“Wisdom is the art of living in rhythm with your soul, your life, the devine.” Fr. John O’Donohue
As I mentioned last time, I took a detour from ‘harvesting’ to write about the events of the past several weeks. This time, I stood at the crossroads of whether to continue to write about justice or return to harvesting. I chose to return to harvesting with an understanding that I am also building experiences related to what is occurring in our world relative to justice.
When I finished my piece on “We hold these truths to be self-evident…” it came to mind why I write. I write for me primarily. Often, I am thinking through an issue or a concept. I am seeking clarity for me. I began to share with you, and others, eight years ago because some of my closest friends indicated they found value in my writing. I am humbled and thankful.
The ‘justice’ piece was very personal for me. It also felt ‘risky.’ “What if you put something out there that is offensive to someone?” I concluded that whatever the reception, it was a story/experience that I needed to write for me. To get clarity about how I felt, what I believed. Some of you expressed appreciation that I did write it. No one expressed being offended. I am thankful for that. That story and experience is incubating. “We can’t stay here. What do we do next?” My guess is that some of you, if not many, are incubating similar thoughts. You are not alone. Keep reflecting on the question. Each of us has some role to play in changing our world.
Do your best and be well…
Harvesting – Part two
For the past few years, I have noticed an increased ‘stillness’ to my life. When I first left my work at Mutual with 150 people, that ‘stillness’ felt more like ‘loneliness’ and loss of purpose. It wasn’t. It was transition. I was moving to a new phase of my career. That career still exists today, but the pace has intentionally slowed. Even with all there is ‘to do’ there is additional time for me to be present in the moment, to be ‘still.’ I love how Fr. O’Donohue describes it. “A new quietness settles on the outer frame of your active life, on the work that you have done, the family you have raised, and the role that you have played.” As O’Donohue also says that this new place of solitude can be a ‘frightening’ aspect of growing older.
A number of people I coach, or have coached, come from places (lives) that are full of ‘busyness’. Some of these are natural (i.e., children, job, pursuing additional training or certifications, relationships, outside interests, older parents, etc.). Some are demands that we didn’t say ‘yes’ to, but we didn’t say ‘no’ to and so our answer became yes. Sometimes, we develop the ‘habit’ of being busy so we don’t have to think too hard or long about whether or not all the ‘busyness’ in our lives is getting us what we want. We become awful at taking care of ourselves, often in the midst of taking care of others in our life.
I’ve written and taught a lot about ‘self-care’, encouraging people to do a better job so that we/they can truly enjoy what is going on in real time. Being ‘present’ to the moments that are vital to savoring life.
So why don’t we? The increased interest in fitness, mindfulness, weight management, smoking cessation, meditation, yoga would seem to suggest that maybe we are more interested; or more interested in finding something other than our busyness. We seek change when what we are doing isn’t getting us what we want. I appreciate that a new quietness settles on the outer frame of my active life’ tends to create more ‘space’ (solitude). I submit, this is not only the purview of those of us in the ‘autumn’ portion of our lives, it is more a matter of that which occupied so much of our time is now gone.
We could, if we choose before we are in the autumn of life, build solitude into our lives. It may have to be proportionate to the demands of our lives, but it is a choice we can make. I would particularly suggest it for our youth, as a formative practice (there is not necessarily a perfect age, but 12 could be a good place to start). A practice where they get to know who they are and explore the ‘questions of life’ – Why am I here? What is it that I’m here to do? What are my gifts? What do I enjoy doing? What do I value? A consistent time of solitude helps build a relationship with ourselves. The ‘knowing’ of ones’ self helps us navigate the challenges of life and making more of the choices that honor who we are.
“Wisdom is the way that you learn to decipher the unknown; and the unknown is our closest companion. So wisdom is the art of being courageous and generous with the unknown, of being able to decipher and recognize its treasures.” (Anam Cara, pg.194)
In many cultures the old were revered because of their wisdom. They had lived long enough to accumulate a lot of knowledge and experiences that they integrated into how to make better choices. As the Boomers continue to leave the work force, more companies are learning how to integrate them in a way that creates greater unity with the history of the organization (how we did things and why) and engaging them in questions of what may be better ways to change to create a more vibrant, competitive company.
When I was in the Spring and Summer of my life/career, I would likely have questioned the value of older people. My grandparents and most of my aunts and uncles lived four hours away. They were important to me but were not as integrated in my life, as I am with my grandchildren. I gained valuable lessons but could have gained so much more. Compared to many cultures, we did/do not revere our old for their history, knowledge, and wisdom. Part of my ‘wisdom’ today is to ‘invite you to consider’ rather than ‘tell’ you what you must do or think. Part of this transition for me came from a desire to be a ‘gentler’ presence upon the world. It remains a goal for my evolution.
Do you have ‘regrets’ in your life? Burdens that you carry? What do you need in order to let go of those burdens? Sometimes the weight of our past can cast a pal over what we are doing and feeling in the present – when I am hurt, when I hurt, what I failed to do, what I did do. Depending on where we reside from when the regret occurred can have a large influence on how we view it. Some will say, “I just can’t_______ (forgive, get over it, be forgiven).” Some will lock whatever it is away and note it as “My burden to carry.” Where we are with that journey with our past can affect much of what is occurring in our current life because there is energy being syphoned off maintaining ‘our position’ with the event/person.
Autumn has a way of giving us perspective that allows us, permits us, to move to a different place with our regrets if we choose. I realize that sometimes there can’t be ‘moving’ of me until I am ready. That ‘readiness’ relates to our perspective. As part of that process I ask myself, “What do I need in order to change my perspective.” Sometimes, I don’t know. Sometimes that not knowing becomes a prayer. The wisdom? That things will change. They change a little faster when we seek to unburden ourselves of regret. To understand that there is no value in that regret, and often, if it involves another person, that other person wants you to let go, to stop investing energy maintaining something that is of no value. Sometimes, the environment becomes ripe for asking for forgiveness, or for forgiving.
So, my harvesting over the last few weeks has involved many experiences of my past. Some I have stopped and lingered with for awhile. One cluster of experiences involved my college roommate who died three years ago. That ‘harvest’ had a great deal of richness to it because of our closeness over so many years. I will continue to revisit. Do you have someone like that? Is there a conversation or memory you can still share?
I put perspective on my ‘new-found’ solitude that wasn’t new-found – I found its genesis in the Spring and Summer of my life. I found the value and origin of wisdom and understand that the ‘seeds that I still sow’ are connected to who and where I can be of value because of what I have learned. That I can ‘invite’ me to listen and to help others connect the pieces of their life (the known and unknown) in order for them to get more of what they want.
My ‘harvesting’ has spent time in my past with great delight. I have also connected some other pieces that weren’t solely from the past. I want to explore more with you about the ‘seeds’ I/you want to sow. There is an irony of viewing harvesting as an exercise about my past, realizing that there is still ‘seed sowing’ to be done. I am also curious as to what other pieces that are present in aging that might have a place in the Spring and Summer of our lives.
To a better you…