The other morning, I woke up from a sweet sleep and had something I needed to write down.
Maybe it was for you.
Maybe it was for me.
But I’m pretty sure it was for all of us.
I’m standing in a house I don’t recognize, talking to a woman I don’t know.
In her arms she holds a wicker basket of clothes. The basket is overflowing with clean laundry.
She’s struggling to keep the basket level, but even as I ask her if she’d like me to share the load or suggest that she set it down, she shrugs me off and instead asks me what I do for work.
I say succinctly, "I help people find the parts of themselves that they have dropped along the way. The parts that, when reintegrated, make them whole."
"Oh," she says, "That sounds good and important. Sacred work."
"It is," I agree earnestly, "And I am so deeply honoured to get to do it."
I notice that she has dropped a pair of socks.
I bend down to pick them up. "Here you go," I say.
"Oh, thank you. Those are my favourite socks. They were given to me by my beloved great-aunt, may she rest in peace. Feel how soft they are. Cashmere. They are my luckiest ones and make me so happy when I wear them. I honestly can’t live without them."
I reach over to add them back to her basket, but they slip off again.
"Can you hold them for me?" she asks, "I just can’t seem to keep them in my basket."
"Sure," I say.
We chat for a while longer. Me holding her socks. She holding her basket of clean clothes. I see generic white tube socks poking out. Tube socks that aren’t tied to her ancestry. That don't bring her luck. That aren’t part of her soul. They may be functional, yes. But they are not essential to her joy.
And then I have another thought.
"Honey?" I say. (By now we're close enough for me to call her "honey".) "I’m pretty good at holding these socks. Haven’t dropped ‘em once. But here’s what I’m wondering: wouldn’t it be better if you held onto them? You love them so. Maybe you could put the basket down, reorganize, take some stuff out, and make some room for what you say is important."
"That’s a good idea," she says.
And that’s when I woke up.
I woke up to the fact that those socks are your writing. Your calling. The parts of your soul that want attention.
The things you want to claim that you know are deeply important to you. That you say are deeply important to you. The things that no one else has any business holding on your behalf.
We know, of course, that the holiness isn’t in the tube socks. The holiness isn’t even in what you say you want. The holiness is in owning up to what you say you know and want and doing right by it. In claiming it.
And that’s our job as visionaries, change-makers, and leaders.
Your job. My job.
To honour the things we say we want. The things we say are important.
We visionaries, change-makers, and leaders do not allow our gifts to slip through our fingers into the waiting hands of others who could not, should not hold that which is intended for us and us alone.
Put the basket down, honey. Make the space. And tend to the socks.
PS – Deep bow of thanks to my soul-sister, the visionary Amy Palko for helping me process this dream.