Moving Toward and Away

By JOHN BICKART, Ph.D | 20 Opportunities to Transform Yourself While Teaching/”Recovering Your Childhood in Adulthood” 

I was trying to move away from the whole problem of enabling with too much fun up front, then regaining structure and discipline when it is a little too late. And then I remembered Lisa Miller and her book, The Awakened Brain (2021). In it she says that there are two modes to go about life, achieving and awakened. Your achieving mode might tend to look at problems as something to get around. But awakened mode might look at those same problems as lessons. In awakened mode, you might look at a problem as presenting an existential question – a chance to change your existence – make a learning experience from something that is a little bit annoying to you. 

So, I want to read to you from her paragraph on integrating those two modes in what she calls “quest awareness” or “quest orientation”, which makes your life a journey. Listen to this.  “Quest orientation is characterized by a tendency to journey in life: to search for answers to meaningful personal decisions and big existential questions; to perceive doubt as positive; and to be open to change, or more accurately, open to perceiving with fresh eyes, and then using new experience to fuel change. In quest, we open ourselves to the messages from life, take seriously this discovery, and then actively use learning to shape our decisions and actions—our personal operating manual” (Miller, 2021, p. 169).

So, I got to thinking about this. You’re born to this life and at first, you think everything is good. You don’t move away from things. That’s why you can take candy from a baby. If a stranger walks up, the baby looks up and thinks everything is going to be great. Then life happens and you go to the school of hard knocks. So, bad things start to happen to you, and you start to fall. But, the game of life is getting back – recovering your childhood – the ability to see things as wonderful again. But how? They’re not wonderful. Well … in total freedom … you can have the choice to make life a quest – make life a journey! You can decide for yourself to look at the school of hard knocks and take the hard knocks – use them – learn from them – and say, “Thank you! Why did that just happen to me? Why am I like that? Why is this bad thing surrounding me? And what can do about it – what can I do with it? It must be that there is a lesson for life in here, somewhere!” And when you do that, you are recovering your childhood. And things start looking better and better. You can see life is good. 


John Bickart, Ph.D. likes to work in the background and let good ideas speak for themselves. He believes that children, and sometimes adults, know what they want and that they empower themselves when they listen to their hearts. He can be reached at