I’ve been both attracted and repelled by an idea that’s gained traction in our culture: that whatever we are supposed to do should feel easy, as in ease-filled. There should be an ease about our choices, and if something is hard, it might not be the right thing for us.
I’ve always thought: What about the Civil Rights movement, and all the hard stuff people did to gain voting rights, to take their rightful place as full citizens? What about every social movement involving people making choices that revealed the truth and pressed for change? What if they’d espoused this philosophy of “ease”—where would our planet be now?
On the other hand, I love the idea of ease! I love the idea that our choices can fit us so thoroughly that our actions and expressions just flow.
Maybe that’s because it’s taken me so long to get over the notion that whatever’s easy for me must not be worth doing. Must not be a gift at all.
Earlier this year a much-admired community organizer stunned me by cluing me in to my impact. Apparently all the stuff I do that comes naturally—reading, thinking deeply, caring, listening, offering insight and concern, connecting people—has helped his organization in ways I couldn’t even imagine.
Here I thought I was just sitting there being thinky/feely, not really “doing” anything.
It’s so easy to discount our native gifts and think we should do more or be different. As Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Diaz counseled a young writer asking how to find her audience: Do You.
So I am learning to follow ease in that regard, and not think that I must work against the grain to offer something of value. After all, the very things that come easy for me might be the hardest things for someone else. Why not play to our strengths?
However, I don’t believe that nothing we attempt should ever be difficult, or that we’re “doing it wrong” if we run into difficulties. I know that writing a book is hard. I know that showing up and being vulnerable is hard. I know that holding people accountable is really damn hard.
Some of these things, at various times and for various people, might be the exact next right thing, no matter how hard. We can tell if they are by keying into a sense of rightness deep in the marrow of our bones.
My new barometer is less about ease and more about alignment. So if something seems hard but still feels right? That’s the direction I need to go.