Gentle Goals & Soft Manifestations (Or How I Stopped Obsessing Over Books)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

There once was a girl who wanted to read all the books in the world. She believed sincerely that she could chew her way through book after book, never re-reading and never looking back. She would read the good with the bad, the classics with the post-modern, and eventually conquer all the material there was out there.

That girl grew up a little bit, started writing her own work in the same proportion as she was reading. Created many good stories, learned a great deal of lessons about writing and publishing and how expansive the world of literature is. But she still held on to the idea that she could finish every book in the world someday. Someday.

And then the fated day came when that little girl became a teenager and felt like the entire world was too overwhelming. Including the world of books. She threw her head down on her desk, long hair flowing, and felt her illusions unraveling - there was simply too much to get through! Oh, the crushing defeat...

Ok, so perhaps my childhood fantasy went on a little too long. But, at one point in my life, I sincerely believed I could conquer all the written material in the world. I realize that's impossible now. And this hyperbolic personal example serves to illustrate my greater point: expansive expectations are the stuff of fantasies. They are bound to disappoint.

Gentle goals and soft manifestations, however, make magic happen.

First, some definitions:

Gentle goals are those that shoot for the stars, but are connected to your core beliefs and rooted in practicality. They are designed not to overwhelm because even if you stray from them, there is always a safety net of forgiveness waiting to catch you.

Soft manifestations accompany these gentle goals - they are the stuff that affirmations are made of, they are the positive thoughts and energy that contributes and collects when you meditate, and when you build them up they become a mighty transformative force.

That's the view from the outside in; now let's look at how it would work in real life. One of my gentle goals is to live my life like it's a giant experiment. It's a broad-based idea with an identity - I can plan for it as specifically or as generally as I'd like. And, best of all, there's no way to fail at it. If making hot chocolate from scratch is experimental enough for me, then I can do that. I don't have to go bungee jumping or see the President to live life as an experiment; instead, I take away the real kernel of importance in that goal, which is to keep trying new things and feeling the spice of life. Forgiving when I need and daring when I want, this goal is a healthy alternative to a New Year's resolution that has the all-or-nothing principle sticker attached to it.

As for manifestations, I take these quite seriously. What good is a goal without the energy and thoughts that make it happen? If I took on the same goal as above, for example, and didn't actually believe that what I was doing was "worth it," then there would be no resolve to try anything or to try again when it went on a different course. Soft manifestations, even if they are small, are powerful. Think, believe, and manifest your desires and they will come true - even if they aren't exactly in the form that you expected.

The little girl that wanted to read all the books in the world is still there underneath it all, driving my media hog self towards all forms of blogs, books, and podcasts to absorb. She's just a little more soft in going about the task of conquering the media world.