Making Room

I hate moving. A LOT. My friend Steven defines hell as the experience of packing up all your things, moving them down the street, unpacking the very last item, and then someone appearing at the door to tell you, “Oops, wrong house. You’re one more over. You’re gonna need to pack this all up and move again.” And then repeating that endlessly throughout all of time.

Why is moving the worst? Because of all the STUFF, most of it junk. Because we keep accumulating and grasping, thinking “I might need this one day,” or “This was so meaningful at the time,” or “It could fit again, I’m sure.” {Believe me when I say you’re nearly always wrong about that last one.} And so we carry all this with us, piling it up and dragging it along, acting as if we have limitless strength and room.

I was listening to a wonderful podcast today, an interview with a man named Mark Canlis who owns one of the country’s best restaurants, passed down through generations of his family. He’s certainly known for that, but more recently, he’s emerging as a leading thinker in the hospitality world, redefining the model for who to hire and why in the industry. He was telling a story about visiting the home of another hero of mine, Bob Goff, who routinely hosts influential people in his home in the mountains, telling them stories about how to be better leaders. Mark referenced something that Bob challenged them to on their visit, which hit me like a hammer: “What are you going to leave behind so you can become who you’re trying to become? What space are you going to carve out to make room for the next best parts?”

It’s so simple, but in such opposition to the manipulative culture we are living in. A culture of fear and comparison, of security at all costs and faith in nothing but your own control. When was the last time you heard a message contradicting that? I can tell you it had been a great while for me, externally, but internally it has been dripping on to my forehead like water torture for months now. Clinging to what has been, what feels secure, may leave you safe but it will definitely leave you stunted. I have friends living this kind of life and it utterly breaks my heart, mostly because I lived it myself, and while it was never risky, it was dark, and lonely, and deeply unfulfilling. I know that the great things will not find a home with you until you make room for them to arrive, hold the door open, and wait. We must prepare for the possibility, carve out the space, and have unwavering faith that openness will not go wasted.

Mark’s interview deeply resonated with me not just as a human being trying to live their greatest life, but also as a dedicated member of the hospitality field myself. He spoke of how Bob’s use of the imagery of carving out space actually finds its roots in hospitality, which can trace its definition to the idea of making room for a stranger, sacrificing one’s own portion and offering it to another, taking them in and nourishing them. 

Simply said, neither growth nor hospitality can exist without sacrifice. And sacrifice cannot happen without the willingness to be vulnerable.

I have been on a three year journey to recenter my entire life – all my choices, all my influences, all my undertakings – around one word: vulnerability. Everything I wanted – EVERYTHING – showed itself to be on the other side of living vulnerably. Love, connection, revolution, service, wonder. If anything I had or did put distance between me and the ability to be vulnerable and present, it had to go. My girl Brene Brown defines vulnerability as “the core of shame and fear and our struggle for worthiness, but also the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love.” She also says that you can’t selectively numb vulnerability. You can’t keep out the bad and feel the good. You mute one, you invariably mute them all. You have to sort through it all, face it head on, and work through what stays and what has to go, allowing for better things.

So tonight I say this. Be vulnerable. Sacrifice security. Carve out space. Hold the door open to the goodness around you, asking to come closer if you’ll just make the room. 

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