ALL or NOTHINGposted May 25 2008 · 7 Comments
I am often asked why I chose the title of this album to be ALL or NOTHING. Because it’s something that means a lot to me, and because I often wish I could say more when condensing my verbal answer into a couple of sentences, I have decided to write a little about it here, on my blog. I hope it becomes an ongoing discussion among any who are interested in this dialogue. So please feel free to write your own comments here about what ALL or NOTHING means to you, or a comment in response to what anyone else here has said…or write just whatever comes to mind. Your participation is welcomed!
ALL or NOTHING refers to the resolve that is required in order to know life’s true potential. ALL or NOTHING is about complete commitment to one’s truest voice, regardless of the risks or the consequences. It means to be willing to face whatever appears without any hope of avoiding it; it means to turn toward whatever is uncomfortable, rather than away from it; it means to let go of whatever is being held onto, and to leap into the unknown.
Conventional wisdom is defensive; it advocates never placing all our eggs in one basket, and this may be a useful strategy for practical matters. But true wisdom knows no strategy. True wisdom moves us to place all of our eggs in one basket in a heartbeat. It knows only what it is called to do, regardless of what may be ‘right’, ‘good’ or ‘sensible’.
What keeps us from accessing this wisdom is our strategies of running from or reacting to what appears. The primary choice we are faced with at any moment is between, on the one hand, avoiding whatever is unknown by following what is instead perceived as safe, comfortable, and defined; and, on the other hand, giving up our usual avoidance, and saying Yes to the unknown. The most critical turning points occur when this choice is taken to the extreme: when being true to ourselves requires us to put it all on the line, and the choice is one of ALL or NOTHING.
This creates an opportunity to allow life to become an exploration; an unfolding; a process of discovery. Instead of living defensively, there can be an openness to what life presents. We can allow ourselves to be touched by it, rather than insisting on protecting ourselves from it. Then, its true potential begins to become evident.
ALL or NOTHING might ring true about something particular happening in our lives – it may mean a determination to see an undertaking through until its conclusion, no matter what the obstacles, simply because you know you must. It may mean telling the truth to a person or a group of people under the most uncomfortable circumstances, regardless of the expected messy consequences, simply because, for you, it is the truth. It may mean being willing to expose yourself, without putting an ounce of energy into the strategies of hiding or protection, and to show yourself as who you are right now, without apology. All of it involves a willingness to meet the challenges of one’s own internal space of emotions and identity, and to look directly at whatever is revealed in this ongoing exploration.
No one can say what will be revealed, or where this embrace of the unknown will lead – only that where it leads will no longer be the result of a life driven by fear and a sense of lack or incompleteness. When this commitment to the core of who we are brings us face to face with all that we would rather avoid, it’s ALL or NOTHING. It’s an opportunity to commit so fully to what moves one most strongly, that in that commitment all that has been held onto – all our need to control, our need to know the outcome, our clinging to our identities – is dropped. In these situations, anything less than an absolute Yes, is simply a No. We can justify a decision to say No, to turn away and never know what lies on the other side. Or we can say Yes to what is moving us, and without any hope of escape, without any safety line, without looking back over our shoulders, walk right into the unknown. The choice is ours.
Ultimately, one’s entire life can become a total commitment to what is moving a person; an extended, resounding, ‘Yes’ to life and to all its challenges and discoveries. In letting go of our requirements for what we think we need to be free; in loosening our grip on the conditions that we think will finally give us happiness; we can give our ALL to life, right now, without further procrastination, and know that this freedom of saying Yes to life is a choice that is available at any moment.