Letting Life Find Me
Recently, during a time when I felt jostled by life's rocky currents I reached out to someone for advice. I sought some semblance of perspective. Insight. Direction. After being at the receiving end of negative feedback I suspected it may not be the last time and although I had let that go, I was curious how others who traveled a path similar to mine handled the impact of others' judgment. I chose to reach out to someone whom I find to be an immense inspiration and teacher on the path of healing and to my surprise he offered a perspective I had not previously considered, although he spoke from experience and that held a lot of weight for me. I was very grateful for the insight, only - to my disdain - enveloped within his advice was a seed of introspect that caused me to question the way I was proceeding in my newfound path of writing, sharing, speaking out. I suddenly felt aimless and unsure of what I was doing. In a sense you could say I rather wanted to crawl under a rock and toss my ambitions to the wind.
You see, that's the thing about seeking advice; we're not always prepared for what we hear. In my case I took this person's advice to heart but forgot the importance of weighing that against my own inner sense. I underestimated the weight of my own perspective, failing to ask myself "How does his truth resonate with me?” It didn't seem to matter at the time; I felt the fire of own vision begin to dim and was saddened at the thought of quelling my writing path.
For much of my life I have looked to others to tell me what to do. For a long time my own life appeared in such shambles that I became unable to trust myself to steer the direction of my life, convinced I had failed and needed to find someone else to captain this ship before it splintered across rocky shores. I unconsciously grasped at teachers, parents, friends, lovers or mentors to show me the way; but what gets so easily forgotten in our search for a savior is that everyone is trying to steer their own ship and while they may be able to toss a life preserver overboard, ultimately its up to us to find our own way; its up to us to live authentically among the shores of a life that begs us to live it out loud with heart and with soul.
"We each have a particular way of shaping ourselves in the world. To take on someone else's conversational style and to keep repeating other people's questions as if they were our own is to exhaust ourselves. Read, listen and admire, but then go back and ask the question yourself, in your own way. Dare to disagree. Everything in the world is constantly coming to our door with clues as to how we belong. We only have to follow those clues and we will find our way home." ~ David Whyte
This person was trying to spare me a lot of stress that can potentially be sourced from "haters and doubters" when we choose a path less traveled; when we begin to question the way things have been done for so long, when we dare to seek a better way for ourselves and others who may be interested in seeking more sustainable options. He was trying to point out the magnitude of healing one's self and that its vital we reserve our energy, turn inward and tend to the healing at hand. This is powerful truth and essential for any healing journey. But what if finding my voice and speaking up was a very part of the healing process for me? What if I had been told to "be quiet" my entire life and had finally begun to find my own voice? What if after all these years I was finally ready to release years of resentment and the only way out was through allowing myself to be heard?
For many of us after we've been hurt or disappointed enough by life, we try to keep a low profile on life's radar. We unconsciously take a step back because life found us before and it hurt, or things didn't turn out as we'd hoped, or the struggle was just too much to bear - so we retreated and settled in to the folds along the edges of our life. We rooted ourselves in a comfortable routine and stopped taking chances in love, in work - in life. We opted to keep quiet rather than speak our truth, we opted to stay in rather than venture out; We resigned ourselves to a life of just getting the task done, coloring inside the lines, doing as we're told. If we can just manage to get the right work lined up and find the right beautiful partner and surround ourselves with just the right people, secure ourselves just the right insurance plan and don't rock the boat - keep the boss happy, keep the spouse happy - maybe we'll get through this life without any real messes to clean up. We keep working toward the goal of just getting Everything In line. But what we don't expect is that slowly the texture of our life begins to fade away and we're left with what now feels like empty shells of who we once were, or were beginning to grow toward. At least, that is what happened to me. I strived incessantly to just get my ducks in a row and I thought then things would really start to turn around for me at last. Until one day, life found me again. And I had a choice. I could remain in the folds of my life or I could surrender to being found. The well-known poet, David Whyte reminds us that we are not supposed to take our life - our destiny - on as a burden. We're supposed to feed our longings and desires for life. Early on in my healing I developed an insatiable pull toward being immersed in nature. So I fed my longing. I didn't question or analyze it, I just surrendered to my heart's calling; I listened. Each day found me walking, sitting or playing in nature and because I had responded to a deeper yearning, it truly fed my soul. I did not realize it at the time but I had begun to step in to conversation with life. When we begin to truly recognize the beauty and expanse of nature, it's not long before we are unable to remain immersed in our own small, sad story. Gradually the magnificence we witness in nature is mirrored back to us and we are then faced with the notion that if nature is okay just as it is, there is the beautiful possibility that we "fit exquisitely in the world as well". The more we say yes to those experiences that feed our soul the more we find ourselves "cultivating a relationship with silence and with the ever new self that can emerge out of that silence." (David Whyte)
Are we ready and willing to meet that self that emerges? The more we allow space in our lives for silence, the more we are participating in the conversation with life. Here we create a willingness to see our longings and desires and give them expression, give them voice and also to be guided in return through acknowledging what is communicated or mirrored back to us. Many of us don't even know what we want for ourselves in this world. We don't know where we belong, just that we want to belong more. We don't yet know our hearts calling, just that we want to be called. We want to feel alive more and we want to color outside the lines every now and then. After reflecting on the insightful counsel I had received, I graciously recognized the simple truth that I love to write and I did not want to quell my creative expression nor the sharing of my journey. Usually, there is no logical explanation to the endeavors that are called to expression in our lives, but we can learn to trust our own depth and simply carve out a space where they might be fertilized and nourished to grow and perhaps even become a guide toward our soul purpose in life.
My own journey has woken me up, stirred the pot, rocked the boat and rattled my cage. The door is open - in fact it was never locked - I simply chose not to open it. Sometimes the familiarity of our own suffering becomes a comfort in itself but that is no life. The truth is, bringing voice to those parts of me that were silenced is a gesture that speaks to the conversation - I am willing to be found by life. There is no solid ground to stand on and life will unexpectedly take us by the hand and lead us down roads never of our own choosing. But how we participate in that conversation makes all the difference in our lives and if we choose to stay awake through it all, there are immense blessings to be found. Perhaps just because we have done something the same way a thousand times with little success to show for it, maybe we can see this as a sign that its time to change the way we approach the matter?
In my own journey, I have found that carving out space for silence is where I've begun to acclimate myself to the ever changing tides of life. Its also the place to begin to clear away the soot of our accumulated fears, judgements and reactions so that we might tap in to direction and perspective. From here magic happens and we find ourselves part of a greater whole; ready and willing to be found by life once again.