In a recent meditation training I attended, our teacher kept asking us different versions of this question:
“How is life wanting to live you?”
I ate that question up and it made me squirm.
I loved the invitation of it – something larger flowing and carrying me, much like the river in the Rilke poem I love so much. I loved the feeling that I could give up the struggle to make things the way I want and relax wholly into how things are. I found such joyous peace doing that.
But it made me squirm – especially upon returning to my studio and the writing project that was waiting for me – because I fear going to sleep from my essential work of choosing my life. Because I know – at this stage in my life – being the shero of my own story is crucial. I must choose and take action daily on what I want, rather than waiting for someone to pick me, or for writing elves to write my book magically each night, or for tough decisions about what retreats and courses to offer next year to decide themselves.
And I know there is a way to let life live me while also choosing. To hold both. Yes and.
I glimpse this way of living, I feel it, and then I lose it. I don’t have the capacity (yet) to live from there all the time.
Another way of framing this is I am learning (slowly) to experience creative freedom rather than what I think creative freedom will get me.
To come freely to the page and put aside the need to know, the need to make the writing become something, while also holding the vision that I do want the tens of thousands of words I’ve written to coalesce into something useful and beautiful.
Long ago, my soul gave me clear direction in the form of my first book title, The Woman’s Comfort Book. The title came to me in a moment of great pain and true surrender, a loud thought bubble popping in from somewhere far wiser than my mind. I now tell myself that my life/my soul/my unconscious knew I needed to learn self-kindness and self-compassion – desperately – but also that I needed to form a creative identity in the world. So my marching orders came in the form of a creative project. I would learn how to both become my own beloved and how to have a creative writing and teaching career.
I needed to learn both, and I did.
The tricky bit came later – after the book became successful and after I wrote more books, started to speak and teach. That was when I began to confuse the creative impulse wanting to live me into my wholeness with what I thought I needed to do to continue to build my identity.
But that is okay! I truly believe we all have this core thing we are learning our whole lives and we circle it and dodge it again and again, and then we wake up (again) one morning laughing at ourselves, “I did it again!”
What I find so maddening and so thrilling about the spiritual/creative life is that you know and at the same very instance, you don’t know. You see your pattern and it still has you. Fascinating and totally crazy making! It’s like an itch you can’t quite reach – and sometimes aren’t sure you want to.
Here is what I am learning, almost every minute of every day:
to let life live me while staying awake and being at choice.
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I can feel it working me, teaching me, and I can feel myself resisting it… and then welcoming that… and then forgetting…then remembering again.
That’s all I know and clearly much more that I don’t.
Thanks for reading this.