Pursuing Wisdom

In the past, I was sure that everyone possessed wisdom in better measure than I could ever hope for. I am not sure why but that is the place I put myself. It was the pursuit of wisdom that pushed me to stand up for myself and to claim the wisdom that I have earned this lifetime. It was that small voice that said to me, “you know how to dress your babies for the weather. You know the food that nourishes your body and you know how much sleep that you need to restore your strength for another day”. My pursuit of wisdom said “try this instead of doing that again”.  I studied and I managed, I pretended and I grew in confidence. Being young was a magical time when my brilliance and self appreciation was lost amid a struggle to create stability, purpose, to emerge and achieve. I made many long term decisions with a boldness that could only have been accomplished in that particular young believing space in my life. Persevering in the resulting day to day circumstances took surrender on my part. Desiring to seek wisdom allowed this journey to flow into a lifestyle choice. I am willing to see my journey with fresh eyes and understanding. What I was before has seemed to come to a close. My family is grown, my marriage is long over.  I am challenged with what feels like forced solitude.  I have jokingly referred to my home in the desert as located at the dead end of a dead end.

Pursuing wisdom seems to nurture me towards surrender to life and its current challenge of accepting this change. My current state of reality differs subtly from resignation.  This resistance to my circumstances is what ultimately increases my pain and frustration. Resignation is a habitual defense I have employed in my past.  I am aware that I default to this rigid thinking when things are challenging. Surrender is similar but it is softer around completely giving up. Surrender allows me to back off from a challenge and engage the power of allowing rather than exertion of my will or forcing an immediate solution. Judging what has been is a defeating habit of mine.   Wisdom is found in the recognition of the useless nature of judgment and my embracing the soothing of acceptance. I understand the quiet strength of allowing things to resolve of their own accord. My internal climate does indeed affect situations. My own fairness and balance bring these energies into the process. This has been the theme of my life as I navigate reentry into life after an illness. I know with certainty now that anything I experience can be viewed through a softer surrender to what lessons may be revealed to me. I am becoming willing to adjust my survival behavior.   How can I restrict my personal urge or need to be right or positioned advantageously?  I am beginning to recognize subtle energetic places of connection and disconnection. Wisdom is to pay attention to this information as I am becoming aware of it. Noticing is the first step for me and making decisions to adjust my energy investment is what follows.

I used to feel obligated to having a reaction to everything. I thought my reacting validated who I am and what I stand for. I am stepping back. I am acting now to curb my reacting. I am experiencing an open mind towards the experiment of living life as an observer. I wonder if the things I have gone through in life are actually mapped out somewhere, and I am on a predetermined journey. I am in a place where I am face to face with the knowing of my own mortality. The clock is ticking.  In order to accept this finality as a possible outcome I must carry on. I am allowing myself to separate a bit from this conclusion and the sense of panic it brings up in me. I will remember to breathe and retreat. I am learning to watch my life unfold. I have been a doer. For now I practice being a watcher. I am tired. I hope by retreating that I will create rest for my spirit. I will give myself some grace here because I have held myself tightly and not allowed for much error. For today I can accept being wrong. I am not meaning to willfully create chaos but I will allow for innocent mistakes, experiments and to make corrective adjustments as I go. Already I feel more relaxed. I am willing to feel good about circumstances changing in my life. Fear of failure is loosening its grip on my psyche. Who locked me into this cell? Wait, I am not locked in, the door is open. I will see today the many options that I have in order to feel the potential in the flow of events. I will loosen the grip that I have on my reality so that I may allow the past to fade back and for the present to be. I am remembering to trust the future to emerge. That is wisdom. My grip on my reality is hard on me. I will surrender the need for my life to feel pleasant and manageable.  I will accept the discomfort of not knowing.

Desiring change is a current theme in my life. I am presently immersed in the closure of many phases of life. I am entering midlife fertility changes. My youngest daughter is graduating from high school and moving to another state. I am staring straight at an empty nest. My strategy is to take it in a little at a time. Like Thoreau in Walden, I want to participate in my life at the level of cause and to relish the effect. I want to make sense of what has passed in my life this far. I am weary of reacting to circumstances and I am willing to do the work involved in accepting responsibility for my experiences, good or bad.

