It’s been a reflective few days. I traveled for business, spending my days in a board room, listening to clients explain what they’ve got and what they need instead, and feeling like I was in a space where I had some expertise. I spent my nights talking to colleagues I’ve only ever interacted with through messaging and online meetings, talking about work related issues and topics closer to the heart. I spent my travel time and some evening time voraciously reading a book about dying, another book about presence, and beginning a book about Christianity’s central tenets, even as I work to live more deeply in my own beliefs. I spent a free morning looking at fish in an aquarium, and contemplating the moral implications of confining fish and plants in an artificial environment, while watching children learn in a way they could not without such an environment.
Two weeks ago, when this last minute trip came up as an opportunity, I jumped at it, and then I immediately began questioning my motivation. So much of the journey of the last eight months has felt like 2 steps forward, 1 step back – change happening, certainly, but so much tug back towards safety, back towards the known. Was this a step back? Was my ego flattered and was that the driving energy of my decision making? (Uh, yes, although it’s not necessarily a bad thing when there is also awareness.) And I was still waiting for my license, to begin pursuing what might be next in the realm of massage. A business trip to a place I’ve never been seems a great way to tread water while waiting.
I hoped that I would have my license by the time I returned home, and the universe answered: I do. It feels almost anti-climactic now; it doesn’t represent anything but an open door. The accomplishments, and celebration of, happened months ago – when I graduated and passed my exam. This license number is simply a door that was locked, and now is opened. It is still up to me, to walk through it. Another two steps forward, two steps into a largely unplanned, completely unknown future.
The book I finished, Eckhart Tolle’s The Power Of Now, basically says only one thing: the only thing to pay attention to is right now. The unknown future is scary, yes, but it’s in the future, and it will always be in the future. There is only right now, this instant. As I type on this keyboard with my chilly fingers and toes, right now is my thoughts on a computer screen and a desire for a hot bath. Those aren’t scary things. The unknown future? Well, it can stay out in the future.
Later today, tomorrow, or sometime soon, there will be a thought that becomes an action, about how to proceed. A small step – an arrangement about renting space for a few hours a week, a conversation that leads to my first paid appointment, who knows what. It, too, will seem small and … maybe not “not noticeable”, but nothing so momentous as to sing it from a mountain top. Just another step, another piece of the picture.
Just like a puzzle, I know what I want my life to look like in 2 years. It’s a vision I have been working on defining in a meditation workshop I’ve been attending. Prior to the workshop, I had many fuzzy ideas of what my future could look like. Imagine putting together a puzzle where you had no idea of the finished picture, where you weren’t even sure if it would form a rectangle with lines! Maybe someone would find that challenge fun, but not me. I believe a lot of my worry has stemmed from these undefined ideas. Even if my vision changes, even dramatically, the definition provides overarching direction.
So with this picture in mind, I have another piece in my hand right now – stepping through the door just opened. At this moment, there is only that one piece to focus on. If I look at all the pieces that make up that picture, I could (and probably will) become overwhelmed. But right now, just this one piece. And when it fits, another piece will come into play, and either my picture will be ready for it, and it will find its place, or my picture won’t quite be ready and I’ll set it aside for a while, and find a piece that my picture is ready for.
And this is the way things in life often progress, when we let life do its thing. My ego, my need for safety, will surely rear itself up, look at all the pieces dumped out on the table, and encourage me to take a break, to take a step back, to engage in something more certain, familiar or known, and maybe I will listen for a step or two, but in the space that security provides, I’ll return to reflection and, in turn, take two more steps forward, pick up another piece or two of the puzzle and focus on the now.
Now what? Now.