It’s taken me a while to get back to writing a new post, even as my mind and heart is preoccupied, my commitment to this blog writing demands that I not abandon it, to just write, no matter how imperfect. My apologies ahead of time for the pure introspection herein. Hopefully the fog will clear as summer sunshine creeps in.
Having become, these past couple weeks, caught up in anger, distress, blame, regret, frustration, in grief, and pain and loss, in railing against the seemingly unfairness and cruelty of this world, and the at times inhumane and impossible behaviour of human beings. Being, as always, preoccupied by this every day human condition of ours. Jon Kabat-Zinn, one of my teachers, speaks about the paradox of the only way to change anything, including ourselves or the world, is by getting out of our own way, by giving ourselves over and trusting in things exactly as they already are, without pursuing anything, especially the thinking mind. It’s taken me a while to begin anew this process of getting out of my own way, of trusting in things exactly as they already are, yet again.
To begin anew I have been this week pondering the nature of being lost. Grappling with this process of getting out of my own way, with the knowing of a mind that is caught up in the experience of loss and being lost. Grappling with how being lost scares and paralyses me, and inquiring deeply into exactly what it is about being lost that sets my usual sense of stability akilter. Grappling with the knowing of a lifetime’s experience of change, of living in countries engulfed in conflict, of a family history of war and loss imprinting a difficulty of adapting to being lost, to experiencing loss, to having no control, even as there is enormous capacity to manage the reality of change and loss. Grappling with how this year’s overarching theme has extensively been about being lost and experiencing loss, loss on relatively grand scale, as human lives go, too many to detail. And this week, after months of struggle, the devastating closure, as a consequence of fraud, of an organisation I have loved being a part of these past many years, a team I have grown and thrived with. A great loss, even as I know the work will continue, albeit within a different container, a loss not only to the organisation and its staff, but also to the many other organisations, families and children touched and supported by our work.
Other losses this past year even more personal, experienced by my daughter, loss of trusting in the normal expectation of teenage health, life’s dream and promise derailed for now, that has demanded a coming to terms with and an embracing of a daily process of a breaking of heart of sorts. Certainly a daily breaking of mine, as I confront not being able to fix any of it. Changes and loss so personal and intimate for self, family, relational, and work, that challenge and confront my perception of accepting being lost. Being at a loss. Experiencing loss. Even as I daily counsel families and parents through this very same process I experience intimately how this process is not something I can think myself out of, much as I certainly have tried. How the intimate experience of being lost and of loss demands of me to start anew again. Accepting that the only way through this, eventually, is to be still, to truly get out of my own way. To let go of everything I think I know and to give over to allowing, accepting, and trusting that being still, being here with life just as it is, is all that I can do. That even as I feel lost, life knows where I am and where to find me, and that the path keeps unfolding at my feet.
Being lost, and our perception of how this plays out for us in our lives, is a theme we work with early on in an MBSR course. Often using the instructions given to youth in American Indian tradition on finding their way through the woods, woods of many different kinds, as told by David Whyte in his book Heart Aroused.
Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
and you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers
I have made this place around you,
if you leave it you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to raven.
No two branches are the same to wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
you are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
where you are. You must let it find you.
So even as you may feel lost or are experiencing loss today, for a moment allow yourself to get out of your own way. Momentarily cease the attempt to think your way through this experience. Stop. Sit. Breathe. Be. Allow life to find you, just as it is, no matter how painful. Allowing the unfolding of life to be of its own time, may save this heart from breaking anew each moment of every day.
Sometimes when I pause, I hear the earth breathe… those were the first two lines of a song I wrote last week – and shared on my blog. Your entry here reminded me so much of those words, and in my mind, I was tempted to substitute “God” each time you wrote “life.” You can call “it” whatever you wish, but in my mind, there is One Presence that teaches us “unconditionality.” You wrote, ” Allow life to find you, just as it is, no matter how painful.” Yes, Life/God bless you… Life/God has found you… You are loved! 🙂
Heartbreakingly beautiful, even though details were left unsaid. This is heart-to-heart communication, a reminder that we can embrace all of life unconditionally.
Thanks Stephen. Unconditionality, like presence, is a daily practice. I often notice more when I struggle with it than when I “get it”