Expectation Hangover

Machu Picchu

“Is this it?” my father said.

My heart sank.  I’m at Machu Picchu. This is the moment I have been waiting for, one of the places on my bucket list.

My father’s words ringing in my ears, I wanted to quickly distance myself from his energy, and immediately get out my phone to start taking pictures.

To take THE picture.

You know the one.  It’s so many people’s profile picture.  Standing at the peak of Machu Picchu with the ruins behind; a symbol of achievement.

I’m here!
I made it!

The sun was blazing down hot, and I was feeling it.  When the first pictures were taken, the light was all off.  I was in shadow.  This isn’t what I wanted to portray. Thankfully, my aunt was there to save the day , and had a brilliant idea.

Face the ruins and look at the camera.

This way, the light hit my face AND you could see the expanse of Machu Picchu.  Soon, my parents were doing the same shot and the moment was captured.

I had THE picture.

But, where was the feeling?

I had expected to have this out of body experience, the clouds to part, and wisdom to reign down on me from the heavens.  Wasn’t this the place of enlightenment?  The site of ancient wisdom?

It was high season at the ancient site and it felt like the whole world had decided to enter the stony walls, walking in single files behind a never-ending amount of tour guides, their flags raised and voices ringing out.  I had to really get close to our tour guide to hear all the richness of the history.

As we walked through, the sun continued to beat down, and I was chugging an electrolyte packet to alleviate the effects.  It was gorgeous and the view was amazing, but it was feeling more like something else…

A tourist attraction.

Our guide had given us the option to stay behind and have some personal time amongst the ruins, but I was feeling the hot sun, and knew I needed to get some food, get out of the sun, and wasn’t too thrilled with the idea of taking the bus back by myself and finding my way back to the hotel alone.

As we exited the site, we walked through a stone doorway, and I felt a panic and sadness arise, and a voice asking,

Did I learn what I needed to?
Did I receive what I needed?

Then, I walked through the arch and said goodbye to one of the most famous destination sites in the world.  I did’t want to leave. I left wondering if I would ever return.

I left managing something that had been building in me since the trip was planned a year and a half ago…

Expectation.

 

Where have you formed the Perfect Picture in your Creativity?

Where have you entered a situation, already deciding it would LOOK a certain way?

This is the PERFECT job
This show will solve all my problems
This book will launch me to success
This gallery will make me famous
My audience tonight will all stand and go raving mad!

We can so easily attach an outcome to our plans, and decide is HAS to be; that what we have formed in our mind as a projection will be truth.

And in this expectation, we believe in permanence.
We believe things are unchanging.

And when it doesn’t look exactly as we planned, we feel a loss.  We feel sadness, and we feel dis-empowered.

How can we create from here?

Creativity by its very nature is an open space.  It’s one of possibility, not fixed.  So let me offer a different tool, instead of expectation, so you are not feeling the “hangover” of disappointment that leads to procrastination and burnout.  Imagine instead using,

Intention.

Intention is based in your needs, and isn’t about the outcome, but your energy in the moment.  It’s about the step by step, daily commitment to your Creative Vision.  Intention is based in what is feeding you moving forward, as opposed to bringing you to a stopping point.

Intention will bring you to growth, which is what we are all doing.  Every day, with every moment, we have the opportunity to learn, to try again, and to expand not only in our own Creative abilities, but in our audience, reaching more with our gifts and talents.

That sounds far more sustainable than believing it HAS to be a certain way.

 

On the last day of the trip, our guide made an offer to do a short walking tour of Cusco City.  I was already enamored with the European influence, and was hungry for more history.  I was loving my time in Peru, and wanted to learn more.

We walked around, and I was in awe of the Incan walls, perfectly formed and interlocking like puzzle pieces. There was no mortar used, and despite catastrophic earthquakes, and much of the city destroyed through the Spanish invasion, what still remained was the foundation…those Incan walls built back in the 15th century. The Incans possessed a quality that has not been duplicated by building engineers since,

Patience.

We walked into the Plaza De Armas and Cusco Cathedral loomed skyward.  I entered, and was instructed to walk to the sides as a service was going on.

And then it hit me.

That feeling.  A powerful energy, and I began to weep, gazing at the high domes.

As the tears fell on my shirt, I walked to the front of the sanctuary, and knelt in a pew.  The parishioners were singing behind me and their devotion was coursing through my blood, and as I bowed my head to my hands, all I said was,

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

This was what I had expected to experience at Machu Picchu.  This moment of emotion, and a powerful experience.  It was unexplainable in the present moment, but I was allowing it, so grateful for it’s arrival.

My INTENTION had been to be open to what Peru could teach me.

And in a cathedral that we were never supposed to be in, in a place I had no idea I was going to visit…it came.

It wasn’t the picture I had in my mind, but the result was exactly what I had asked for.

Cusco Cathedral brought me back to a sense of home.  It resonated with my European upbringing, and visiting countless cathedrals in my youth. It resonated with my personal devotion to my own Zen practice, it satisfied my need for growth and learning about new cultures, and as I gazed at my parents and aunt who were on this trip with me, it brought me back to the incredible gift of family and connection.

