The Follow is an excerpt from Still on Fire: A Memoir by Renee Linnell. Published by Pink Skeleton Publishing. Copyright © 2022 by Renee Linnell.
Chapter 1: Slow Down
I have a confession to make: I’m not very good at being human. I still can’t figure it out. For the life of me, I cannot figure out other people, and even after all these years of trying, I can’t figure out myself. And maybe that’s the whole point. Maybe that’s what makes life dynamic and thrilling. I’m not sure. Maybe “I’m not sure” is the answer to all of it.
I have noticed that anytime I think I’m sure, life comes along and proves me wrong. I have noticed that anytime I think I’m sure, I turn into a bit of an asshole. I close my mind to ideas and concepts and people that oppose the way I think I’m sure. And I am really beginning to see how quantum physics is right when it tells us there are billions of simultaneous realities. The Buddha said, “With our thoughts we make the world.” Science is finally catching up to what the mystics, saints, and shamans have been saying for thousands of years: our thoughts create our reality. There are billions of us, each with a unique perspective, so there are billions of simultaneous realities. No wonder we can’t get along.
What if we stopped trying so hard to get others to see from our point of view? What if we finally realized our point of view works for us because it is ours. But everyone else has a point of view that works for each one of them. If it didn’t work, they would seek alternative information and change it.
What if life on Earth really is just the ultimate video game? We incarnate in these bodies, and like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and the other characters do in the movie Jumanji, we have to figure out how our avatars work. We discover our strengths and weaknesses. We learn about our bodies, our flaws, and our unique skill sets. We discover our likes and dislikes. Personal preferences. And we fine-tune as we go.
We get plopped into these bodies and these personalities that are constantly surprising us. And at the same time, we get plopped into a world where every single other human is living in a different reality, looking through a different lens. They are creating from a different lens, and with a different skill set, different wants and needs. And then we add that each human is projecting that different reality onto everybody else: Thieves think everyone else is stealing from them; lovers think everyone else has good intentions; cheaters think everyone else is cheating; fighters always find people with whom to fight. You get the point.
Combine all that with the fact that when we are young, and often for most of our lives, we bend and mold and shape ourselves into false versions of ourselves to fit in and people-please. And we end up with a shit show. Seriously. It’s fascinating.
The only way to unwind the shit show is for each one of us to stop caring so much about what other people think about us, to stop comparing our lives to the lives of others, to start discovering who we truly are, and then to build an authentic life around it. This raises us up, out of the mess, and it washes off the shit so that we sparkle with light. If we trust that we are here for a reason, that we are unique for a reason, and that a divine path is already lined up for us, life gets a lot easier. As we admit we do not know, that it is all a mystery, that as soon as we think we have the world or ourselves or anyone else figured out, we get the carpet pulled out from under us—we get our paradigm shattered—life gets a lot more fun. It’s like walking up to the River of Life and someone asking, “Where does this river go?” and you answer, “I have no idea, but it sure looks like fun!” and jump in. Arms up in the air. Ready for the ride. Trusting that wherever the ride leads is someplace amazing.
This morning I was meditating in my favorite living room chair, and I had a vision of myself in that same chair at about eighty years old. I saw how little and how wrinkled and how wise this version of me was. She was glowing. She was so patient, so calm, so content. And she offered me advice. She said to me, “Slow down.”
Just those two words.
She sat there in her comfy lounge clothing with her warm cup of coffee, and she was so beautiful in her calm, in her peace, in her wisdom.
She said, “You will be here in a flash, and you don’t want to miss any moment of it.” She told me, “It is all coming. All of it. All that you dream about. But it is not your work to do. It is God’s work to do through you. If you do not slow down, you cannot be a clear channel. The same way you cannot rush a baby into this world, you cannot rush your accomplishments; they will be born when they are meant to be born, after the proper gestation. Your unique contribution will be offered. It must be. But if you rush the process, you end up with a child that does not have fully function- ing lungs. So, please, my love, slow down.”
Renee Linnell is a serial entrepreneur who has founded or cofounded five companies and has an MBA from New York University; before that she was a model and professional dancer. Her mission is to remind people Who They Truly Are and to reignite their passion for being alive. What began as writing for catharsis in 2013—as she struggled to regain her sanity after being brainwashed in a Buddhist cult—turned into her first memoir, ‘The Burn Zone: A Memoir’ (She Writes Press, 2018). ‘Still on Fire’ is the sequel. Learn more about Renee by visiting https://reneelinnell.com and follow her on Instagram.