All the “not readies,” all the “I need time,” are understandable, but only for a short while. The truth is that there is never a “completely ready,” there is never a really “right time.”
As with any descent to the unconscious, there comes a time when one simply hopes for the best, pinches one’s nose, and jumps into the abyss. If this were not so, we would not have needed to create the words heroine, hero, or courage.
~Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype
“Soul” is found in the quality of what I am doing. If my activities have a sense of truth and integrity, if they are deep in meaning, then they are rich in soul, and so am I. Thus, for me, “nourishing the soul” means making sure I attend to those things that give my life richness and depth of meaning.
~Robert Fulghum, “Pay Attention” (essay in Handbook for the Soul, Eds. Richard Carlson & Benjamin Shield)
Some periods of our growth are so confusing that we don’t even recognize that growth is happening. We may feel hostile or angry or weepy and hysterical, or we may feel depressed. It would never occur to us, unless we stumbled on a book or a person who explained to us, that we were in fact in the process of change, of actually becoming larger, spiritually, than we were before. Whenever we grow, we tend to feel it, as a young seed must feel the weight and inertia of the earth as it seeks to break out of its shell on its way to becoming a plant. Often the feeling is anything but pleasant. But what is most unpleasant is the not knowing what is happening. Those long periods when something inside ourselves seems to be waiting, holding its breath, unsure about what the next step should be, eventually become the periods we wait for, for it is in those periods that we realize that we are being prepared for the next phase of our life and that, in all probability, a new level of the personality is about to be revealed.
~Alice Walker, Living By The Word
How do we respond to the tide of experience that sweeps into our ordinary lives? Do we respond to the unknown by being absent or being present? Do we hoard or give? Do we circumvent the truth or move through the truth? Do we withdraw and hide or stand in the open and seek connection? Do we view difficulty and suffering as isolating obstacles that exploit our weakness and stall our progress in life? Or do we view these incidents as transforming waves of experience that are part of an ongoing emergence of who we are? Do we believe that life is a pulling-apart we must survive or a constant rearrangement and putting together that we must surrender to? Do we run toward or from the bareness of being?
~Mark Nepo, Seven Thousand Ways to Listen: Staying Close to What is Sacred
Dear Ones –
The other night at my event in St Paul, a young woman asked me about how I achieve balance in my life.
First of all, I love that she thinks I have achieved balance in my life!
Secondly, I felt the need to speak out once more against the subtle tyranny of the word BALANCE, which I think haunts and punishes modern women more and more every day.
We are constantly being told that we should be achieving balance — that we should somehow exquisitely be negotiating the relationships between our work lives, our home lives, our romantic lives, our health and well-being, our spiritual selves. You can’t read an interview with a famous woman these days that the journalist does not applaud her for having achieved BALANCE….and then if you turn the pages of that magazine, you will find ten more articles showing how you can achieve balance. too!
Be careful. Continue reading
It may be that when we no longer know what to do,
we have come to our real work;
and that when we no longer know which way to go,
we have begun our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that rings.
There is no doubt that solitude is a challenge and to maintain balance within it a precarious business. But I must not forget that, for me, being with people or even with one beloved person for any length of time without solitude is even worse. I lose my center. I feel dispersed, scattered, in pieces. I must have time alone in which to mull over my encounter, and to extract its juice, its essence, to understand what has really happened to me as a consequence of it.
~May Sarton, Journal of a Solitude
I figured out while I was still in my twenties that when I spent a fair amount of time around other people, I then had to spend some time by myself to recharge. At the time, I never would have called myself an introvert. After all, I liked being around other people. I was a performer. I choreographed and taught dance. I went out disco-dancing with friends till the wee hours of the morning.
Back then, the generally accepted image of an introvert was a painfully shy person who could barely look you in the eye or have a conversation and would rather stay home and read than be around other people. (They certainly wouldn’t be comfortable getting up in front of people to perform!) Nowadays, however, introverts and extroverts are a little better understood, and I’ve come to realize that, although there are people who would be surprised to hear me say so, I’m a classic introvert.
There are a lot of articles out there these days about introverts and extroverts. You can take any number of quizzes to see which you are. One article I read a few months ago observed (correctly) that it ultimately comes down to energy: introverts give or expend energy when they’re around other people, and extroverts receive or absorb energy when they’re around people. This is why introverts feel drained when they’re around other people for too long without some alone time to refuel and recharge.
“I lose my center. I feel dispersed, scattered, in pieces.” Continue reading
. . . Can we hear the sound of light being folded in a river passing under a bridge? . . . Can we listen for truth like music to come out of silence and return to silence? . . . Can we listen in the way a cloud receives light and lets it through? . . .
~Mark Nepo, Seven Thousand Ways to Listen
By being what we are…by attaining our own yearning to the lonely holiness in this world, we will aid humanity more than by any particular service we may render.
The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.