4 September 2015
I hope you’ll discover, as I have, that it’s not what lands you in the dark woods that defines you, but what you do to make it out.
– Joseph Luzzi, In a Dark Wood
Last night I sat in the dark on our back deck and watched the moon rise up above the hills, gleaming through the oak trees and then ascending above them to hang, dazzling bright and fully exposed, in open sky.
It’s ebbing. The fat round globe of last weekend has a big nip out of the leading side now. Only because she’s so familiar to me, I could still vision what I see instead of the man on the moon—the woman sitting at her dressing table, the breeze blowing her hair out behind her as she looks into her mirror.
Ebb and flow. Like tides. Like breath.
Once upon a time I believed that I’d reach a steady state of success, happiness, marital bliss, having-my-act-together-ness. I thought that if I worked hard and followed the rules enough, I’d be able to reshape world politics, create peace and harmony, and live in something roughly resembling Shangri-La. Really.
Where do these ideas come from?
The real rules are that in us and around us is a dynamic, ever-changing kaleidoscope of events and thoughts. My vision of some stable, steady, secure place denied reality.
I feel fortunate in my marriage, my friends and community, the opportunity to create and reflect. I have ‘arrived’ in many ways, yet life is not perfect and I’m not always happy. I’m exploring satisfaction here not because I think it is less than, or easier than, happiness, but because I think it is larger. Because I think it contains a fuller recognition of life and a greater encouragement of full engagement. I think satisfaction envelops joy and grief, growing pains and victory marches, mundane moments and peak events; the warp and the woof of our real lives.
Looking back over these four months, I see the outlines of that treasure map. Its crooked, slender trails may not always lead out of the forest in the most direct way, but they can bolster our hearts to be courageous through the thickest, scariest parts.
Part of using that map to get where we hope to go is questioning our expectations. Deciding if they’re reasonable. If they even still fit us. If they’re helpful. And, if not— adjusting them. Which initially can feel like we’ve given up on something, like bits have been torn from our map. Or like we’re lost—off the edge of our map.
Shangri-La is no longer on my map. This is part of accepting life as it is—a powerful, transformative ceaseless wheel of change.
But in the middle of that wheel, I think we can create a hub. With moments of mindfulness. With appreciation for the love we feel. With awareness of the values we hold and our ability to sometimes live in accordance with them.
Soak up a big breath. Savor the goodness of who you are. See that you, mind, body and heart, are on an amazing path.