The Heart of the Matter
October 24, 2016
We Are Never More Than a Minute Away from the Big Breakthrough

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I want to tell you a brief story about 60 seconds of my life, nine years ago, that felt like an eternity -- an experience that was so totally infused with meaning that I am still drinking from it's fountain almost a decade later. Here goes:

The night before Prem Rawat's 50th birthday party event at the San Diego Convention Center, to be attended by 3,500 people, I was asked to be the MC. My response to this unexpected invitation? A curious blend of fascination and fear. Fascination that Prem had the confidence in me to do the job. And fear of totally screwing up. But since I barely had any time to prepare, I couldn't afford to indulge in the part of me that was freaking out. So I went to the dress rehearsal, studied the announcements, made sure my fly wasn't open, and got ready for the evening gig.

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So there I am, backstage, waiting for my cue, when I am hit upside the head by the worst case of stage fright I imagine anyone, anywhere, anytime, has ever experienced. This, my friends, was well beyond anxiety or nervousness. STUCK. I was completely stuck. Frozen. Fried. Terrified. Totally in my head. I had never, in all my life, experienced such an all-encompassing sense of dread. I was the poster boy for UPTIGHT. Jonah in the belly of the whale. Mr. Weirdo. I was SO uptight, in fact, I soon found myself PRAYING for someone to call in a bomb scare or the building would catch on fire -- anything to GET ME OUT OF THERE!

Richie, the very laid back stage manager in charge of time and space, could see I was quietly freaking out, and so with just five minutes left before show time, he walked over to me and began giving me a shoulder massage -- a kind deed which only succeeded in MAKING THINGS WORSE, because now I knew, for sure, that my inner meltdown was so totally visible to the outside world that Richie, my handler, felt obliged to cool me out. Doo doo. I was in deep doo doo.

It was now only FIVE minutes before the program began and, though my body was sitting on a folding chair backstage, the rest of me was on Mars. No make that an ASTEROID -- a very small, rocky, cold asteroid orbiting absolutely nothing.

Now there were FOUR minutes to go. Now there were THREE. And there was absolutely no sign, anywhere, that my hyper state of out-of-control-self-consciousness was going to abate anytime soon. This was clearly going to be the end of me. In three minutes, everyone in the hall would know, for sure, that I was a complete idiot, a fraud and a buzzkill -- someone likely to become a future synonym for the phrase "consumed with terror" -- as in "Hey, don't pull a Ditkoff on me."

The clock was ticking. Now there was only ONE MINUTE left. One minute! And then... completely out of the blue... with no warning whatsoever, two things happened that I will never forget. Not in this lifetime. And not in the next. First, on the house PA system, I heard Daya singing my favorite song, Find the Miracle -- a song that always managed to bring me back to a place of complete ease. The second thing? Up from the depths of my being percolated the remembrance of something I heard Prem say many years ago -- something about the CHOICE we all have every single day of our lives.

"You can spend your entire life gritting your teeth and praying for it all to be over," he said... "or you can just say YES!"

Wow! Incredible! Amazing! I HAD A CHOICE! I could sit there in the wings, a complete and total mess -- or I... could... EMBRACE the moment and say YES to whatever was going to happen next. So simple! So, so, utterly simple. A choice! I had a choice!

That's precisely the moment I said YES. And that's precisely the moment when Richie stepped forward, leaned closer, put his hand on my shoulder, and said these words: "Three.. Two... One... Go!"

I stood. I took a breath. I boldly walked on stage. This wasn't the plank I was walking. This was my life! FREE! I WAS FREE! Completely free! Unshackled. Unhindered. And uncontainable! Nothing was holding me back. Nothing! Every ounce of who I was had become totally available to me. Everything! Whatever I needed in that timeless moment to play my part fully was fully present and accounted for. And the FEELING behind it all was pure JOY! The rest of my MC experience for the next two days was a total breeze...

Now I finally understand what the expression "the darkest hour is just before dawn" really means. Tell me, who of us doesn't battle with doubt, fear, and self-consciousness? Who doesn't want to run and hide when the going gets tough? Though it may not be how we want the world to see us, it comes with the territory of being human. Not just YOU. And not just ME. All of us! But more powerful than fear is REMEMBRANCE and the deep KNOWLEDGE that we have everything we need to play our part fully in any situation. We may not feel it all the time. We may not trust it. But it's there. It is. In the end, it all comes down to CHOICE. We can grit our teeth and pray it will all end. Or we can just say YES. What do you choose?

Words of Peace Global

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at October 24, 2016 12:48 PM


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Posted by: Michael Irwin [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 26, 2016 04:52 AM

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Welcome to Mitch Ditkoff's blog about what's really important in this life: Peace, gratitude, love, joy, clarity, and the effort required to wake up and smell the roses. Enjoy!

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