Have you ever heard the phrase, “having it all?” It is an Art to living. As I master this Art (there is no end to mastery) I discover it all depends on my capacity of owning. It is the secret to all relationships, it is the secret to success. It is the secret to loving your life.
My first experience to “having it all” came when I was dating. Those were days when I would find myself (in my 20’s) yearning to have a companion. I would try all kinds of ways to win the hand of some fair maiden. I would try to impress them. I would try to lure them. I would try to go out on expensive dates. I would try to dress a certain way, act a certain way, dance a certain way; all with the intention of having them become my girlfriend. None of that worked.
My second experience of “having it all” came with regards to money. I would try working harder for it. I would try hard to save it. I would try hard to think of strategies to make a lot of it. None of that worked.
My third experience of “having it all” came with starting a family. I would try to divide my time selectively between work, and my hobbies, and my family. I would try to divide my time up, and portion it equally. I would try to send more time here, and less time there. I would try to become more efficient with how I spent my time. None of that worked either.
It all came together in the Spring of 1978. I was attending a two-week-end seminar that was called the est Training. They made a big deal of arriving to the classes on time, which was 9:00 AM. I didn’t want to be late as you would need to deal with being late at the door. One morning I over-slept. I had to drive from Orange County to Los Angeles County to be at the class. It was impossible to get there on time. As I raced on the freeway, something amazing happened. It was the experience of time, standing still. When I exited the freeway, it was like all of the lights were green. As I bounded from my car, and ran towards the convention center, I saw the volunteers who were producing the class cheering me on as I ran. I bounded through the doors just before they were closed, and found myself on time. It was a real victory for me. I was amazed at how it seemed, when I was highly-intentional, time seemed to stand still, and distance seemed to shrink. After that 2 week-end experience, everything in my life altered. My approach to life was turned around 180 degrees.
In relationships, I began to give up trying to impress people. I stopped being concerned about what others thought about me, I gave up trying so hard to be “interesting” to others and instead became very interested IN others. I found myself “over there” with them, wondering about what life was like for them, and more preoccupied on how and what I could contribute to others. One-on-one dates disappeared from my life, and group dates, that I concocted became my ways of socializing. I was more interested in having fun, and celebrating my relationships rather than strategically trying to capture some poor, unsuspecting woman as my mate. As a result of this new approach, I found myself rich in meaningful relationships, relaxed, free, and having the time of my life. Women started to become people, and not “sex objects” of my lust. It was almost by accident that I fell in love with someone. When at first, she was not so interested in me, it didn’t really matter to me. I just enjoyed my time spent with her, whether there were others present, or just the two of us. When I finally popped the question of marriage, I wasn’t upset or taken-aback by her uncertainty, and her inability to say yes. I found myself totally understanding, and not offended or insecure. I knew by being with her, that she needed time, and she wasn’t sure of herself. She was wary, but it wasn’t personal, it was her demons that needed to be sorted out. Around 30 days after I had proposed, she finally out-of-the-blue said “yes.” It was a natural expression, with no pressure, and no force, and absolutely no convincing.
With money, I found that whenever I needed money to buy something, all I had to do was focus on it, and pool all of my resources to gather the money together. I found that money was simply a tool, an invention of the agreement of the value of something. I recall doing a workshop on money by the same organization that delivered the est Training. One of the notebook exercises they instructed us to do was to write down the amount of money we knew if we had, we would be secure, and content, and without need. I wrote down the amount of One Billion Dollars. We were then instructed to begin to list what we would spend it on, and as we did, we were to subtract that cost from the total. (my total was one billion dollars) After buying all thing things I knew I needed and wanted, (a new house, on the coast, on a hillside, a new car for me and my wife, new wardrobe for the two of us, a new wedding ring, new computers, new furniture, stock investments, put aside money for retirement, buying stocks and bonds, and on and on, I found I had hardly dented the one billion dollars. So next I started to invest the money by buying real estate, and raw land. I hired consultants and began to develop the land. We created housing projects, commercial projects, industrial projects, recreational projects. It was funny, but I ended up doing what I already was doing as a civil engineer and consultant. I was already doing this. The only difference, was if I had a billion dollars, I would be able to say, that I owned the property. That was the only difference. They then asked, what would all of this wealth bring me. I saw, it would bring me “respect.” I would finally feel “respected.” The leader of the class then said some words that rocked me to the core. They said, whatever quality you think money will buy you, it is a quality you don’t provide for others…
This shocked me. I saw how I didn’t bring respect to my relationships. I withheld my respect, like it was a precious metal. I wouldn’t be generous when it came to this way of being. I also saw, I didn’t need a billion dollars to do this or to be this.
When it came to my family, I discovered that it wasn’t the amount of time or duration of time I spent with my family; my wife, my son, my daughter, my parents, my siblings, and other relations. It was the quality of time I spent. If I spent just 15 minutes intensely playing with my boy, before I went to work, or after I came home at night, it would be enriching and fulfilling, than if I had spent the entire day, watch television with him, or reading a book while he played. It was simply a matter of really being present when with my family that made the difference. Again I found that time slowed down, and that the world slowed down such that my intentions were able to be realized no matter how much time had passed.
This became my access to “having it all.” When you look at it, you have everything. You have the entire world. You may not be able to say you own it, but in reality do we ever truly own anything? Everything in this world will be left behind when you leave this world. You can’t take it with you. The physical objects, the real estate, the possessions all get left behind. All you can take with you is the love, the experiences that comprise a life. That is yours forever. You can be orbiting the moon, deep into space, and be carrying the loves of your life with you, in your heart. Love. That is it. Love is seeing things and people as perfect exactly the way they are and exactly the way they are not. (I heard that also in the est Training created by a man named Werner Erhard)
So that is the Art of “having it all.” It is as simple as loving your life, and everyone and everything in your life. Love.