Friday, April 24, 2020

A Simpler Life

I’ve been sitting with a growing feeling. My beloved, enthusiastic nutritionist gave a lesson in growing micro greens yesterday. I have the image of this feeling sprouting and spreading much like those micro greens will if I ever get around to planting them. I know what’s growing and it feels wrong to admit it. It is a fear of this time ending. Who wouldn’t want a pandemic to end? Of course I do because I don’t want to see any more suffering or dying, or our economy in shambles. But, there is this other side of me that has some dread about life retuning to the way it was. I think to myself, my gosh Jean, how bad was it? I used to feel a similar dread when I lived in the city and we would go to the country for a retreat. On the last day I would cry not wanting to return to the life I had. It wasn’t that I didn’t like my life either! Then it was a mixture of the pace of city life, pressure to produce, and the lack of nature that I didn’t want to return to. What is this dread now? It has something important for me to know. It’s telling me that it’s time to pay attention. As much as I am resisting leaning into what is there, I must. The hesitation is that it will ask something of me that will scare me. That’s what dread is, isn’t it? It will ask me to take a risk or to step up in a way that frightens me. It’s almost easier to stay in the dread than to see clearly what is being laid at my feet. Once I look, the path will be cleared before me and I will have no choice but to follow it. Of course I do have a choice, but I know myself well enough to say that if there is an opening I will have to see where it leads, scary or not.

What do I not want to return to? The busyness. The running around. The setting up of everything. So much setting up!  The effort. In these pandemic weeks of lockdown, I don’t feel as though I am working less. In fact, my work feels more involved, more challenging. But there is a simplicity to the way it is right now - the way life is right now that I am deeply appreciating. Simplicity. As I typed the word, it resonated through me. Yes, it is simplicity I am wanting to hold on to. Maybe wording it in the affirmative rather than the negative would be more useful…not focusing on the dread, but what I am drawn to. A simpler life. 

Outside of lockdown, what makes this a simpler life? Grocery shopping only once a week for starters. That’s easy enough. Small in actuality, but huge in its impact. Working from home. Who knew I would like it so much? No rooms to set up, no big transitions to make, no place to drive to. More spaciousness in the day. Having more meals as a family. I love making the kids warm lunches and having them sit at the table to eat, all of us taking a break from our work. Seeing people walking and knowing people are in their homes. Less honking horns and speeding cars down our residential streets. More quiet. Less pressure to do, to be, to get somewhere, to move ahead. We have no where to go right now and what a relief that is. A simpler life indeed.

So I think to myself, how do I maintain simplicity post-pandemic? The grocery shopping shift is easy enough, but the rest? That I am not so sure. It feels like a bigger shift is in the works, one I can’t yet imagine. So many things I could never have imagined have happened in my life. I need to remember that. Then, I need to get some clarity over what I really want my life to look like, unabashedly admit to what I truly desire, which feels different than it did back in January when I wrote my yearly intentions. Everything has changed. Can I say what I want in this new place and not hold back from it because I “don’t deserve it” or because I am “not good enough” to do it, or because of financial fear. I do trust that if the changes I make come from a good motivation; if they bring more goodness to the world, then they are possible. They need to be honored. 

What has this time inspired in you? By the time it is over we will have gone through a process.  It will be different for all of us depending on what we witnessed, what we were asked to let go of, what we made of it, how we grieved, what we learned. We can return to life as it was - just move on with business as usual, which might be good enough. Or, we can lean in to this place that is not the same and invite ourselves to meet what is here with an open, courageous, loving heart and be curious what the universe is asking of us all now.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Circling Back Around

It has been a while since I have blogged or blogged steadily. A conversation with a dear friend on a recent morning reminded me of a post I wrote 7 years ago. I went back, read it, and heard the very thing I needed to hear. After that post, I looked at another and another from years past. Besides getting the message I needed, what also struck me was the judgement that I can’t write like that anymore. “You’ve lost it” is what she says. “Maybe I have,” I say. But, there was something so fulfilling about reading those posts that even if, now, I can’t write so articulately, with such intentionality, my will has been fired up. She is determined to make a go of it. It feels, suddenly, necessary.

I wrote then because I had to. It was life or death at the time. It kept me alive and not just alive, but growing and moving in ways I didn’t even know. Maybe I am at that point again. Not life or death, at all, but maybe I am, once again, at a place of growing into knowing myself. Maybe the words that need to be said will come again. What I can see, in how I used to write, is the very thing I was speaking about in Sunday night meditation. That in “naming” what was alive in me at the time, I got some space from it and could see more clearly what was there. I could make explicit what I knew about it, what was true for me. I could make sense of it. I never thought about it before, but writing can be another another tool of mindfulness.

I am in new place, yet certain themes circle around, like the planets around the sun. “Yup, this one’s back…” There is that annoying saying that we get presented with the same life lesson until we learn from it. It circles around and around, not at a dizzying speed because each visit needs time to digest. But come around…it will. This is what I am getting to understand…each time it comes, it is different. A little less painful (emphasis on “liitle”). A little more interesting. Just as perplexing. Of course it is. It’s perplexing because we are exploring another aspect of it, another nook and cranny we didn’t know was even there. That’s exciting, really. Another opportunity. Why else are we here if we are not learning and growing more into who we really are and sharing from this place, from our true selves - even if the whole process is painful.

A pandemic will set into motion all kinds of ripples. Waves more likely. I am letting it move me. Do we have any choice? I suppose I could drop the anchors and try to stay in place, but how dull would that be? Besides, my ship will only get battered and no distance will have been made. Why not let my ship get battered, but arrive somewhere new?

“Here we go,” I say to myself. Write I will. See you soon.