This was the hot buttered insight that emerged yesterday (thank you, Shiva Nata).

Like most epiphanies, it sounds pretty stupid when you say it out loud. But it’s still a gleaming piece of truth, and now it lives in my body and is a source of comfort.

Nothing is wasted.

Nothing is wasted.

I spent five years as bartender in south Tel Aviv.

And if you read regularly, you probably know I worked in some pretty dive-ey places.

I knew a lot of people. And an astonishing variety of people.

Artists. Writers. Musicians. Intellectuals. Local celebrities.

Surfers. Motorcycle gang members. Counterfeiters. Tour guides. Cab drivers.

People who did stuff on the black market. On the grey market. Connected to the Moroccan mafia. People with bodyguards.

Once someone tried to follow me home. Once I got a vodka bottle thrown at me. Once someone smashed my cellphone.

Once I nailed someone in the face with a stack of about fifty coasters.

I learned a lot.

I learned a lot about sovereignty. About not taking other people’s shit personally.

About right people. About how to run a bar.

About managing (people, expectations, experiences).

About creating setting. About creating culture.

About ambience and the power of everything that happens behind the scene.

About beauty and safety and pain.

What I’m NOT saying.

I’m not saying these experiences were good.

I’m not saying that everything is for the best. Or that suffering is a gift. Or that we should all be more grateful.

No. I would never say anything like that. There’s way too much implied “this is how you should be” in there.

Just that — for me — nothing is wasted.

I don’t need to spend more time on regret for each moment that wasn’t spent making the world a better place.

Because all those moments have come together to put me here now and headed towards where I’m headed. Not wasted.

Once I had a gig as a choreographer.

No, really. For a children’s folk dance troupe that performed all over the midwest.

I haven’t thought about that in years.

Even though I probably use those skills all the time …

  • putting things (insights, projects, programs, ideas, words) in order
  • creating sequences for things to happen in my business
  • working with groups to make the impossible possible
  • awesome high kicks for when we do Ironic Aerobics (totally optional) at the Week of Biggification in Asheville in November. Wheeeeee!

That job — and everything that went with it — has nothing to do with my life right now.

And yet.

Nothing is wasted.

Once I spent ten months climbing trees.

I know about things that you can only know from spending a lot of time by yourself up in a tree.

Nothing is wasted.

Once I spent three months in bed.

Near-catatonic depression.

Nothing to wake up for.

Only loss and grief and blankness.

Now I know what that’s like.

I can identify with things my clients deal with. But without being in it.

And I have a different relationship with both fear and emptiness because I KNOW them.

And I have many, many entries in my version of the Book of You about what brings me out of those dark places.

Nothing is wasted.

So many things.

Big ones.

I have loved and been loved.

I have lost and been lost.

I have done terrible, terrible things. And had moments of redemption.

Nothing is wasted.

And so many small things too.

I bake bread, name moons, cry, laugh, dance, list things.

Sometimes I’m afraid and envious and exhausted. And sometimes I remember that I get to be the queen of my life.

Nothing is wasted.

Where the stuck happens.

In the resistance, guilt and blame.

In the moments of “But whyyyyyyyy is it like this?!”

And: “But whyyyyyyyyyy is it not already like that?”

When I don’t meet myself where I am.

When I forget to give legitimacy to whatever it is I’m feeling.

When I believe my fuzzy monsters instead of being curious about what is really going on.

When I forget that I have support and so I forget to invoke negotiators.

When I need to be right, and forget about all the good stuff that happens when I’m wrong.

And yet. Nothing is wasted.

So I can stop and remember again.

And should you want to take this deeper.

Of course the next piece is this:

If nothing is wasted, then it is possible to extract the learning and the good, and release the pain that is attached to it.

I know that intellectually you know all of this stuff. You’re bright. You get it. And the next part is the process of learning to know it. In your bones and your muscles and your cells.

And: if you want to know this in your body, Shiva Nata is definitely the best place to start.

(We’ll also be working on the how of this — implementation! — at the Week of Biggification. The password is pickles. We just had a cancellation. Three spots left. It would be a DELIGHT to have you there to destuckify with us.)

And in the comment blanket fort today…

We all have our stuff. We are all working on our stuff. It’s a process. It takes time.

This is tough territory. So, as always, if I accidentally stepped on your stuff while processing mine, I’m so sorry. That was absolutely not my intention.

Again, I would never, ever say that you “should” find value in any of the hard, awful things that have happened to you. That would be a pretty condescending, obnoxious and really kind of violent thing to say or imply.

So use this idea of “nothing is wasted” in a way that does feel safe and comfortable for you. And if it doesn’t? Permission to never have to engage with it. Do what you need to do.

*blows kiss*

The Fluent Self