“I can’t take it anymore,” says your egocentric mind. “I’ve just had it. That’s right, HAD IT!…
….When will we do what we really want? Huh? How much longer until you find someone to love us? Until you make the big bucks? Until you prove to everyone you are something great?
And, I mean, come onnnn, ain’t we due for a vacation or something? I’ve about lost it lately!,” it proceeds, while your boss is reaching over to hand you more to-do’s on the piles already swimming in red ink filled with edits and corrections like some red ink squid got a hold of the damn documents. (If there even is such a thing as a red ink squid?).
“I know, I know. I can completely empathize with you, dear mind, but what are we gonna do? Just leave this joint? Like puff the magic dragon!…
I don’t know…this could be risky, and heck, they love us here! We are celebrated. We’ll be fiiiiiine. You’ll see,” your heart replies.
You excuse yourself from your desk to shake off this agonizing and incessant chatter. The bathroom. Yes! I think I’ll go to the bathroom. And relax a bit.
Mind: “Let’s flee! Look! There are the stairs…an easy escape!”
Heart: “No, no, no, we are just tinkling not tramping on outta here!”
“Breathe my dearest, I am here, be patient, be still, believe. I love you.”
Who the hell was that?!
In Plato’s Phaedrus there is a beautiful allegory of a charioteer and two horses. The two horses personifying conflicting thoughts, let’s call them Horse A and Horse B for simplicity, A being your mind, B your heart.
And the charioteer, that’s that third voice. Your moral compass, your guidance, your soul, the hidden treasure within you, God, the Universe, Love, Light, whatever divinity calls to you.
It’s steering your horses.
But sometimes, it sure can feel like your horses are steering YOU, right?
Come on. Don’t act like you’ve never stepped into a bathroom to collect yourself because you felt like you’d either:
(a) breakdown crying in a public place (which I’ve lost track of at this point, the LIRR is by far the most dramatic of them all)(b) flip a flipping bird at someone! (Or maybe throw a spanakopita out the window while driving and hit the asshole next to you because he was, well, being an asshole. Real story, but I’ll save this one for another time he he he)
It is our charioteer’s responsibility then to discern the best directions to pursue and then train our horses to follow suit, cooperating with one another rather than butting heads with one another.
But at times what is going on inside you is masked by an exterior facade that says, “everything is okay.” When sadly, everything is totally not okay and your horses want to move in different directions. (Either you grow Gumby arms to deal with this or you learn how to rein in on your horses. And if you can do the former, please share your tips on how you got there 😉 )
I must admit; I haven’t been okay.
Horse A (my mind) would rather quit my job, move to Greece, and work the “Kantina” on my village’s beach as the frappé and freddo cappuccino girl, serve the freshly caught fish to the old folks that Pappou Kostas just reeled in from his little dingy, and lather myself up with the Carroten tanning elixir of the gods, as I bask in the sun like Aphrodite waiting for my love affair with Ares.
But I’d get sick of this real fast. Yes, even that luscious beach. Trust me.
It’s a tiny village, and it’s not always like the Greece you might be imagining from Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.
There are goats, which really means there are cruel watchdogs nearby you have to dodge, old people who force lamb down your throat, and a gym that never was and never will be existent. I don’t even think these people know what a gym is! The gossip is off the hook crazy. And Pappou Kosta’s son who has been trying to get in your pants is your freaking cousin. Ew. Incest! And yet he doesn’t “see it that way”…
Sorry Horse A, I need a little fast-paced NYC running through my veins, a yoga studio I can can sweat my tush off in, a man that’s not my blood, and a sprinkle of dreams that can actually happen where people have wee-fee as they pronounce in Greeklish (aka wifi) that WORKS 24-7!
Horse B (my heart) would be too guilty to go through with this adventurous escapade. People would kill to work at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. I mean I’ve got the keys to the castle after all. As an artist and an art historian, I can say I work at the greatest museum in the world, surrounded by sphinxes, Corinthian columns, Monets, and Picassos.
But my verve would be sucked out of me if I stayed here for 10+ years–the average lifespan of a Met employee. Holy f*cking shit that’s a long time! I’d die a million slow deaths doing anything for that long. And seriously, I’d be doing the same thing for that long. You move an inch every 5 years or so.
Sorry Horse B, but this ain’t happening either.
The charioteer. Thank God for the charioteer (my soul). It’s keeping me level.
Who says we have to do this OR do that? Why not this AND that?
My charioteer has figured this out. I can enjoy my Ares love affairs while in a polka-dot bikini on the Mediterranean coast AND my New Yawk drive to achieve, believe and receive!
Neither of my irrational decisions will lead me to my end goal. My job is but a means, my vacations but a pause. My charioteer is the legacy and I’m in this for the long haul.
As Tim Ferriss said, “Things in excess become their opposite.”
Too much of what you want becomes what you don’t want. Creating an excess of idle time is poisonous, and working hours upon hours for 10+ years is equally poisonous.
The goal: create positive use of free time for yourself. That’s where your charioteer comes in.
Your charioteer is guiding you, orienting your horses to travel in the most suitable direction to set you up for greatness.
And your horses can change on a daily basis. It might not always be heart vs. mind. It could be fate vs. free will. Yes or no. Physical vs. emotional. Take a risk, play it safe.
We gallop through our lives sometimes like circus performers trying to steady our chariot.
The question everyday then is which horse is which and how can I balance them?
I’ve learned that there are things out of my control, but other things that fall under my jurisdiction. I decide with whom I interact with, how I want to spend my time, where I want to go. I choose what I eat, drink, read, do. I pick the words that I speak and the tone of voice I speak from.
And most of all, I get to choose how my horses affect me, standing firmly on my chariot, knowing that I hold the reins, and finding an internal balance that keeps me moving in a positive direction despite the obstacles and bumps in the road that I may encounter along my journey.
Look at what you’re currently doing and ask yourself:
“What would happen if I listened to one horse over the other? Would that really give me what I want?
What truly is my desired outcome that makes all my efforts worthwhile?”
What excites me?
I’m opting for this AND that!
What about you?
Ready to grab your reins?
With steadiness and stability,