I had a conversation with an old friend yesterday. We have been out of touch for a long time, and reconnecting after years was sweet and surprising. We realized that we are both – though of course the same – also very very different today. It is like something quite fundamental has shifted, and something quite elemental is going on inside us. A deepening, an awakening, a quickening. I don’t know what words to put on it. It is an experience of a fuller, a more vibrant and yet also quiet experience of life all at once. Perhaps it is simply – getting to know ourselves more fully – in connection with all of life. Not in isolation.
It seems that many of those around us are in similar places, with similar experiences. They are not all sweet. Some are painful, of waking up to being well and truly lost. But to be found, we must first be lost. So it is a good place to be. To be healed, the alcoholic must first acknowledge that he has a problem. To wake, requires to realize and acknowledge we were fast asleep. How many problems in this world would shift if more of us would wake to the possibility that we are lost. That we don’t know the way home.
As I write I can feel the sun on my face as it is entering my office, from across the fields, through the trees, the window, and onto my cheek. Caressing me, this morning. How can I not feel loved in a moment like this?
We wondered together, yesterday in our conversation, about our work in the world. We shared in particular moments of vitality and flow, those moments where we experience how it is when everything is in flow, when life is in harmony. When the mundane falls away – although for someone looking in, what we are up to might look mundane. Moments of play with the children, or deep connection as a group of friends jam together, song, dance, instruments, spirit all mingle to create pure magic. “This is it – this is the real thing!” we find ourselves thinking with surprise and excitement. And then everything else that our lives are made up of lands on top of it, and clutters, and gets in the way of staying open to this moment, and the flow that is and exists all around and through us; the flow that we shut off from, more often than not in our busy pre-occupied lives.
It was our sense that during this time, more of the people we know are accessing those experiences. And as I sit here this morning, and as I went to bed last night, and looked up at the starry skies, I realized that in a way my present experience is one of being called. And let us not worry so much about who is doing the calling. Sometimes as we try to be pragmatic about these things, we kill them, and shut them down.
So without going into too much analysis I can simply say that in the last few months I have been called into being more of who I am. I am being called into being me. It is quite a glorious place to be. At home in myself. At least for moments – and more and more of them.
I know what it is like to not be able to be myself. To have landed in a place where I feel that who I am is not appropriate. And then to begin to censor myself….. It is a lonely and painful place to be. So what a joy to begin to notice this beckoning to become more of me, and to dare to follow it.
I am being called into the forest. Quite literally through a longing and desire to spend more time with the trees, just as I am being called to work with the land, to put my hands in the soil, and to be part of nature as together we grow something here, in my garden.
I am being called to move my body – to dance! To play with meditative movement.
I am called back to sit on my cushion each morning, after years of young children distracting me from that basic practice.
I am called to write.
And to connect to people from that place of knowing that each one of us is a miracle to be discovered. In that perhaps we can remind each other of this, as we so often forget it. Many of us have never believed it. How then can we live our lives as though this were true?
I recognize how incredible my life will be if I learn to heed my calls. Not easy, not comfortable, not problem-free. No. But it will be Incredible. Joyful. Challenging. Gritty. Magical.
Being called and responding to the call are of course two different things.
If we never show up – our call will diminish, and eventually we won’t hear it anymore. I speak again from experience.
But if we begin to heed it, tentatively at first (you want me to leave my job?), increasingly more courageously, and then it becomes an intuitive muscle, that we hear much more clearly, and can begin to follow much more easily.
Perhaps I am no longer speaking entirely from experience, although I do have a sense that my listening, my intuitive sense of what I need, is growing stronger. It has not yet become easy to simply follow it. Old habits, and past lives get in the way. Time. Ideas about what I should be doing with my time, keep me from walking into the forest when I feel the need. I know deep down that good things would come from being out there more. From listening to what my deeper self knows to be good and true and nourishing – whatever that might be.
The more nourished, and clear and alive I am – the more I can offer my light and joy to others.
We wondered in our call yesterday, whether it is enough, at this time, to practice simply being more fully human? Whether it is enough, in the words of my friend, to bring to every encounter our full presence and balance? What if that alone were enough?
We recognized that one of the deeper shifts that has occurred between now and ten years ago is that we no longer believe that at an essential level we are going to change anything. It’s not like we are going to fundamentally change the world :). That doesn’t mean we don’t work for the kinds of changes we long for in our world. We do, every day we do. But we don’t work fuelled by a need for outcomes. Suffering and challenge is a part of the human condition. We may solve one challenge and bring on another. Or we may not even solve one, and still bring on another. Of course the possibility exists, that we may rise to another level of consciousness and have a much different global order, in which much of what is today will no longer be acceptable, and yet even in that, we will have other challenges. So – it is not to say let us not strive for our dreams, especially those that come knocking through the window of our soul. By all means – But let us not become so caught by them that we kill ourselves in the process.
The world we are looking for, begins right here, with us. It is not a fixed destination that we are driving towards. In line with the work of Christopher Alexander, the quality of each step that we take today, will determine what actually unfolds. His work through the physical realm, has uncovered the basic building blocks of what he calls Wholeness, which holds a quality of aliveness inherent in it. Wholeness – and thus aliveness – must be present in each step of the design and process of forward movement, for it to be present in the final product (or building as is the work of Alexander). Wholeness cannot be in what we create, if it is not in the process of creation. Thus the future is not divorced from the present, the end cannot justify the means, if it is not carried out in the same spirit of that which we are seeking. As we dive whole-heartedly into our change initiatives, many of them are characterized by an absence of wholeness, an absence of balance, and an absence of sustainable vibrant aliveness. How then can we create that which we long for – if we are not learning to live it today?
Learning to live it today.
Fundamental building blocks – in my words now, not Alexander’s – are how we show up in our world, our presence; the quality of our engagement with others, and out of that the quality of what we can create with them.
In this I recognize that time in the forest, and in the garden, in making or enjoying music, or playing with my children, must be an integral part of the journey – for that is a part of the world I long for. One in which all of me can show up. I can no longer wait for the rest of my world or context to live and breathe this way. I can begin now in how I allow myself to inhabit my world . And thankfully there is a part of me, a wild and wonderful part, that knows this intrinsically, and is beckoning, calling, drawing me into a richer world. A fuller world. A fuller me.
May you join me. May you join us.