“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” – e. e. cummings
“Wisdom begins in wonder.” – Socrates
Coming off my first week of vacation this year, I am relaxed and settled. Away from obligations of nonstop meetings, other peoples’ (ridiculous) expectations coupled with my own set of “rules” made up of “shoulds” and “musts” with little consideration for why. Faster at the expense of better.
Wandering always leads back to wonder. And for the wonder to stick, we must “schedule” pockets of unscheduled time each day and not wait for the next vacation. We are bound by time but must unbind ourselves from doing more and more to quietly being, observing and witnessing. Gratitude ensues.
Consciously choose to live with and on purpose. Wander, listen, be present and allow wonder to re-enter and remain. Pursue light and cast it.
“Thought is the wind, knowledge the sail, and mankind the vessel.” – Augustus Hare
The morning sky broken open with rain, not leaving much hope for outdoor activity. And then it ceased but the clouds lingered into the afternoon. While not perfect, the pontoon will only be in the water a few weeks more, so we launched to capture one of the last rides of the season.
The lake was windy, offering the perfect invitation for sail boats to harness the wind. And many accepted the invitation. So we weaved around and watched them dance across the water with speed and grace.
The beauty of freedom with the art of holding the sail just right with the shifting winds. One of the sail boats missed a cue and fell over. Boats stopped to check and waited until they went upright. With just the right pull, the wet sails arose, ready to join the others in the pursuit of the wind again.
Soon the clouds dissipated, and blue sky broke through. What started as a rainy day transformed into a beautiful afternoon.
Our start is not where we finish. And when we join in even in less than perfect circumstances and patiently wait for things to unfold, we discover the joy in the wind and the surprise ending filled with blue.
Blue skies always are behind the clouds, eventually and always.
Poetry, music, a sunset all have the power to put everything in perspective slowly and then suddenly. Tune out the voices that produce no fruit. Focus on thoughts and activities that drive you on the journey to your purpose. For when we live out our purpose daily, we make the world a better place.
“One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
their bad advice —
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voice behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do —
determined to save
the only life that you could save.” – Mary Oliver, The Journey
“Silence is the pause in me when I am near to God.” – Arvo Part
When we slow down and allow silence to enter, our own voice in the quiet becomes louder. The noisey voices in your head that tell you to go faster, don’t try because it’s too hard, you’re not worthy or enough are not the real you at all. It’s fear.
When faced with the choice of stepping out of the boat and facing fear or giving up and staying safe, get out of the boat. Every time.
Anything that is of value and worthy of our time and effort will be met with resistance. Push through it with one step, and then the next. Try, make mistakes, get up, try again, repeat, succeed. Don’t let the empty voices from others or the chatter in your head ever stop you from becoming your best you.
Every day, weave quiet and contemplation in, if only for 10 minutes. Take a walk in the woods and witness a symphony of birds singing, wildflowers waving and beauty unfolding. Gaze into the sky with reverence.
And in that awe and quiet, you will hear your own voice calling you to your purpose, loud and clear. Listen and move. Imagine if we all pursued our purpose and used our talents. What a world it would be!
“People tend to burden themselves with so many choices. But, in the end, you can throw it all away and just make one basic, underlying decision: Do you want to be happy, or do you not want to be happy? It’s really that simple. Once you make that choice, your path through life becomes totally clear.”
― Michael A. Singer, The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself
“Only you can take inner freedom away from yourself, or give it to yourself. Nobody else can.”
― Michael A. Singer, The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself
If we only let the wind take us to where it will rather than trying to control it all. All of the pining and consternation won’t change our ending, but it sure ruins the journey. Let go of what others think and what you overthink. Be happy in this moment and then the next and the next one after that.
Life is gliding along whether you choose to participate fully or not. So join in.
Be awake in this moment only
Clear your mind of the past
Release concern of what is to come
Squander not your precious time in worry and regret
Embrace gratitude by opening your eyes, poking your senses
End this day filled with wonder and awe found in the gift of now
Remain in today
“There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar; I love not Man the less, but Nature more.” – Lord Byron
What is one less thing you can do? Not more, less.
