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Amazing Possibilities!

  • Writer's pictureMatthew Kelly

Life Not Going as Planned? That’s Good News!



Do you ever get the feeling that something is missing or the the sense that there must be more to life or the feeling that you have more to offer? If you do, that's a beautiful thing. Sometimes when we have these feelings we think, well, there's something wrong with me. I feel like something's missing, so there must be something wrong with me. Or, um, I feel like there must be more to life so I'm, I'm not living my life properly or I feel like I have so much more to offer, so I must have gone wrong somewhere. Um, but that's not true. When, when you have these feelings, it's a really, really good sign. It is, it is not the human being malfunctioning.


And, and, and sometimes we make that mistake. We think, oh, there must be something wrong with me. I must be malfunctioning. I have to fix that. I have to fix myself cuz I am broken. And that's not true. You're not malfunctioning. Something is very, very, very right. When you have that sense that something is missing or there must be more to life or the sense that you, you have more to offer. These are great signs and there's they're signs that we need to learn to listen to because they're, they're a lot more than feelings. Are they feelings? Yes, they're absolutely feelings, but they're also, they're sacred truths. They're sacred truths that are emerging from deep within you that, that deserve to be listened to, that deserve to be to be followed because they're your soul summoning you to a bigger, better, more beautiful life. And when we ignore them, we ignore ourselves. When we ignore them, we betray ourselves. And that's a really, really dangerous thing. Are they feelings? Yes. Are they more than feelings? Absolutely. But what do we know about feelings? You're not your feelings. You are not your feelings. And so we shouldn't judge ourselves by what we feel. So what is the point of feelings? What is the purpose of feelings? Feelings are messengers. They come into your life. They come into my life to deliver a message.


It's when we ignore the message that we get into trouble. It's when we ignore the message that our liars begin to veer off course. So if you have the sense that something is missing or if you have the sense there must be more to life, or if you have the sense that you have more to offer, that's not the sign that something is wrong. That's a sign that something is very, very right. Listen to what is going on within you. And that is the first step to reclaiming whatever it is we need to reclaim. And we all need to reclaim different parts of our lives, different parts of ourselves. We all need to, to mourn parts of ourselves that have been lost or parts of our lives that we cannot go back to and cannot be reclaimed. But the first step is listening to those sacred truths that are emerging from within us and following wherever they lead us.


When you have the feeling that you know something is missing or there must be more to life or you have more to offer. And I hear that more and more for 20 years I've been hearing people say, oh, I feel like something's missing. Or, um, I feel like there must be more to life. But these feelings seem to have evolved into this new expression, which is, I feel like I have more to offer. If you have those feelings, there's probably one of two things going on. The first thing is, yeah, something has been lost and and you need to reclaim it. Um, but the second is that those feelings, those sacred truths are inviting you to a new place, are inviting you to a new adventure, to experience new things or, or new parts of yourself, to expand yourself in your life in order to learn to listen to those feelings, in order to learn to listen to those sacred truths as they emerge in our lives.


Sometimes it's healthy to have a look at other people's lives. And one of the most powerful ways to do that in the history of the world has been stories. Stories change the world. Stories determine history. Why? Because we become the stories we listen to, we become the stories we listen to. It's not just entertainment. We become the stories we listen to. If you want to, uh, start a war, tell a story. If you want to end a war, tell a story. If you want to cause people to fall in love, tell a story. You wanna cause people to fall outta love. Tell a different type of story. If you want to inspire people, tell a story. If you want to discourage people, tell a story. Story is so powerful in our lives. We experienced stories in, in many, many different ways. So almost 23 years ago now, since I wrote the Rhythm of Life, and I wanna share with you a story from the rhythm of life.


Once upon a time, uh, there was an investment banker. He was living in New York City, was phenomenally successful, made tons of money, but he had a very busy, noisy, stressful life. So once a year he used to take vacation. He used to go down to a small coastal village in Mexico to rest, to relax, allow himself to be rejuvenated. One day the banker was standing on the dock, looking out to sea was around the middle of the day and he, he saw a small fishing boat coming into dark. Thought that was a little strange cuz uh, most of the fishermen, they used to stay out late into the afternoon and catch as many fish as they could and then come back late in the afternoon and clean the fish and prepare the fish for market. So the investment banker walked over to where the fishing boat was about to dock. And he, he looked into the boat. He noticed there was just one fisherman and a whole bunch of large yellowfin tuna fish. He congratulated the fishermen on his catch. And uh, he said to the Fishman, how long did it take you to catch those fish? Fishman smiled. He said, well, not very long. The Americans said, well, is there something wrong with your boat?


Fishman smiled again. He said, nothing wrong with the boat. Had the boat, 13 years, never had a problem with the boat. The Americans said, well, why don't you stay out there longer and, and catch more fish? Fisherman's smart again. He said, well, you know, I have plenty for my family's needs. Some of them we can eat, some of them we can sell, and others we can trade to get other things that we need. The Americans said to the fisherman, but it's not even lunchtime. What do you do with the rest of your time? The fisherman's smile. He said, well, I like to sleep late in the morning. And then I fish a little, mostly just for the pleasure of fishing. In the afternoons, I like to take siesta with my wife. And in the evenings I have dinner with my family. And then when my children are sleeping, I stroll into the village where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, the American Smart. He said, I am a Harvard mba and I can help you. Fisherman was little skeptical, but he was a polite man. So he humored the American. He said, how is it that you can help me?


