The Smashing Trees

“Do you think I ‘Get’ How the world works?”

Damn, It’s a looong, exhausting and crazy journey to indifference sometimes.

This week it was a challenge, a fight; wrestling and struggle. I was burning inside, with a bonfire of insecurity. Someone else had ignited the flame, it seemed. It felt at first, that words spoken in a probing conversation by a loved and trusted person, forced me into this red-hot corner. I spent hours and hours agonizing, analyzing and intellectually proving my own points, in my own head, and whinigly out loud to my wife. I was singed and raw and lashing out in retaliation after the phone was hung up. I was defending myself, from this brutal emotional attack. Until I asked for real help, and created sweet relief.

Here’s the Big One. Here’s a question that I would have been terrified to ask you, before Wednesday afternoon…

“Do you think I ‘Get’ How the world works?”

Wow. Damn. This morning, typing those words is so plain-jane and uneventful. I wonder if this post will have any impact at all? But the truth is, I just laid out here, a deep and painful insecurity of my own, that I’ve been lugging around for 3 decades or so…

Yeah, the question of Do I Get it? Or am I screwing up this life, because everyone else has the world figured out, and I don’t. I really want to flesh out, the depth and breadth of this  vicious pet insecurity, and sharp-toothed mental terror of mine. It looks sorta like this:

  • “See! What you don’t understand is, what you’re doing is a waste. People don’t want you, and you don’t get it. The world don’t work that way!”
  • “Everyone knows you can’t just switch your life upside-down! You are, who you are, and it will always be that way!”
  • “You don’t ‘get’ what real life is like, for a real person! You’re a foolish dreamer!”
  • “You have wasted your potential. You have messed up your life. You’re living like a pauper and it’s a shame!”
  • “You have no real life experience. You live in a tiny box in the world. You haven’t really seen or lived any significance. You have nothing special to offer anyone!
  • “You definitely don’t work hard. You’re lazy, and you don’t ‘Get’ that your ideas are crack-pot and unrealistic. You just generally SUCK!”

And stuff like that… Actually, if a person were to say these things to me, and really try to twist the knife, they couldn’t be half as hurtful to me, as I have already been to myself.

So when a well meaning person, even spoke somewhere near the realm of these insecurities to me. I was pissed! I was mad at this individual. I looked at them, in my own mind, and yelled, “What gives you the right to judge me!” Except, it wasn’t them. It was me. I was judging myself, just as I had been for as long as I can remember. That is why all my efforts to prove wrong these words to another person, would have been wasted again.

I had to move through this pain and emotion in my own mind, to forgive myself. And actually it was even easier than that.

See, one thing I can tell you for sure, is that I used my IMEXCELLENTTOOL this week. When I was so pissed and upset and hurt after this conversation. I took it to an expert. I used the guidance of someone other than me, and other than my supportive wife, or even my pastor, or friends. I took it to my Coach. Funny thing was this; when I unloaded this garbage-can-full of junk on the workspace between us, she laughed. She was thrilled. She began with words of thankfulness for this person who gifted me the opportunity to fix this mess. The person who pushed my buttons, did shine a light on my wound. Now it was clear where my work needed to be done. Thank You.

She said, “This is great, because before now, you were scared to deal with your own sh!t!, it’s time that you do that!” She doesn’t pull punches 🙂

Then when she offered me an opportunity to do an extreme exercise. I took it. See, when these words “You don’t get how the world works!” were spoken, I was ablaze with emotion. Even when she said them and warned me first, the angry cry came. The exercise then, was to release that anger, that pent-up energy around those words…

It went down like this, in Forest Park, Ottawa, Kansas. I got out of the car, with my phone in my pocket and headset on. Hands and body free, she pounded me with the words of one of my own worst insecurities. I first stood on a picnic table, and breathed real deep. Swinging my arms to move the energy and anger, it wasn’t enough. She wanted more to come out… I stormed up and over the dyke. Crashing down into the woods, she pelted me again with the words “You don’t get it Aaron! You’ve got no experience in life! You SUCK!” and I ripped a dead limb from the ground and threw it! Grabbing another I was grunting and cursing and smashing wood against wood. Dead pieces flying and impact after impact finally led to a loud guttural scream! “Hit me again,” I ordered her. Again she brought the words. By now I was heaving. Stomping further into the woods, I splashed across rocks, a creek bed. Clawing up a hill, into a farmer’s field, and as I was starting to lose my breath…

… Her words were starting to lose their grip on me. I heard her saying them in my ears, but the message was dulling, it got smaller and quieter. It kinda sounded like a pipsqueak mouse, chattering at me. This wasn’t due to her pulling back, it was because I had let out, some of the emotion surrounding those words. I was sucking wind and walking in the woods. I was in a brand new place, that I had never been before.

A fifth time, I asked her to tell me how much I suck, how I don’t understand how the world works. Again she balled up a bunch of insults and smacked me with them… But this time, they floated past my awareness. I heard something coming from her, but the TREES! The TREES had my attention! Wow, God has created an amazing universe! This place is just packed with visual delights! Oh Wow, Lord, How blessed I was to get to walk in the woods that day! It was really such a warm afternoon in winter, and the paths were clear and open. This place is right here, in my hometown, and I had never walked around back here before.

Wow, was right. Once I had done the exhausting work of releasing the energy around my insecurity, it had no power over me anymore. I was laughing at Megan, and playing around with her. Bless her, she was really trying to keep me pissed off at that point, but nothin’ doing. SHE wasn’t doing it. It wasn’t from HER. Or even really from the words themselves. It was in me. I had been holding that anger. It was a ball in my own court, the whole time. And now I had released that purposely, intentionally, because it didn’t serve me well, to hang on anymore. I AM EXCELLENT.

This is the kind of work that must be done, if I am to truly help others. I gotta put the oxygen mask on myself before the person next to me. I am doing that.

And after the conversation, I was full of good energy and light. I expressed my deep love to Megan for her work with me. I wanted to talk about this idea! I wanted to find someone to ask the question of, “Do you think I Get, how the world works?” Really, I did, and I do! What a great conversation starter! The truth is that there are 7 billion people on this planet. I think each one of us is a unique and different lens through which we experience this common globe. Seems to me, there are 7 billion different versions of what the world looks like. We each see and experience something profound and wonderful, tragic and holy in different ways. So do I ‘Get’ how YOUR world works? I would like to. If you don’t think I ‘Get’ how The World works, then maybe I don’t want your opinion. Or maybe we could figure out together, what makes you want to say that about me. Among us people, there isn’t one expert. Not one of us has all the experience. We do all have something useful to offer the human collective. I am doing my service to the world, right now, in my unique way.

I see life as a movie, not a snapshot. This is a point in the film where the character has been through some dark times. There is a belief in light ahead. This valley is the way to another peak, a new view and vista. And this traveler right here, has a companion that knows the way. The one who created this place, is the one who walks with me. For that, I am eternally grateful.


Aaron Nichols

PS: This blog has been sent to the individual that I had this challenging conversation with. The initial response was ‘Very Interesting Reading.’ I do thank this person, for pushing my buttons, and allowing this growth to happen.

You’re invited to join the next weirdforgood hangout, and engage in a workshop on The Smashing Trees – you’ll need a free Google+ account, 45minutes to engage with us, at 5:30 CST, and device with a camera & headset/microphone. If you can Skype, you can do this, (it’s actually really easy  ) Then email me at – before Tuesday – I’ll send you the hangout invite when we start.

Check out last week’s hangout here, to get a feel for it. Join us if you dare!

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