What we say “no” to gets us to the richness of the “yes” things we long for and are called to do. I jam as much activity into a minute better than most and it merely fosters more activity. Yet that which I value most is not quantity of tasks but quality of moments of depth that comes from “single” tasking.
A long run, throwing the ball for the girls, writing, reading more than 3 pages in a book, prayer and reflection that leads to gratitude and grace, a walk in the woods, undivided attention and device free moments with family and friends. That’s my list. What’s yours?
And when we get to more “yes” things that matter, the other stuff that makes up our ridiculously long “to do” list gets done. And if they don’t then maybe those things shouldn’t be done in the first place. Add more quality to your days and your tasks by doing less so the things that you spend your precious and limited time on bring more joy and discovery to your days. Remove items from the list so you can fully participate in life rather than be a “productive” machine.
Add by subtracting. It’s the new math.
“When everything is moving and shifting, the only way to counteract chaos is stillness. When things feel extraordinary, strive for ordinary. When the surface is wavy, dive deeper for quieter waters.” – Kristin Armstrong
Growing up around lakes, we would pick up rocks and see how far we could skip them across the water. Finding flat shaped rocks and throwing side arm, the rock barely touching the surface. Distance over depth.
The demands of our “do more with less and do it as fast as you can” world is like having a bottomless mountain of rocks skimming for distance. And it’s a pretty hollow activity that produces little relevance and quality in our days.
We worry about machines taking over our jobs. I hope they do so we can stop producing like machines and creating like humans, as we are meant to do. We have so much more deeper down than we pursue. Those individuals who are creating to their full cognitive ability and capacity are those who go deeper, linger longer and have said “no thanks” to more with less.
I am in hot pursuit of less pursuit, of going deeper, lingering to allow my mind to absorb rather than process. Beauty is found in simplicity and depth. Every one of us has the same 24 hours to work with. We need to make different decisions, take different actions to get to a different place. Each day we need uninterrupted quiet time to pursue depth. Multi-tasking and frantically jumping from one thing to the next is skimming rocks. Slow down and tap into the depth of your being so you can discover who you are meant to be and what you are here to contribute to this world.
Less mindless production, more sweet fruit. Find your light and cast it.
“In this world of ours, every believer must be a spark of light, a center of love, a vivifying ferment for the mass; and it will be that all the more as, in the depths of his being, he lives in communion with God.” – Pope John XXIII
“You and I have been created for greater things. We have not been created to just pass through this life without aim. And that greater aim is to love and be loved. Give yourself fully to God, who will use you to accomplish great things on the condition that you believe much more in his love than in your weakness. Never think that a small action done to your neighbor is not worth much. It is not how much we do that is pleasing to God, but how much love we put into the doing.” – Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa is being canonized a saint today. We often think of saints as being super-human, perfect, without flaw. I was surprised to learn that for most of her life, with the exception of one month in 1958, she lived in spiritual darkness, feeling abandoned by God. Saint John of the Cross called this “the dark night of the soul.” We all go through dark nights of the soul, but to spend a life there and still love the way Mother Teresa did is stunning.
Saint Mother Teresa lived out unconditional love her entire life despite what she felt inside. She chose every day to enter deeply into a wounded world to love and heal others. Despite her spiritual turmoil that lasted for most of her life, she saw beauty and light in the world, serving God faithfully with an unfailing trust.
Each of us is called to pursue with vigor and resolve our own blooming, our best selves, our calling. Saint Mother Teresa is a wonderful model and inspiration to show us how to cast light regardless of what we are going through. Welcome to the communion of saints Mother Teresa.
“As long as we are persistence in our pursuit of our deepest destiny, we will continue to grow. We cannot choose the day or time when we will fully bloom. It happens in its own time.” – Denis Waitley
“No desire will ever be placed in you by the Holy Spirit unless He intends to fulfill it. So let your faith rise up and soar away to claim all the land you can discover.” – S.A. Keen
We have right within us what we need each day. It’s not off in far off places, other people or in the mythical “someday” we create in our heads. It’s within us, this very moment. We need only suspend our search and be found. Then we can move to what’s most important and written on our hearts. Then we can begin to live the life we were called to fulfill.
Uncover it and let your light shine.