American said, you should fish a little bit longer each day you'll catch more fish, you'll make more money, and you can buy a bigger boat. With the bigger boat you'll catch even more fish. You'll make even more money. And then you can buy another boat. Fisherman said, but I can't fish with two boats. The American said, you can hire another man from the village and he can fish with the second boat, with the two big boats, you'll catch even more fish, you'll make even more money. Fishman said, but what then American said, before you know it, you'll have a whole fleet of boats. Every man 50 miles around looking for work will come to you and fish with your boats. Fishermen said, but what then American said, we're just getting started. Then you can, you can cut out the middle man. You can sell your fish directly to the cannery in Mexico City, and you can start to make some real money. But what then the fishermen said, Americans said, after a while, you can leave this small coastal village. You can leave this small coastal village. You can move to Mexico City. You can build your own cannery, make even more money, begin to ship your fish all down into Asia.


But what then fisherman said, American's smile. His eyes lit up like a Christmas tree. He said, when the time is perfectly right, you can move to New York City. You can live in the epicenter of the business world. You can list your company on the stock exchange. Take your company public, offer an I P O, you'll make millions and millions and millions of dollars. The fisherman said, millions Americans said more money than you ever dreamt you could have earned in a hundred lifetimes. The fisherman thought for a moment, and then he said to the American, but what? Then the American was stumped. He didn't know what to say. He, he had reached the climax of his plan, but then a light bulb went off in his head and he, he said to the fisherman, he said, well, then you could move


To a small coastal fishing village. You could sleep late. You could fish just for the pleasure of fishing in the afternoons. You could take siesta with your wife in the evenings. You could have dinner with your family, and then you could stroll into the village, sip wine and play guitar with your amigos. When we hear the story of the fishermen, it stirs something within us. It stirs something within us. What is it that it stirs within us? It stirs the sense that maybe there is a different way to live. Maybe there is more to life. Maybe there is something missing in our lives. Most of all, it, it stirs a yearning within us for a simpler life, for a life with, with more clarity, with more focus, with more purpose. It stirs within us the wisdom that, that maybe just maybe less is more. Sometimes when I speak to live audiences, I'll ask everyone in the audience, you know, who would like to have the life of the fishermen hands shoot up everywhere.


Almost everyone wants the life of the fishermen. But it's a story, you know, and it's, it's idealized. And there are a lot of things that are left out of the story. The reality is most of us don't want the life of the fishermen. Why? Well, the fisherman has no education beyond the age of about 10. His children have no education beyond the age of about 10. You know, the, the nearest doctor to the small coastal village about 50 miles away. Uh, Fishman's never been to a dentist. You know, they have no consumer products. They have no electricity, they have no running water. They have no cell phones or any of those pipes of modern conveniences that we love. He doesn't have a car. There are thousand things that the fishermen doesn't have, many of which you and I are not willing to give up. And there's nothing wrong with that. So why, when we hear the story of the fishermen, do we yearn for, for his life? Why? When I ask people, do you want the life of the fishermen? Do hands shoot up everywhere?


Do we want the life of the fisherman? No, we really don't. Because the truth is, many of us, many, many, many of us, if we really wanted the life of the fisherman, we could have the life of the fisherman. So what is it that we want? We want something between the life we have today and the life of the fishermen. We want something between the life we have today and the life of the fishermen. How far between? Well, it's different for every person. It's different for every person, and it's different sometimes for the same person at different times in our lives because life is full of different seasons and different reasons. So what is it that the, the Fishman story stirs within us?


What it really stirs within us is dissatisfaction. And dissatisfaction is a beautiful thing. Again, when we are dissatisfied, we think, oh, there's something wrong. There must be something wrong with me. There must be something wrong with my life. What, what's wrong? I'm, I'm dissatisfied. No, that's a mistake. Again, dissatisfaction is not a human malfunction. It's a, it's a sign that your whole being is working perfectly and dissatisfaction is speaking to you. And the most important thing when we experience that dissatisfaction is to listen to the dissatisfaction. Not obsess about it, not ruminate endlessly, but to check in with our dissatisfaction every now and then is a really good thing. It's a, it's a really healthy thing for us to do because your dissatisfaction will always lead you to a better life and a better you. If we listen to it. We really listen to our dissatisfaction.


If we examine our dissatisfaction, it will lead us to a better life and a better you. One of the greatest examples of this in history is the story of Francis Assisi. Here is a young man who had everything, you know, had everything came from a wealthy family, was incredibly popular amongst his peer groups and from a worldly point of view, the whole world was at his feet. He had everything. His future was bright. He could have done whatever he wanted to do, but at a young age, which is rare, he got in touch with this dissatisfaction. He got in touch with all of the things we've been talking about. The idea that, hmm, something seems to be missing. There must be more to life. I feel like I have more to offer. Francis experienced this profound dissatisfaction with life. He got in touch with that profound dissatisfaction, and it led him on one of the greatest adventures any human being has ever experienced.


It also led him to one of the most profound relationships with God that any human being has ever experienced. Hundreds of years after the death of Francis, people travel to Assisi every year just to be where he was. People read books about him, people study the things he wrote, the things he said. And of course, people dedicate their whole lives to the Franciscan way of life. Who loves Francis Assisi, I think is a fascinating question. Only Catholics, no only Christians, no men and women of all faiths, men and women of no faith have a great attraction to Francis. What is it about Francis that has captured the imagination of men and women from all backgrounds for hundreds and hundreds of years?


There are many things, but I believe that one of the things is that his story resonates very deeply with us because we all experience the profound dissatisfaction that he had the courage to listen to and the boldness to respond to and to follow wherever it led him. And so whatever the nature of the dissatisfaction you are experiencing at this time in your life, I want to encourage you to not see that dissatisfaction as something that is wrong. Not see that dissatisfaction as something that needs to be fixed or as a malfunction of you as a person or your life. But to see that dissatisfaction as a real gift, to see that dissatisfaction as a way that God is speaking directly into your life, a way that God is speaking directly to you, because that is the role that dissatisfaction plays in our lives and in our journey.


Matthew Kelly


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