The Myth of Arrival

Oh how I would love to complete my work, just once in a while. To sign off on something that, by its nature, is never really finished—the website, the marketing materials, the company-wide project, the HR “manual,” the meeting about communication with your team, the implementation of new software… the list goes on and on. Indeed, most of the things we do aren’t things that get finished. Even when this article is written, the deadline for the next one will await me.

And yet, our culture perpetuates the myth of Arrival. Like if we really pulled it all together, we could be that polished, calm, energetic, accomplished individual that we see reflected in the stereotypes of our imagination.

Personally or professionally, this deception of arrival is insidious and dangerous. It lures us into believing that it’s possible to be complete, inside or out. That if we just worked a little longer, dug a little deeper, ate the right foods, or tried harder, somehow, we would cross a threshold into a land of competent and peaceful completion.

The truth is, our work happens in the midst of interruptions, stopping and starting, losing the thread, starting over, and beginning again. It’s often a process of feeling overwhelmed, getting your rhythm, then feeling overwhelmed again. This happens despite the best of intentions, it happens despite knowing better.

What I want to say is this: You are not alone. And if you are living from your true Wild nature, then life, at a minimum, is pretty unkempt most of the time, if not all out messy. We were never intended to sail through it all without a hitch. Life, especially Wild life, happens in the margins, around the edges, and smack in the middle of everything.

For me, the path that steers me away from the slippery slope of imagined arrival is always, in some form or another, self compassion and trust. Self compassion for the part of me that is so ready to find fault in my incompleteness. And trust, remembering that timing is everything. Recounting the myriad times when things worked out, because of–not in spite of—the weaving, spiraling journey I took to get here.

Whether the arrival myth has taken hold of you in a spiritual, psychological, or work situation, it is time to loosen your grip. Get done what you can authentically get done and celebrate that. Let the notion of ‘enough’ settle in you.

As the poet David Whyte says, “The cure for exhaustion is not rest, but whole-heartedness.”

You work hard, of that I am sure. What matters is showing up for it. Again and again. That is all and enough. Be at peace.

Chris Heeter