by Arjuna Ardagh: Sometimes something comes through you, rather like giving birth to a baby…
Once it is born and finds its own feet, you can look at it with detachment, and realize that it is not yours; it has a life of its own. It is like that with my new book now. It has my name on the cover — so there is always the temptation to take personal ownership. And then it also has a life of its own. Like an infant learning to walk and talk, it wanders off, and makes friendships with people I have never met and forges bonds of its own.
The book is about a cycle — the convergence of four different kinds of activity, and subjective experience, and brain functioning, which when they coexist give rise to the expression of Brilliance. If you would like to know more about the cycle, there is a short course (which is free) on the website radicalbrilliance.com. It will explain everything there.
One of the phases of the cycle has to do with the capacity to experience, and integrate, and learn from, feelings of regret, failure, and disappointment. We live in a culture of hustlers, each man and woman for themselves, it is the survival of the fittest. That was the pioneer spirit. The pressure to make it to succeed, to sell more books, and make more money, and fill more seats in seminars, is so pervasive that generally we see feelings of disappointment as an inconvenient distraction from the race to outstrip the competition.
I have discovered, now that my book is out and available on Amazon, that it does still require a certain kind of stewardship. When I was writing the book, I could stay under the radar, spending hours alone in my “playroom” being creative, and the only feelings of either elation or disappointment I had to deal with were finding the right words to form the right sentences, but now it is different. This is a more outward phase, and as soon as you return from the hermitage to the marketplace, you are inevitably going to have to deal with the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. You win a few, you lose a few. That is how it goes.
Learning how to deal with feelings of disappointment, which really means things not working out as you had planned them in your mind, is the key. Not so much the key to immediate and obvious success, but to staying in a flow of connection, and integrity, and fulfillment.
Every time one of my carefully concocted plans goes in a different direction than I had expected, I have discovered that to embrace disappointment is like a medicine. To drink deep of it, to relish its taste, is to discover that it is in these moments when things do not seem to be working out “well” (in other words… according to your plan) that you have the most chance of letting go. In disappointment, you can relax your grip, and open again to an intelligence, broader and more benevolent than the limitations of your own mind.
If you also are someone who wants to make a difference to the world, if you want to do something with your life that makes a real contribution to other people, that allows you to feel deeply good about yourself, you will probably have to take a few risks and lay things on the line. You will have sometimes experiences of elation and joy (your little winning streak) and you will sometimes have feelings of disappointment.
Strange thing. I have learned over time to take those moments of elation with a little caution and detachment. But when the gift of disappointment comes, I have also learned to drink it deep, and to know that on the other side of disappointment — when it is not resisted — is always a benevolence beyond your dreams.