[Back to the archive today, one of my most oft-read pieces, from May 26, 2015. A year later it became one of the “bonus tracks” as I expanded Refuse to be Afraid.]
All you need to know is it’s up to you. Whatever “it” is, you can and must take care of it.
That realization can and will fill you with fear. That realization can and will — if you let it — fill you with the greatest sense of power and peace.
No longer is it out of your control. No longer is it dependent on someone “out there” who may or may not ever notice or care.
No — that is to say, yes — you have the reins of your life. You decide what happens next.
“If it’s going to be, it’s up to me.” It really is that simple.
It’s not easy. If anyone tells you “easy,” they’re lying to you or perhaps even to themselves.
But simple? Yes, it’s really simple: You can be the change you want in the world.
In simple fact, if you are not that change, it won’t happen. Not, at least, in your world.
That boss? That spouse? That senator? That president? They can’t affect your world. They don’t have the power. They can’t get inside you and tinker with you — your soul, your attitude, your thoughts, your feelings. Only you can get that close. Only you can tinker with what’s in there.
Yes, you can let them in. But the change — if you care to change — is up to you.
And if you’re right — if they want you to change in a way you know isn’t right — well, then, hold on. Don’t let someone else take the power from you.
Oh, no doubt, someone with “power” can affect the external trappings of your life. They can confine you, adjust your wages, withdraw your job, beat you, steal from you, and cause you discomfort and pain — physical, mental or spiritual. Yes, they can even kill you.
But they can’t touch you unless and until you let them.
By “you” I mean that special sentience — that unique essence of who you are — what makes you you.
It belongs to you. You were born with it, and it will stay with you until the mortal vessel you occupy and operate runs out of power.
You can never again control what happened before. That happened. It’s over. But you can always control how you react to it, now, this moment.
Your reactions — your proactions — are in your hands. Your hands — those powerful tools that can pick up a tool and do your bidding. Those mighty tools that can reach out and build or close in a fist — that can nourish or strangle — that can grow a garden or drive a car or tear down a wall or take a life.
Your hands — your mind — your soul can be instruments of life or death. Choose wisely. Find wisdom. Seek truth. Ignore lies — no, wait: Correct lies.
You are not the only one who wants to know the truth. You are not the only one who wants to be the change. Help others understand.
But know this: Each of us has the power to change only one life — the one under the control of the person you call I. me. myself. You do not have the power to change or control your neighbor, your mate, your parent, your child, or that stranger.
You do have the power to persuade — or to force your will on others. In the first instance you can gain a soulmate, an ally, a companion, a fellow. In the second you gain nothing but solitude and hatred and bitterness and resentment.
You cannot take their freedom, no matter how high and thick you build the walls of their cage. Neither can others take your freedom, no matter how high and thick they build the walls of your cage. It’s all up to you.
You have the power, you have the controls, you have the reins of your life — but only your life.
The extent to which you lead others is completely dependent on those others. The extent to which others lead you is completely dependent on you.
Decide this moment to take the reins of your life. They’ve been in your hands all along anyway. They’ve taken you to this place, good or bad or indifferent, where you are at this moment.
Where do you want to go next?
It’s entirely — entirely — up to you.