Practicing Belonging

5 weeks ago I arrived with my two children to Dar Es Salaam.
We were joining my husband here for 10 weeks. He has taken a new job here, and I with the children will spend half my time here for the next three years.

I am reminded of a plant that is transplanted.
And that needs extra care as its roots enter the new soil.
I did not consider this when I arrived. A part of me felt perhaps bad for leaving my village and my work behind – and so instead I got extra busy. How much more I would be able to accomplish from here, where I had no meetings, but just lots of glorious time.This was my thinking.

I landed and I got busy:
Fundraising proposals
Programme updates
Skype calls
Busy busy busyIMG_4699
When there was a little moment of space I filled it with more
I had a spectacular entry into learning how to bake sourdough bread
I baked and baked and baked until I had it down pat
and then I baked some more
rye bread
cinnamon rolls
whole wheat bread
raisin rolls

To say that there was a manic quality to my arrival in Tanzania would be an understatement
Shopping things for the home
Playing with the kids (downloading multiple waldorf home schooling books, to get that little details sorted while I was at it all 🙂
skyping, doing, baking

And then I woke many mornings in a row
and I wondered
what is going on?
Why can I no longer rouse myself?
My dance became slow and heavy
I kept baking, skyping, doing

And then I saw it,
From a conversation with a friend,
and then more fully the next morning
in the dance
the wound that all this was springing from:
A need to do,
A belief that I have to Do to be of value,
that I need to earn my room and board on planet earth

To simply stop, and land, and settle and arrive
feel the sand under my feet, the wind on my face, the sun on my shoulders
this would not do.
This would surely not do.

Of course the seeing of something like this
is the first step towards its losing its power
And so I made a commitment to myself to take five days off.
Five days of just being here.
The anxiety that the thought of five days of stillness induced
was another sign that something was way off
But I stopped.
I read Jane Austen (she had never made it into my reading list, and may never return, although it was a delightful little intermission)
I played with my children
I danced
We went to the beach
I journaled – though even this felt sometimes like too much effort
All in all I did nothing much that could be called by my mind
particularly productive or beneficial to something larger 🙂
And yet it was such a healing balm to me and perhaps my children also.

The days went, one and then the other
And the image of the transplanted plant came to me
and the feeling of my roots sinking in
and the gratitude for how quickly it was actually happening
once I allowed myself to be present to where I was

I danced a dance of Belonging.
I belong. I am loved.
Even when I am not Doing.
Doing has nothing to do with belonging.
Belonging has to do with belonging. Being here now.
And the manic doing is perhaps not so very pleasant
For anyone.

I am back in ‘work’
Still redefining what that means
Noticing what really fills me with joy
And what is being done from the wound
From the need to be a productive contributor to my community
From the need to be of value

Not that it is bad to want to give
But when it is coming from a fear of not belonging
(and here I speak of a more fundamental sense of belonging
To life, to the planet, to Pachamama),
It is not so healthy
When it is coming from love, delight of giving, joy of expressing my gifts,
It is a very different thing.

Dancing, moving, being,

Learning to simply be. Learning to simply Be
That that is not only enough.
That that is all I am ever required to do –
for right action flows from this place.
Beautiful, strong, inspired action
springs from this place.

I can still bake
I can still skype
I can still do
But I don’t have to.


Joseph dancing on the beach

Published by Maaianne Knuth

I am a woman with roots on two continents, Africa and Europe. I am passionate about supporting people in coming together in more authentic and life-affirming ways than what is the norm in most of our dominant systems. I am the co-founder of Kufunda Learning Village, a centre dedicated to working with rural Zimbabweans as they discover their wealth and wisdom, for themselves, but also for people everywhere. My journey and my passion is around learning to follow my own inner voice of wisdom, and in that finding joy and flow. That journey has brought me back to my essential nature as a Dancer. Through conscious dance I am finding my way into deeper relationship with myself and the world. I look forward to many more women rising to their power, especially in Zimbabwe, to help shift this beautiful country out of its stuck and painful place.

4 thoughts on “Practicing Belonging

  1. SPOT ON … altid det sværeste at slå bremsen i og bare være når man kaster sig ud i nye eventyr. Det har taget mig en del flytninger rundt om i verden at lære den simple gestus .. at være fremfor at gøre!! All held og lykke i Dar og med bare at være 🙂

  2. Hejsa Mette – hvor dejligt at hoere, at dette maaske er en impuls der haenger sammen med det nye. Og som sagt, saa dejligt at vaere blevet langt mere bevidst omkring det.

  3. The past few months of paring down, releasing, letting go and saying no – to work, to relationships, to patterns that no longer serve – creating space for…. I have yet to discover, it has yet to emerge.
    I know so well that urgency, compulsion to do to be of value. And to belong…to what, to whom, to where? To my Self.
    Thank you for writing, Marianne. May you and your family discover, make and take your places in this new land, in your new home.

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