A New Way Forward
Here, by the sea, as I gaze out into the mist and the endless shimmering blues and greys, I feel inspired by the possibilities of this life, they are endless. But it’s not that easy is it? So often we keep going down the same old paths. Stuck, in a maze, never quite making it around the next corner.
As you read this, try stepping into an imaginary maze. One that represents your own journey. Can you feel the juxtaposition of life, too? You turn right and just have this knowing that you’re on the path that will take you to the centre. It feels joyous. You feel elated. Yet a moment later, you make the wrong turn and find yourself back where you began. Those joyous feelings quickly turn to frustration and disappointment for what could be, what could have been. Is it fear? Or is it stubbornness that holds us back? Or are we just utterly blind to the possibilities of who and what we could be and what we could make of our lives if we just let go.
Are we afraid, and if so, what are we afraid of?
The dim murmur of a distant boat tracks through the depths of the sea and comes into view, reverberating under the bones of the house where I sit. It unsettles me, shaking the books and ornaments up on the shelf beside me. Shaking me up, too. And for some reason, it acts as a reminder of my responsibilities. All the things I feel I need to do. But ultimately I know that each one of those responsibilities is cleverly designed to distract me from understanding who I truly am.
We fill our lives with distractions to avoid connecting to ourselves and to each other. Never really feeling too deeply in case it hurts. Switch the radio on, make a call, look at the phone, find something to do. We are living our lives on the surface of the ocean, never brave enough to dive in. Too afraid to feel the joy, the pain, the vulnerability deep inside of us. Are we all much the same? Never allowing love to fully take us, envelop us, test us, throw us about. To feel. I mean, really feel.
A long time ago a wise man told me that the world was speeding up. He wrote an anonymous book about it called Vision. The book was written in 2006, but the true force of what he described really came into its own in 2012, the point which some said would mark the end of the world. Others call it the Age of Aquarius.
But it wasn’t the end.
It was just the end of one era and the beginning of something altogether new. He told me that this new era was like a series of waves coming. And if we held on to the old ways, it would be like standing on a beach, attempting to resist the waves that were heading right for us.
How many of you are still standing upright now, as those waves continue to hit? The financial crisis and subsequent austerity, the Arab Spring, #BlackLivesMatter, Brexit, US presidential elections, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, terrorist attacks, mass shootings, LGBTQ rights, the #MeToo movement, mass extinctions of species and soil degradation. Holding on so tight, in utter denial of what is really happening all around us and to our precious earth. We humans are duty bound to feel the full force and might of these events, these waves. Will you let them crash over you and get left behind as each wave carries on without you? Or will you go with it. Ease into the flow and see where the journey takes you, into the unknown.
Later, from afar, I watched the sea further down the coast on West Beach. Some waves hit hard against the concrete walls that were built to block the sea from engulfing the houses nearby. The crash was deafening as each wave hit the wall with full force and flared high up into the air, nowhere to go. Yet in another part, the defences are designed as a series of large rocks. Here, the waves still hit hard, but washed through and in-between the stones. And as a result, its power was greatly diminished, the impact far less.
Some days I get up early and write. It helps me to make sense of all the things in my head.
Getting caught up in all those thoughts going around and around, instead of looking up and seeing the beautiful ocean that’s right there in front of me. Until then, until I look up, I am going nowhere fast and instead of riding with the wave of life, I sit blocked in my resistance. Doing so prevents me from seeing all beauty and the love that surrounds us. We become clouded in a never-ending circle of emotional pain, re-living old wounds, from the womb to the grave, if we’re not careful. “What about me?” we scream inside our oh-so-crowded, self-centred minds.
As I contemplate this life, this adventure, I look down to my yoga mat. It’s calling me, inviting me to experience all the possibilities it offers. Like a magic carpet, it faces out to sea and boldly states ‘Carpe Diem’, seize the day. Last week after a twenty-minute practice, I took out a pack of angel cards and shuffled them hopefully. You may find that odd, a bit mad or silly perhaps? Yet there are days when I find it hard to calm my restless mind and I find it reassuring to reach out for some guidance. A kind of confirmation that I’m not getting it all entirely wrong. A way of connecting to myself and to my intuition – that voice which can so easily get drowned out amongst the noise of twenty-first century life. So, I take my cards out on days such as these, as a way of feeling that connection to myself once again.
I decide on my card and pull it out. It says ‘playfulness’ and brings with it an immediate smile and leap of faith. I read the write up on the card and smile more deeply. Today is an instruction from myself, to myself. To have fun, be childlike, smile, be joyful, to not hold back.
It has such a huge effect on my day, like a magic wand giving me permission to be myself again, to be playful and happy. Is that silly? Drawing angel cards may sound like nonsense to you, but we so often need someone or something else’s permission to be all of those things. Why do we need permission from others, or from a pack of cards? Why do we find it difficult to see the funny side of this mad, mad life? Or to feel the deep joy and adventure that life presents, to be more authentic, be kind, to connect more deeply with others in every interaction we have?
I’d like to re-live some of my days. The ones I’ve messed up. I’d like to re-play those ‘what about me?’ days, where I’ve stood, waiting for the sea to hit me like a stoic Angel of the North. If only I’d drawn the playfulness card on those days, too. Or drawn the card that reminded me to be more vulnerable and open. To notice the beautiful flower in my garden, in all the stages of its short life. I’d like to re-live those days where I never looked up and saw the beauty and the love that surrounded me.
But today is another day. And as I re-live those moments of loss, I’ll do things differently. I’ll put on my swimming costume and head out of this little house and into the sea waiting patiently for me at the end of the garden. I’ll dive playfully in amongst the swirl of early morning tides converging, discovering that if I am brave, if I let go and truly feel the full force of the wave rather than resist it, I can ride along with it. I can embrace, appreciate and harness the power as it washes over and through me. Alongside each other, the energy of human and nature will be in perfect flow, and I will find myself again, whole once more.