I have been on a sojourn of sort these past many months getting ready to write a new book, which is why I have not been blogging. Ready meaning there was research, meditation which looks a lot like napping, journaling, getting Reiki with the brilliant Jessica, and generally speaking taking a walkabout. I think I am winding down but I am not sure about even that being true. You see most of this was and is fuzzy; as all off-road adventures are there is no map you work by the stars. Like other off-road adventures this had lots of uncertainty, fear, bad hair days, debate, tests of faith, physical, emotional and spiritual wounds abound. Now that this phase is over I am left waiting, not my strong suit as those who know me know. It is pure crazy making for someone who is a doer. Nonetheless I am doing my best, which is as Tom Robbins said, “All a person can do in this life is gather about him his integrity, his imagination, and his individuality – and with these ever with him, out front and in sharp focus, leap into the dance of experience.”
So here I am waiting, percolating over what is and how to proceed. The problem with that is this is not a problem for my intellect, not a strategy, not something to think through at all. Alas. Thinking is my first language; logic comes easy. My head, however tiny it may be is packed with tons of fascinating tidbits like a cocktail party at a pork belly convention. My brain being this self-involved entity, ergo ego, it is also a bossy Betty thinking it always knows best, first and always making bossy Betty a liar. She will rationalize with intellectual ease deftly turning light to dark, good to evil and transforming a 2 hour walk on the beach into a BLT on a donut.
Like most people, I learned to take my cues from my external environment. I listened to parents, teachers, friends, bosses, and lovers, as well as other varieties of gurus, preachers, yogis, politicians, the Kardashians, everyone except myself. I understand that what kept us alive as cavemen were our instincts, intuition, listening to our bodies and their response to fear, hunger, even curiosity. Listening kept us safe, fit and provided knowledge and growth, all natural states of wellness. Don’t get me wrong; logic, intellectual reasoning, and critical thinking helped us move forward without doubt. It is not however, the truest tool in our arsenal and we forget that. I know I do. When I am holding a fabulous hammer everything looks like a nail. I forget the power of looking within, getting quiet and listening to myself. True, the brain chatter is deafening almost always but with practice, discipline, compassion for myself in how much I suck at it and the skill it takes to herd hummingbirds I get to the stillness. In that stillness comes a knowing, a deep response to an internal signal to move forward, take action, begin to dance.
These dances start slowly almost always, ungainly and self-conscious of who is watching or am I doing it right but I try to bring my focus back to the feeling. Yes the “F” word–I am using it here damn it. I try to tune out the external, the other, and focus on the way things feel—not emotionally mind you but feel in my body. Sure my limbs are akimbo at first but soon melt in a herky-jerky fashion to something more fluid, real, and true. There is a surety of movement, a light of passion and finally joy. Joy simple and pure springs from within it is not found in the external it wells up from deep. It comes forth from our internal landscape and connection. In our alignment of mind, body and spirit and creates this crazy solid base of feeling at peace with what is no matter what is. I know, I know this is major airy-fairy shite going on here, but there is not a proper way to explain this in words. It is like trying to describe what orange looks like to someone who is blind. Words are inadequate and create a trite, cartoony facsimile of what is. That is why the Universe provided us with Art. To show not tell, this is the next iteration of that exercise to feel not think. Again I am not talking about our emotions but the reaction of our body to what is going on. It is our internal guidance system.
There are no written directions for this system, no big talk about it like puberty with models, picture books, or filmstrips. (Remember those?) No classes in school to help us to trust ourselves and go within for our answers. In fact school teaches just the opposite, but I won’t jump on that soap box right now as you will have to beat me bloody and tie me to the bumper of a Humvee to get me down. My lovely sister Chris and I were talking about trusting ourselves and she asked, “What does that look like?” She wanted me to give her a real example. Come on, we know people talk about it over hemp tea and gluten free scones but what does that really mean for the rest of us who eat fine pork products and drink single malt scotch? What it means is from my modicum of experience is this: when I am feeling stressed I look to the physical sensations that are happening in my body. For me my stomach is churning and my chest feels like an anvil with the word “Acme” printed on it is parked there. For you, it might feel like your shoulders have lurched up to your ears so you look a lot like Richard Nixon, or your jaw is clenched and so are your fists. It is the red zone, reactive and really scary. That means your body is saying, and has been saying for quite a while, in its most eloquent way. “This is not good; this does not feel good. Step away. Take a breath before you A.) Stroke out keeling over giving all those in the vicinity the view of your ill-fitting beige spanks; B.) Go all Kanye/Alec Baldwin on unsuspecting bambi-bystanders; C.) Withdraw creating an elaborate revenge scheme in your mind complete with dialog, sets, costume design, lighting, etc. to rival Les Misérables all the while slowly dying inside becoming a shell; D.) All the above.
The truth is my body was warning me long before the world got a view of me and my behavior that it has to wash out of its brain with a mix of Clorox and steel wool. At the trigger point, the point where things started to feel icky I needed to stop and take a breath and pay attention to what was off. What felt wrong, what did not match up with my expectations, beliefs, knowledge, or truth? That is the yellow zone, and that is where we want to make the catch, not in the orange and certainly not in the red. Hitting the red zone is awful and feels like we are out of control because we are. We are reacting instead of responding, big difference. Shiva the destroyer/transformer comes in and lays waste in our life in a very unflattering way. When we hit a maximum of being disconnected from ourselves, when our life and our choices are reflecting the needs/beliefs/visions of others above ourselves, the life we lead is a hot mess and so are we.
By standing at the wheel and waiting I am not not doing anything. I am listening, listening so closely that is hurts sometimes in the stillness. There is a cacophony of people around giving me direction, wanting something; there are others who know me well who are watching me closely like a Betty Crocker angel food cake trying to see if I am done. They know about waiting, they know about listening, they know about patience and sometimes hate it too. When the time comes there is no thinking it is this pulse of knowing, and then I don’t know why I didn’t see it or do it all along. Like the veil being lifted or a door opening where there once was a wall. It is automatic, organic and instantaneous it just happens and I am moving. The wind up is the nerve-wracking part where bossy Betty and all the other minions in my head are fretting, analyzing and wanting to put their rusty old gummy two cents in. Thanks but no thanks. I know that, like all good sojourns, this is temporary and soon enough I will be writing that book, making that trip, falling in love and filling in whatever that next blank is. I just have to trust in myself and keep listening all the while walking beaches, finding succulent dim sum, filling the bird feeder, taking naps and drinking that dark smoky single malt scotch. You see waiting does not mean I stop living, quite the opposite, it means I wait and live with passion, purpose and an open heart.