Many years ago, in my twenties (although I don't remember the exact circumstances), I remember being deeply chagrined by some humbling event or another that had occurred. It was one of those times when I was sure of myself -- cocky, even -- and when all was said and done, I had grossly overestimated my capabilities. In hindsight and with all things considered, it wasn't a world-ending kind of event, but still, I was humiliated enough that I talked to my father about it.
"Ah," he said, with a knowing smile. "You got a Spirit Tap."
A Spirit Tap, according to my father, happens when God smacks you upside the head -- a cosmic reminder that you've drifted off-course in your life, not following the path you were meant to follow. Like a real-life swat to the back of the head, you often never see it coming (though you probably should), and while not fatal, it stings a bit -- but you can easily recover from it, once you know and understand the reason you got it.
Yesterday afternoon, I received a Spirit Tap. Nothing too devastating, but a setback to one of my Future Big Plans, so admittedly one of the more significant career disappointments I've had since leaving the practice of law. The thing is, while it stung, deep down, I also knew it was inevitable -- the signs were all there -- so while I was somewhat deflated, I couldn't really be angry or even too terribly sad. And when I called my friend Brené to talk later, she confirmed my thoughts.
"You know, Karen, it sounds like this is a great opportunity to reevaluate what's important to you," she said. "You know when you're following your bliss. You also know when you're compromising or doing things because 'people say you should,' instead of doing what you know you're meant to do. This has given you an opportunity to take a look and make sure you're following your path."
And then she made me promise to go out and purchase The Alchemist and read it immediately. So last night I picked up a copy at our local bookstore, and I'm reading it now.
The upshot? As I've gotten older, I've learned that my instincts are rarely ever wrong when it comes to making major decisions for myself -- and when I choose to ignore the signals, the signs which tell me what path I should follow, I am invariably disappointed.
(In other news, I've got some exciting stuff to tell you about my book tomorrow. Stay tuned.)
Image: Photographed with a Nikon D300, a 60mm micro lens and a serious case of the heebie-jeebies.