time and tide

I was delighted to find one sentence in today's Daily Om that perfectly expressed what I'd been thinking about on my morning walk:  Since we regard success as an inevitable eventuality, we tend to view time as meaningless.

I'd been considering how many friends, clients, and family members I have seen go through very tough times and come out the other side stronger, wiser, and happier than before.  I've seen jobs lost and found, relationships ending and beginning, children arriving and departing, educations commenced and completed.  I've been privileged to witness many dreams come true, many goals achieved, and many fantasies become reality.  These things did not necessarily happen as quickly as people had hoped, but happen they did.

Lately I'm considering the possibility that a large percentage of human suffering stems from impatience.  In my case, I'm estimating about ninety percent!  I think sometimes when things don't happen instantly, or at least within a few days, some of us start to wonder what we are doing wrong.  Are we not energetically aligned with our desires?  Not thinking positively enough?  Not putting out enough effort?  What are we missing? 

I've sustained several injuries in the past few years that have taught me a lot about this process.  No matter what I did or didn't do, healing took its time.  Yes, I could create optimal conditions for healing to take place -- nutrition, rest, exercise, etc -- but I could not force healing to happen. 

At one point I just sort of gave up on it.  I thought back to previous physical issues from my past and realized that I no longer had any of them.  They just eventually went away.  Then I thought of the Taoist expression that no storm lasts forever.  And I decided to stop trying to heal; to just get on with my life and let it go, even if it meant the problem might be with me forever.  I figured I'd either adapt to having it and forget what it had been like not to have it, or it would go away on its own. 

Most recently, I did this with an arm injury.  I was pretty ticked off about the range of motion restriction I was experiencing.  I finally became aware that I was giving it way too much of my attention, so I decided to accept it 'as is' and let it be.  The other day I happened to notice that it had healed and I have full use of my arm again.  I have no idea when that occurred.

So I wonder how it would be to do that with everything --  to place my order, like when I call for a pizza to be delivered, and then get busy with other things while the Universe whips it up for me.  I've thought about this, and probably written about this, before. But now, just in the past few months, I think I've finally hit the tipping point -- seen it happen often enough to believe and trust that life really can work this way.

If I felt certain that things would work themselves out eventually, I'd be much less uptight about when, where, and how.  Time really could become meaningless.

and of course a song popped right into my mind to go along with the title of this post, right?  Time and Tide by Basia.  How great is that?

just the next step

I've had several juicy conversations this past week about a concept with many labels: dharma, life path, mission, and purpose to name a few.  As with my progression of concerns theory, I am beginning to suspect that the idea of having a mission in life may also be left by the wayside at a certain point. 

Here's the metaphor I've been using to explain how this feels to me these days.  Odds are I'm lifting this from one of the hundreds of books I've read over the past thirty years, so if you can identify the source, please let me know so I can give appropriate credit where it is due. 

You know how they give that little safety demo on the airplane -- life vests, oxygen masks, etc.?  They usually mention that tiny lights on the floor will illuminate the path to the exits. If the cabin were to be filled with smoke, those tiny lights might be the only navigational aids available.  And if it's REALLY smoky,  you might see only the light that is a few inches in front of you.  But when you reach that one, another would come into view.  And simply by moving ahead to the next light over and over again, you'd eventually arrive at an exit.

Sometimes -- heck, maybe even all the time, I don't know -- we can only see one step ahead.  One of our options lights up for us, and we may not understand why or where we will go from there.  I almost always know exactly what to do if I focus only on my next step:  return this call, register for that class, listen to this song, scramble these eggs, write these words.  Confusion only sets in when I look too far ahead, or try to figure out why I need to do this next thing, or wonder which direction the step after that will take me. 

Trying to look too far ahead can trigger anything from mild angst to paralysis.  But just taking one little step, well, that's usually pretty easy.  So when I feel confused or unclear about my next move,  I figure I might be trying to take too big of a leap. So I look closer to where I am right now for the next light.  And I always find it.   

I have no idea where I'm going in life.  I suppose, being a mortal, that I'm heading for an exit.  What happens before I get there remains to be seen. 

karen's progression of concerns

Now that I've been listening to people professionally for over a decade, a pattern seems to be emerging.  I'm working on a model of human development that I call a progression of concerns.  Like any model, it can never fully capture the essence of what it represents -- maps are not territories, and menus are not meals. But I'm amused by this at the moment, and having a good time listening for which question folks seem to be working on answering.

Am I safe?

Am I right?

Am I ahead?

Am I happy?

Am I kind?

Am I loving?

Am I at peace?

Am I authentic?

Am I?


My theory for now is that we start at birth with the first question, and move through the progression at our own pace, rather than at certain ages.  Not everyone goes all the way through -- many people will be content to remain at one of the levels for a lifetime.

Once each question is answered, the concept it represents seems to dissolve into the background, become irrelevant, or even disappear.  For example, a person working on authenticity may or may not retain the desire to be kind or peaceful. 

And I think perhaps at the level of I?, the concepts of happiness or kindness may cease to have any meaning.  Everything just is.

Or maybe it's not a progression at all, but more like a merry-go-round, with seats available at any of the concerns at any time.  Like I said, the model is a work in progress, and I'll probably add, subtract, and rearrange questions numerous times.  I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on it.