I’m tired. I flew in late last night to Portland, Oregon, for a writing workshop I’m teaching tomorrow. Then I’m headed back home to the new house and new life that’s waiting for me. The summer schedule has started this week, so we have kids loafing around the residence repeatedly droning on all day, “I’m bored.” Not the worst of problems in the world, I admit, and all things considered, I’m grateful. But still, I’m tired.
I’m reminded of a mantra I learned back in 2020 when life seemed to slow to a halt and every day still felt like a slog. I was in a men’s group at the time, and one of our guest facilitators shared it with us. As a midwesterner who has pridefully pulled himself up by his metaphorical bootstraps for most of his life, the simple phrase offended me:
Let it be easy.
The way she said it sounded like a child squealing to her parents on Christmas morning to get out of bed: “Let it be… easy!” It seemed too hard to believe. The solution to my problems, the secret relief to all my stressors, was to simply let it be… easy? That couldn’t be. Growing up middle class in the farmlands of rural Illinois, I had been trained to work hard my whole life, to push myself to the max. If there was no pain, there was no gain. No progress without struggle.
But over time, that started to feel exhausting. Did I really have to kill myself to live the life I wanted? Didn’t that defeat the purpose? What good is a life you strive to create if you can’t even enjoy it? The whole pursuit started to lose its significance—all this hustling, and for what? It really did seem like chasing after the wind. It couldn’t really be easy. Could it?
But what if? What if I at least tried to let life be something other than a banal exercise in pain and disappointment? That sounds dramatic, to be sure, but for most of my life I was so distracted by what I wanted that I was blind to what I had. And all that was starting to wear on me. So I decided to try, to let life be easier than I was making it.
I began to allow things to happen and listen to my intuition, paying attention to the little voice inside when it said, “I don’t want to do that” or “That sounds like fun!” The voice didn’t always get exactly what it wanted, because sometimes it sounded like a child asking for candy, but I gave it the space and attention it needed, honoring its (and, I soon learned, my) desires.
And guess what? Life started to feel easier. The burden was lighter, the yoke not so heavy. I wondered if maybe all of life could be like this. Perhaps I didn’t have to overextend myself to achieve things only to wonder what it was all for. Maybe I could just enjoy this experience as much as possible, tasting each morsel of life as it’s presented to me, one bite at a time.
These days, when I find myself up against the wall with all these things I “have to do,” I start to get suspicious. Is it true? Is it absolutely right that all these things must be done right now, or is this just an old program running in my mind, demanding that I stay busy and productive so that I can demonstrate my worth to the world? Now, don’t get me wrong. Things need to get done on occasion. But, in my experience, far less than we assume is actually necessary.
Today, I’ve got a workshop to prepare for, a manuscript to deliver to a publisher for a ghostwriting client, and some friends to see. I choose to let it be easy, to be surprised by what unfolds, and do my best with how I respond to the inevitable surprises.
Career-wise, I continue to want to share ideas that interest me with others. I love the catharsis of coming across a concept and sharing my take on it, in writing or in audio, then seeing the reaction of an audience to it.
That’s the magic of what blogging used to be, and still, there’s nothing quite like it. I hope to continue being able to do that, in whatever format makes sense, expressing my voice in a way that resonates with others and helps me clarify my own thinking.
I struggle to find the right time to fit it all in, though, while honoring my professional and personal commitments. I want to be creative and do good work and make a decent living while taking care of my family and myself. And there’s never quite enough time to do it all; or rather, there’s always exactly enough time and not a minute more.
So, my friend, let us let it be easy together. I admit that such a challenge at times sounds, well, difficult. Isn’t that ironic? I suppose, then, that’s the work facing us. Maybe it doesn’t have to be so hard. Maybe it all can feel a little lighter, a little more effortless. Maybe it can be easy.
I’m willing to try—and in some cases, to stop. Are you?