The January of our big dream is a time of new experiences, new energy, and “first time” successes. We embrace the challenge with excitement and feel full of the exuberance of an expanding sense of self.
Just as the beautiful snow of that January becomes the February crap we now have to shovel, so does the fun of meeting new challenges give way to the frustrations of stressed resources, aches and pains, and few tangible results. The excitement of “I lost two pounds!” becomes the cry of, “I hate this scale!” We don’t feel any closer to the big dream, and at the same time feel the loss of the small dreams. There is a longing for the comforts that got us through the day. I miss pizza and complaining.
I don’t mean to pick on crows, but they are big and dark and fill our empty February fields with the same old cries of “it’s not working,” and “why do I have to,” and “but this is hard.” We all have our crows, and in the wind and snow the scarecrows seem small and insignificant. The old crows get loud and bold. The ground is frozen, and the rows are hard to hoe.
This is when we need some mules. Mules aren’t particularly graceful, or playful, or nice. They are loud, the stink, and they bite. But mules don’t give a damn about crows, or cold, or what anyone else thinks. They are stubborn and willful, bigger than a donkey and tougher than a horse. When you harness your big dream to a mule team, it might not be pretty, but you won’t quit on yourself.
One of the most reliable if least liked mules is an old guy named Structure. Structure demands that we ignore how we feel, and what our mind is telling us. Just follow the plan. Follow the plan relentlessly. Dare to be boring, predictable, tired, and sick of the same stuff over and over.
Anger can be a very motivating mule, and a powerful source of strength. Just make sure she is harnessed and pulling in the direction of your goal. Go ahead; keep running until you beat that pound off of your gut. See yourself stomping those cigarettes-they aren’t gonna win this time. Anger pulls best working alongside Determination, and don’t let that old dog Victim get her stirred up, or all hell can break loose.
My favorite mule is a clear image of myself as I accomplish the “big dream.” Watching myself compete and succeed in 3D Technicolor, Dolby enhanced sound and vibrant energy-that is a mule that pulls strong and true, a true mind-body beast of motivation and purpose.
And you may need to find some other mule to pull you through to your springtime of growth and change. Mules can be someone we love, someone we are honoring with our commitment. Mules can be financial, or sexual, or deeply connected to our values. You may have mules that I can’t use, or even imagine, but if they work for you without being destructive, hitch your plow and go.
We won’t need the mules nearly so much later on, but through the wintry slog of February a few good mules can keep us plowing the seeds of our victory garden. They may not be nice, or comfortable, or easy, but I have never met a “February” in the process of change that respected nice, comfortable, or easy.