When Everything Goes Wrong, How Do We Know It's Alright?

Brad Korpalski
When Everything Goes Wrong, How Do We Know It's Alright?

This past weekend, my 34th birthday arrived. I spent the better part of it alone, well—I should say alone from anyone I know personally, on a full moon day at a secluded natural spring water temple here in Bali.

It being the full moon, it was an important day of pilgrimage for the Balinese, and as is the tradition locally, offered me the perfect opportunity for cleansing and reflection—from which I’d like to share the following:

I am following a calling. I wish this calling came to me with a deep Sermon on the Mount assuredness about it, but it hasn’t. The “calling” is essentially a series of several questions I ask myself quietly in moments of reflection, moments that occur, not frequently, but at various intervals in my life.

The questions are: What are my gifts? How can I share my gifts? How can I be of service? How can I be comfortable with death? Who the f*** am I? 

So, in a period of reflection I’ll ask these questions. And then I go to sleep (literally, not metaphorically), and wake up the next day to life.

Life feels normal, and though it is, it is also charged with this “calling”—or rather, it is charged with this set of newly formed directions from my subconscious, directions bringing me closer to these very questions.

The only reason I know this is because from time-to-time the path I’m on gets validated. When I need to see that all isn’t for naught, I am shown. You see, most of what “I’m going with” by following a “calling” is a faith-based certainty that there’s more to life—and more to what I can offer. And that’s it.

Am I On The Right Path?

To be certain, it isn’t always clear where this calling is taking me, and I often feel confused. “Am I on the right path?” is a consistent question of mine.

What is it really to go for it—even if you don’t know what that IT is? Is it ok to move in a direction that doesn’t have a solid plan in place at the get-go? Can we give-up our identity, our sense of comfort (including a paycheck), to challenge our own rhythms of potential?

Here’s a story from the book of me to perhaps help with these questions...

This year, we went flat out, bottoms up, any which way you cut it, broke. Broke. Like, we had to count change to pick up laundry. No savings. No 401k. No investment portfolio. Gone. Chasing dreams. Following a “hunch”.

Trust me, any question you could pose with that information in mind, I’ve already asked a thousand times. This was a big assumption, a big agreement (as Don Miguel Ruiz puts it) challenged at its core-- Darwin’s Survival of the Fittest poking me squarely in the chest.

Was every choice I’d made over the last 4 years leading me down a drain of despair? Every fear, and every assumption I’d had about “being broke” came together for an intervention of-sorts in my psyche.

We (as in the voices of “I”) did a lot of talking—when assumptions, and fears—are in the mix it can be a very verbose place.

The culture of my origin says we’re not supposed to speak about such things. We can talk about most anything, but when it comes to our finances, mum’s the word. So what did I have to do…I had to talk about it. I had to reach out to friends and family, I had to be honest and ok with this situation.

I was really afraid-- really afraid.

Everything about everything I knew in life said to me, go ahead and challenge your self here, here, and here… but always with a bank account. Now there’s no bank account! What now?

Here’s what’s now…I’m still here! This isn’t some well-that-was-tough-but-look-how-I-made-it-story. This is still my story… I’m still living this reality.

I feel closer to my gifts—to the essence of me—than ever before. I feel super-charged, ready for everything, confident in life, aware that the possibilities exist beyond our imaginations.

The limitations we create for ourselves are formed by our fears. Until we explore those fears, we will remain conditioned to live within our self-imposed limitations.

The earliest explorers thought the world was flat, and it wasn’t until they went towards the horizon, completely locked in crippling fear, that they realized that the horizon, and by extension-- our self-imposed limitations, is only a mirage. The horizon, the limit of our capacity, has no end.

At 34, I’m feeling ready to explore new horizons. It is a happy birthday indeed.