. Bob’s highest moment was simultaneously his lowest.
I remember exactly where I was sitting at my dining room table, when Bob’s words played out of my Alexa, and my brain made the connection. It was not just me. There was no correlation between my highest moments and my lowest… it is just how life happens sometimes, and it happens that way to all of us.
Why do I share this with you today? Because, I just returned home from a spectacular experience in the Sierra Mountains where I pushed myself way out of my comfort zone and saw that in doing so I had extraordinary experiences… the types of moments that I was born for, the reason I’m alive… to be not happy but ecstatic in spectacular circumstances… to feel the fear and act in spite of it and be rewarded by memories I will always cherish.
And then I came home and spent the next 24 hours in bed because I found out that something bad had happened. I couldn’t move. I could only cry and reprimand myself for wanting more than a happy average life.
Today, I pulled myself out of that dark place and reminded myself that the grief is the price I pay for loving and caring so much, and I wouldn’t trade that love for anything because I realize my life was never average… it is always spectacular even in heartbreak.
I will continue to dream big audacious goals, put them on vision boards and take action… what I will stop is the sabotage, because there will always be pain on the other side of love, so I may as well love and live a great big spectacular life.
It’s taken me 37 years to let go of the belief that my friend’s death was my fault. If it wasn’t for my play, she wouldn’t have changed weekends and she’s still be here. It has taken just as long to accept that bad things are going to happen whether I’m living an average life or a spectacular one. I choose spectacular. It’s terrifying but I know it’s worth it.
So, are you ready to give up average and go for spectacular?
You got this!
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