This year was a slog! I must have changed my word, I don’t know, 10 times? Researched each new word, found quotes and images that pleased me, only to realize that the WORD did not please me!
It was incredibly frustrating. I couldn’t figure it out, I questioned every word I thought of. There were a myriad of reasons I would discard a word; too big, too trite, that one’s ridiculous!, how can I do THAT?, but really? None resonated with me.
It was particularly frustrating because, as I have said, I think that the word chooses you in a way, just as it works you. But I wasn’t having it, I was trying to push and prod a word into submission; you shall be MY word, or die (cue evil laughter)! This process was, for me, beginning to be the antithesis of what it was meant to be, and it was pissing me off.
Then, today, BAM! I was reading some poetry and found:
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 come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.
And this poem woke something in me, particularly the word “baffled”. Because I am.
I am baffled by a lot of things, but particularly by my own self. Why do I behave the way I do? Why do I hold so tight to the stories I have told myself all these years? Why do I have the particular “character defects” that I have, and the assets; where do they come from? Have I come to that point of no longer knowing what to do or which way to go, as Berry says? In many ways I think I have, and so this poem resonated, loudly.
And then there was another….
We look with uncertainty
beyond the old choices for
to a softer, more permeable aliveness
which is every moment
at the brink of death;
for something new is being born in us
if we but let it.
We stand at a new doorway,
awaiting that which comes…
daring to be human creatures,
vulnerable to the beauty of existence.
Learning to love.
A “softer, more permeable aliveness”….lovely, I want that. What are the questions that will get me there? How can I be vulnerable enough to “the beauty of existence. Learning to love”? What is holding me back from these leaps, because god knows they are leaps and huge ones.
And one more (poetry heavy post here):
if you move carefully
through the forest,
like the ones
in the old stories,
who could cross
a shimmering bed of leaves
without a sound,
to a place
whose only task
is to trouble you
but frightening requests,
conceived out of nowhere
but in this place
beginning to lead everywhere.
Requests to stop what
you are doing right now,
to stop what you
while you do it,
that can make
that have patiently
waited for you,
that have no right
to go away.
“Questions that can make or unmake a life”? Powerful. And “the old stories”, which I co-opted to remind me of my own old stories.
You know, in my grief work we are taught to ask the right questions, a little along the idea of “do the next right thing”, we are trained to ask the next right question that will bring the person deeper and deeper into their grief and understanding of it. I have always just accepted that as a call to be curious, to simply ask what I am curious about. If I keep that focus the work is successful.
I need to aim that curiosity squarely at my own self and start asking myself the right questions.
There is a sanskrit word, Prajna (or transcendent wisdom). It means cultivating an open, inquiring mind. I think I have a pretty open mind, but inquiring? not so much. Too often I just accept ideas, or things out of laziness, or feeling helpless in the face of them. My own things in particular, those stories. I am old. I am not tech savvy. I can never really teach yoga. I procrastinate. I don’t understand budgets and finances. I have to move someplace other than here to live. I am incapable of having a relationship and don’t want one anyway. I can’t change.
I know the last one isn’t true,I am constantly changing. So why hold on to that, what does it get me? I am curious, what’s the payoff here with my death grip on all of these ideas?
I think curiosity asks us to be a mixture of vulnerable and brave; brave enough to begin asking the questions, and vulnerable enough to take them deeper, get to the core beliefs that rule our (MY) life and make some changes.
Here’s another poem (I can’t resist Mary Oliver, you know that!)
When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse
to buy me, and snaps his purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox;
when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,
I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering;
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?
And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,
and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,
and each name a comfortable music in the mouth
tending as all music does, toward silence,
and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.
When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was a bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened
or full of argument.
I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.
~ Mary Oliver ~
It’s almost 2am and I was hoping to leave this post with something fabulous or meaningful to anyone but myself. But that’s not what this post is about.
This post is about my word for the YEAR; there is a full year to explore it further, right?
And so I say goodnight, and welcome to my CURIOUS year!