“We have so many allies in this world, including just the color blue in the sky.”
– David Whyte
When Aloneness Sucks
There are moments when you’re going after a wild idea when it feels as if you are slogging it alone.
After all, most of the time, when we’re gripped by the energy – the daimon, as the ancient Greeks would say – of an idea, we’re there in a dance with the idea and ourselves.
The rest of the world often looks upon us with disinterest, sometimes benign and sometimes destructive. Part of going after what we dream of is getting comfortable with the discomfort of that aloneness.
But sometimes, we just need to find allies. It is tough, often exhausting work to go after ideas that don’t already exist, nicely packaged. We can get disheartened, tired, and feel far too small to dream so big – even if the size of our dream isn’t that enormous to begin with.
In those moments, we need allies who can understand the pull of what we’re going after, even if they don’t get exactly what it is or why we need to go after it. We need a tribe, sometimes, who can assure us that it’s okay to dream. To risk. To fall in spectacular pratfalls when we lose our balance. And to laugh with us and dust off our bruises.
Finding allies can be tough. I’ve spent a lot of time looking for them, over the years, and have had some spectacular successes and equally spectacular failures.
A few truths I’ve learned along the way:
Sometimes allies show up in completely unexpected places. Like poet David Whyte’s glorious line above, sometimes they are simply, quietly around us, and can give us energy if we see them and invite them in. Like the blue of the sky on a glorious spring morning, as it is on my Catskills mountainside this morning. The energy, beauty, and sense of possibility in the sky this morning, and in the response of the birds and unfurling leaves, feels like a completely tangible ally to me. I can dare to dream the impossible, because I’m surrounded by a day that has already done so. How cool is that?
The best human allies I’ve come across are, without fail, already busy in their own worlds, bringing what they’re dreaming into life. Not just talking about it. Not wrapping themselves in the trappings of the idea. But are deeply into the slogging work (and delights, too, but the work matters) of what they’re making. People who do this understand, viscerally, how much energy it takes to make something. They are not inclined to pull your energy, or ride it, or dismiss it.
When you find allies like that (and it can take some time to figure out how), you need to understand that you are asking them to share their rare and powerful energy with you, so you need to bring a gift as you come to them. Essentially, that gift is a piece of your own rare and powerful energy. Allies exchange gifts, they don’t simply ask for them.
Over the years, I’ve found that the best way to approach an ally is with an offer of a gift of my energy. Give first, then ask. Two things happen when you do this. First, an ally who truly has the kind of energy that will feed yours will be far more likely to be willing to share it if they feel that they aren’t simply being fed from. And second, by pulling up that generosity from your toes even when (particularly when) you feel like don’t have any left actually creates it. It is rather remarkably generative.
This can help you to find yourself as your one ally again, when you’ve lost that ability. Which can propel you forward, out of whatever deep spot of stuckness you’ve been trapped by.
May you find a great ally today. And may you give them as much as they give you.
Thoughts about allies in your life? Would love to hear about them in the comments!