I’m having a tough time right now, like everyone else. Yeah, I have had to cancel plans- fun and exciting plans, miss out on work and career opportunities and readjust what I thought was a quiet life into an even quieter one. All of those things sting. There’s a familiarness to that sting in that I have experienced all of those things before for a variety of other reasons. What’s not so familiar though, is how incredibly inundated I’m feeling amid my solitude.
I know everyone’s heart is in the right place. We’re trying to keep the forward momentum we’re all so used to having. We’re trying to make sure that we’re there for each other all while not losing sight of who we are. The things that define us have all suddenly been exposed as the fragile and fleeting notions that they really are. If we’re not doers, leaders, creators and innovators, what are we? Nevermind the more solid labels we wear as friends, lovers, partners, children, and every title we have worked our lives to earn in every arena that we’ve found meaning in. All of these solid, reliable structures might be even more flimsy than we feared and it’s beautiful that we can lean on each other at this time.
But, for me, there is still this sense of overwhelm.
In his essay, Besieged, David Whyte says, "In a human life there is no escape from commitment: retreat to a desert island and the lonely islander will draw up a Robinson Crusoe list to make the place habitable or begin building a raft to escape". So, here we all are, awash in a sea of lonely islanders all going about the work of doing one of those two things. And, I can’t help but feeling confronted by my own desire to do those exact same things. Especially since I know that I am not particularly served best by doing either one.
Don’t get me wrong, I would love nothing more than to spend the day at the beach napping on a towel surrounded by strangers I will never talk to only to spend my night in a crowded theater with even more elusive somebodies to enjoy the theater tickets I have missed out on. But, my days are more than habitable and filled with beauty and adventure, whimsy and opportunities for adventure. Life is a treasure to behold.
Yet, in that, with grace and truth present, I am struggling as I am left to my own devices in a rapidly shifting world. I’m struggling by the amount of spiritual advice we’re sharing on every social media platform and as we innovate to interact with people even more. I’m struggling with free counsel and information on how to combat all of our new woes or the old ones that are exacerbated by our new normal. Add to that, the political climate, the social inequities and sytemic injustice that have risen to the surface and mix in everyone wanting to share their process and stay connected- and I’m just-struggling.
Why? What is it that I need?
I keep taking those questions into prayer and meditation. And honestly, what I need is less. I keep thinking that cannot possibly be right. Less what? Less interaction? Less community? Less advice, less guidance, less sharing? Less demand for me to cultivate those things and share them with the world? Probably. Yes. Less.
There is so much to be found in the quiet and the silence. So many things that only take root in the way that roots do, under the surface and hidden from the sunlight. There doesn’t have to be a dark night of the soul brewing in order to allow the shrouded enchantments of life into our experience. And, often times, those enchantments evade words, evade sharing, and are destined to elude the inadequacies of human expression. It’s so interesting to think of how much of our lives have always and will continue to come into fruition in this exact same way but we’ve never noticed because we’ve been too busy with the business of living to look around and notice.
Of course, I notice the irony in that I am doing the exact opposite of what I’m saying that I need just by composing these words. Rest assured though, I continue to feel myself pulled towards the silence and the refuge of undoing. I know that this process invites me to the experience of un-doing so many of the things I was doing out of habit, out of places in me that were unhealed or even just places where I wasn’t stopping to look around and be aware.
Mr. Whyte goes on to invite his readers to begin each day with a "NOT to-do list; a moment outside of the time bound world in which it can be re-ordered and re-prioritized". I know that, for me, at this time these are the callings; to undo, reorder, re-prioritize, relearn and rejoice in all that this opportunity heeds. I may be silent. I may emerge every now and then to keep sharing. I will most definitely find out new things about myself and life and hopefully remember some awe-inspiring things that I have forgotten. I'm accepting the invitation to bear witness to the goings on of my life and my soul where all the real action is taking place- under the surface. And, I look forward to meeting with you all on the other side of this to share connection in our stories of this underworld.
Please do continue to reach out for support or prayer knowing that I am happy to do those things with great joy. e.e. cummings words of love and connection are always echoing for me as I think of my connections and support in life; "i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)."
My poetry loving soul has to end with a couple more quotes:
"I’m restless. Things are calling me away. My hair is being pulled by the stars again."
"I need to be silent for a while, worlds are forming in my heart."
Much love to you all,