An Invitation

Come along.

“Where are we going?” you say.

We’re going to where your demons live.

You know the place.

They live in the space that separates who you are from who you are supposed to be.

You had a hand in creating this space. It was a long time ago. You may not remember.

It is the space just outside your comfort zone.

You need to leave it. Your comfort zone, that is. It will be hard. I know. It is an island of calm. The sun is always shining. The grass is green. And, the birds are always chirping. It is orderly. It is peaceful. You clock in and you clock out. You go with the flow. You go through the motions. You are warm. Your belly is full. And, you are entertained. There’s no need to take any risks. So, you never do. You never skin a knee, get a cut or endure a scrape. It is a world without Band-Aids. It is a world of well-paved roads, guard-rails, and lane-departure warning systems.

It’s comfortable there. I know. But, it is a cul-de-sac. All you can do is ride in circles.

I want to get you to where you need to be.

“Where’s that?” you say.

I do not know. You were given that destination at birth. It came with your spark. You need to figure that out on your own. But, I do know that the only way to get there is by visiting your demons in the spaces outside your comfort zone.

“What should you expect?” you say.

It depends. That space can take many forms – a towering wall, a thorn-infested thicket, a no-man’s land populated with barbed wire and land-mines, an unending desert, a hurricane-riddled ocean, or an over-grown jungle. You may see it some other way. Regardless, it is where your demons perch, wait, and wonder “Is she going to challenge us?”

That is where we are going. We will go together. But, you will have to fight alone.

I know. It doesn’t seem fair. Here’s the thing.  You and I may have similar demons. We may even call them by the same names. But, our demons are unique to each of us. They are unique to our history. They are unique to our upbringing. They have been customized by  our circumstances, culture, context, and community. Your demons are your demons. My demons are my demons.

And, one more thing, they are mean.

They remember every pain, embarrassment, and humiliation you have suffered. They remember every insult, injury, and indignity you have incurred. Every abusive remark, every slight, and every name you were ever called, they remember it all. And, they will call you it all.

They know every flaw. They know every failure. And, they know every fall you have ever felt.

They know every gap in your armor. They know every weakness. And, for every one of your weaknesses, they have a weapon of mass humiliation.

They are tailored made to kick your ass.

And, the moment you step into their territory, they will drop from the trees, swirl around you, and begin their whispering. You will want to run back to your comfort zone. You will want to find another way. There is no other way. This is the only way.

It is going to hurt.

But, on the other side of this space is a life of agency and authenticity.

You get a glimpse of it each and every time you go toe-to-toe with them.

They know it. That is why they are so desperate.

And, each and every time you travel into their space you learn their moves and develop counter-measures. You begin to tame them. Control them. Muzzle them. You will never be rid of them. But, you will learn to quiet them. Calm them. Soothe them into silence. It is in this stillness that you will sense your destiny.

You learn how to do these things by doing these things. That is why I am inviting you to join me.

Are you ready?

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Shawn Humphrey, the Blue Collar Professor (www.shawnhumphrey.com)

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