And as far as my Creativity?  It’s here in every word to you.  I walked out of the cathedral and knew I would write about it.  In fact, I had absolute clarity about the whole trip and what I would create FROM it.

In Machu Picchu, I faced the ruins and faced my own expectations.  And the catalyst was Cusco Cathedral.  I actually got exactly what I needed.

Are you open to seeing this for yourself?

 

So come back to your Vision, and see what you’re holding onto so tightly.  Come back to your intention, and do your tasks from there.   Allow the intention to drive your actions, not a fixed picture.

You may find yourself on your knees, experiencing exactly what you have always desired, and doing so from a place where you are motivated and engaged; a place where you are connecting to your Dreams and your Audience.

A place where you are receiving what you need.

Cusco Cathedral

Maximum Creativity

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My lungs feel as though they have shrunk and even taking a few steps is leaving me light-headed.

My inner dancer is screaming,  “I thought I was in great shape!”

Oh wait….I’m in the Andes Mountains.
I’m at 14,000 feet elevation.

That may have something to do with these New York City lungs so accustomed to sea level.

I’ve never been here before. This is a whole new experience.

 

Where have you found yourself in a new situation feeling exhausted and breathless?

Maybe:
* A new class where you are overwhelmed with information
* A new project that will highlight your work on a larger scale
* A new environment or studio
* Standing in front of a full audience with a dry mouth and knees shaking

How did this affect your Creativity and the QUALITY of your work?
How did it affect your overall PERFORMANCE and your ability to commit and complete your project?

So many times we find ourselves out of breath and dizzy as we up-level in our Creativity. We desperately want to claim the Spotlight and be seen, but those lights can be so blinding.

Thankfully, there is a way to dim them and still achieve our Dreams.

And it came to be while I was breathless, birding in the Abra Malaga Pass in Peru.

 

Last week I was in the majesty of the Andes Mountains, staring at vast landscapes, in awe of the expansive power, and raising my binoculars to view 181 different species of colorful South American birds. The temperatures were in the low 30’s and I had five layers on top, and three on my legs. I resembled the stay-puff marshmallow man a little, but I was warm.

And I was breathless.

We were birding along the Abra Malaga Pass and had stopped at a Highlander’s house to see birds and also to have a quick tea break.

The landowner, Maxima, came out with her grandson, in traditional Peruvian dress…literally.

And sandals.

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Did I mention I was in five layers?
And breathless?

Maxima brought us warmed potatoes, fresh from her farm, and her three dogs trotted around us, tails wagging. She spoke happily to our local guide, Lucrecia, in Quechua.

Our group stared, jaws open at Maxima’s open toes and bare legs, as we held our piping Coca tea and warm potatoes.

How was she not freezing??

After our snack, we ascended her property to view hummingbirds and endemic species. The mountainside rose at a sharp angle and we slowly made our way up, huffing along the way, towards a patch of trees.

My father was alongside me and said,
“Make sure you are taking deep breaths at this altitude.  We are adjusting and want to fill our lungs with as much air as possible.”

I realized in that moment that I had been breathing shallowly, and immediately placed my awareness further down, opening my belly and slowing my breathing.  I felt immediate relief.

“Maxima has spent her whole life here, so she has more red blood cells.  That is what allows her to breathe with ease.”

OF COURSE.

My upbringing was much closer to sea level, and my home is directly on the water.

But here is where the human body is incredible…..we can adjust. I may have begun the week feeling the altitude, but it didn’t last, and every breath I took in deeply was changing my body chemistry.

I looked at my many layers, and started to ask the questions,

How much are we protecting ourselves?
Do we really know what we are capable of?

The Highlanders of Peru are a sturdy and strong people.  I looked at Maxima and saw my limiting beliefs around cold temperatures being blown out of the water.  She didn’t have frostbite, because her body had adjusted to her environment. It had created more red blood cells.

And her name?  Well…..she was living up to it.  Tending to her family, farm, her chickens, and her pigs.  She was at her full potential, in tune with her environment.

Maxima.

 

So, how do we deal with ELEVATION in our Creative Life?

First, we breathe.  But, we breathe deeply.  Take the moment to come back into your body and give it the oxygen it needs.  Stress breeds on tension, and is destroyed by the simple act of coming back to your breath, and dropping out of your whirling mind.

Secondly, we adjust.  A new experience can be so exciting.  It can also be a shock to the body, and leave us breathless.  So, allow the time, and also recognize that your body will adjust with repetition.  Your Creativity will adjust with repetition, and your glorious gifts will find their audience with repetition. When you feel stuck, it’s temporary.

We have to put ourselves in the NEW environment to grow.  This is where our “red blood cells” form….at the higher levels.  This is how we climb.

Your work wasn’t meant to stay at sea level, and we are far more capable and stronger than we ever imagined.

Wouldn’t you like to know what your Maximum is?

So, take a hike with me, breathe deep, and raise your binoculars to the sky.

The change is already occurring.