Nearly Unbearable

Yesterday morning when my wife Christiana dropped me off at the train and gave me a hug she said, “I’m getting really excited for Ireland!”

For those of you who are new to following our adventures, we are a mere one week away from embarking on our first overseas teaching experience and sacred site retreat which will cover multiple destinations in Ireland.

My reply to Christiana yesterday morning?

“I’m trying to get excited…”

She looked like I had just stolen her lunch money. She repeated my words back to me with a long question mark lingering at the end:

“You’re TRYING to get excited???”

I realized that my enthusiasm had left something to be desired so I tried to explain myself. What I said to her was, “I think when we get there it’s going to be a big relief for me so I’ll be really excited then. Until then I just have so many things that I need to finish up. I’m finding the weight to be nearly unbearable…”

The words nearly unbearable hung in the air for about 15 seconds and then she said, “That makes me sad. I hope there is something I can do to help you.” She spoke from a place of sincerity and hope. Sincerity that she truly wanted me to ask for help.  Hope that I wouldn’t ruin the next seven days of the countdown by being morose and overwhelmed.

Little did she know that she helped me instantaneously just by showing me her loving, wrinkled and hopeful smile. As I walked to the train I began to realize how ridiculous my word choice nearly unbearable had been. I spend a decent amount of my time these days speaking to audiences, facilitating workshops and talking to one-on-one coaching clients about acceptance. One of the lines I use most often is, “Everything is always exactly as it is supposed to be…” For someone who preaches about acceptance, I found myself doing a fine job of ignoring my own advice.

Yesterday morning I sat down in a half empty train car because my stop is near the beginning of the line. I forgot my headphones so I couldn’t listen to any music. Instead I drank in the sounds of a mother trying to quiet her young daughter who was sitting in a stroller in the aisle. The little girl certainly wasn’t causing any trouble. In fact she seemed to be hollering with a great deal of joy. Her poor mother just looked exhausted. She looked like she needed a good deal more sleep and a quiet moment of peace or two.

belmont_magnumOver the next few stops the train car filled up to its normal standing room only capacity. By the time we reached the Fullerton stop, where people can transfer from train to train without paying a transfer fee, we had reached the literal sardines in a can state where backpacks war with each other as people try to turn and try to find space.

When the train doors opened at Fullerton a man in a motorized wheelchair sat trying to enter our car. Both of his legs were gone from below the knee down. I have no idea how or when he lost his legs, but in that moment I did know one thing…

I knew that my definition of nearly unbearable paled in comparison to the mom in need of some rest and the man with no legs. I was embarrassed by my feeling sorry for myself just 20 minutes ago, but I also felt grateful for the awakening.

A year ago almost to the day, Christiana and I sat in a hotel room outside of Ennis, Ireland. We had just finished a very average plate of fish and chips and had a couple of average pints of Guinness. This was after two weeks of fabulous meals and mind bending Guinness. We were on the last night of our two week trip that had cemented the beginning of our transformation. Infinite Possibilities planted the seed. Experiencing Ireland together nurtured the germination of hope. As we sat in that hotel room that night a year ago we were so sad that at times we were openly weeping. They tears were not tears of joy. We were scared!

We were scared that we might never get back to Ireland and re-live the connection to self and the connection to all living things that we had just experienced. We were scared that we had just spent way more money than we should have spent on a trip that we probably couldn’t afford but desperately needed. We were scared of the amount of the changes we would have to make and the work we would have to do upon our return.

We were also scared of something that we knew was looming in the near future. Our impending, wildly successful lives.

Many people write about how fear of success can hold a person back from experiencing true success. In my mind and in my world it has always been fear of CHANGE that has held me back from taking my successes to the next level.

A week from today we will leave for a return trip to Ireland that we could have never imagined a year ago as we wept in the Ennis hotel room. We will be teaching a program that we had not yet even taught a year ago, but this will now be our sixth time leading the program. We will then be co-leading a journey to an impressive list of Ireland’s ancient sacred sights with a Shaman friend we serendipitously met on our trip last year. Our airfare and the majority expenses are being covered by the revenue from the workshops and the tour. We are much more financially sound than we were a year ago and we are creating new revenue streams everyday.

So much has changed in our lives in the last year. It hasn’t always been easy and it has required a great deal of work and action, but the rewards have been bountiful and enriching.

When I reached my stop at the end of my train ride yesterday morning the car was back to half full. The majority of the people get off one stop before I do. The man in the wheelchair was gone, but the mother with the young child in the stroller was still on the train. The little girl had dozed off from all the movement and vibrations of the train. As I was exiting the car, I smiled at the mother and said, “Now that your daughter has fallen asleep you can relax a bit yourself, huh?”

The lovely lady looked at me a bit surprised and said, “Oh, she’s not my daughter. I’m looking after her for a friend who is in the hospital. She keeps me busy, but I am really glad to be able to help…”

You know what else has changed in my life since a year ago? A year ago my eyes would never have been open enough to notice any of this! Either the personal stuff or the things that happened on the train.

When I really stop and think about it, I find my new life entirely bearable. I am so grateful for the awakening…

About Jim Herbert

I've been wanting to write my whole life. By age 45 it had amounted to nothing more than a storage locker of half full journals and a lot of unfulfilled dreams. Then Paris in the fall of 2011 happened. It was the catalyst I needed to consistently blog. At first I had a hard time hitting the publish button, but now two blog sites and over 300 posts later I'm hitting my stride. I'm also a budding speech writer. I've recently been heavily involved in the Chicago Storytelling scene and have also won the Chicago Toastmasters Area 66 International Speech Contest. Check out our website at for more details about the amazing things that are happening in my life. A book or two are nearing completion. With another Paris trip on tap for Easter of 2015 I can only imagine that there are Infinite Possibilities on the horizon!!!
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2 Responses to Nearly Unbearable

  1. wendydoherty says:

    Jim, this story is beautiful and shows what can happen when we live life with our eyes wide open. We may feel vulnerable amidst change that exposes us in a new way. The best thing to do is feel the fear and do it anyway.

  2. So excited for you guys and your upcoming trip to Ireland! Your blog post with the story of your journey over the last year is very inspiring, and reminds me of that scary thing that plagues us all-FEAR! You are not alone, my friend. As a matter of fact, I just finished a 45 minute phone call with a local NEWBIE real estate investor who just contracted on a house rehab project, after only 1-1/2 months of being in the real estate investing business! This young Hispanic lady (29 yrs old with 2 kids under 6 yrs of age) is going to be the Project Manager on an Historic Home in Naperville with an Ask price of $310,000 and a Rehab budget of $100,000!! And yes, this is her 1st deal !! She is excited and SCARED, but things are coming together for her FAST! Her desire to just “Do It” has pushed her forward in exciting new ways, and we (Horizon Investment Properties) will be meeting with her this Sunday to bring our services to the table for future real estate joint ventures. As we get our business off the ground, I feel FEAR everyday, however, stories like yours and hers inspire me and push me way beyond my ‘comfort zone’ (which is where I am not spending much time these days). I can’t wait to see where my new journey will take me in a year. As always, Jim, the thoughts and lessons that you share here and elsewhere are of GREAT VALUE to me and I am sure to many others as well. I am truly GRATEFUL!!!

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