I am experimenting with what I have heard call the little way. As a young girl I read of St. Therese of Lisieux.  I am neither a devout follower, nor participant in this worship community but I do have an affinity for this path.  “Going to heaven” for me is not the goal. I desire to discover and access an inner peace as I fulfill this life. The thought of inner peace is heaven. I desire to understand that life is neither good nor bad, but is comprised of a mixture of experiences. Good and bad are just labels of my judgment without the benefit of time and context to create a deeper understanding.

“I will seek out a means of getting to Heaven by a little way—very short and very straight, a little way that is wholly new. We live in an age of inventions; nowadays the rich need not trouble to climb the stairs, they have lifts instead. Well, I mean to try and find a lift by which I may be raised unto God, for I am too tiny to climb the steep stairway of perfection. To get there I need not grow; on the contrary, I must remain little, I must become still less.”  ~ St Therese of Lisieux

Mother Teresa also spoke of performing small acts of great love. There is no way I can compare my desires and my way but I can say that the “small way” approach to a kinder existence speaks to me. Small efforts seem to me to be the greatest approach to the larger appearance of goodness. When I change too much, too fast the changes can be unsustainable, unbearable and regrettable.  I have described some decades of my life as a series of overcorrections.  I practice now the smallest changes that I can consciously make within my circumstance. It is my goal to maintain my equilibrium. I don’t always achieve it but am at least waking up to the possibility and I am not dwelling in all or nothing thinking.

I do not struggle with immorality or lawlessness but more with societal imposed schooling or thinking. I align with most what I understand about the transcendental movement of the 1800’s and I am surprised that I am a modern day follower. I did not know until now from our reading in this class it had a name or a community. My future holds some exploration of what exists as far as potential to find like minded others. I intend to at least try, not that I desire to suddenly become super connected to other people. I remain very firmly positioned in my independence.  Sadly I feel that I have been playing king of the hill through much of my life. I am receiving a call to soften. This is my work. The pursuit of wisdom is releasing my fears around survival that has driven me in my life. Now I am gravitating toward a softer version of acceptance of my being and my place in the world as I enter these years of my life.

I am pursuing wisdom anew as I allow my life to suggest a pattern of acceptance of the flow of my life.  I feel more than ever that my time of accumulation and desire to advance has shifted. I feel more a sense of release and harvest.  It feels wise to accept this change in flow though it is new behavior for me to conduct myself in such a non striving manner. I am still busy managing the harvest. I am a little confused by health and medical drama. It seems unfair and random that issues exist in my life so I am challenged to the wisdom in nonresistance to what is and to accept the inevitable ups and downs of this life.

“The miracle is not to fly in the air, or to walk on the water, but to walk on the earth.”        – Chinese Proverb

Recognizing the unfolding of wisdom is my path and to delve more deeply is my call to action. Growing has been my work from the moment I was born. Accumulation and appreciation of knowledge is fun and meaningful but the actual pursuit of wisdom can be openhearted participation in those little experiments in living that have taught me what not to do. It has taken a lifetime to be where I am in understanding this. The wisdom I possess is hard won through the trial and error of living my life. One of the lengthiest lessons I have finally achieved is that surrender is not giving up. It is a gentle release of my expectations around an outcome and an acceptance of a given result. Every resolution is a winner.  To take it a step further is to see there really is no winner and looser just an outcome to be experienced.

Acceptance and residing in the moment is giving me the freedom that I deeply desire.  It removes the burden of measuring up to some imagined standard that I have for myself and the relentless pursuit of some vision I have conjured in my mind of the future.  What a hamster wheel I have been on for almost all of my life. Wisdom is recognizing my life is this moment only. The work for me is to reign in the attachment to an identity that I have found in my past.      To really inhabit the present moment gives me the greatest challenge.  I am prone to projecting and planning my future and how I might see myself existing in this imaginary story.  It is almost like this imaginary projection is reality.  I want to reconnect with the actual moment of my day. The challenge surfaces again and again to test my intent and awareness. Do I want to wake up or not? What is my life? Is who I am the stories of my past? Is it my desire for the future?  What if my desire is as dry as a desert? What if all I am able to do is return to my past to touch and sift for meaning and connection to what feels like a life force? Wisdom seems to whisper to me now that every event of my time here on this earth has been a turning of a season of life. It is my turn to perform and endure this inventory. It feels like a long walk through the forest. Wisdom knows that this too shall pass. My surrender to life and its trials, and accepting the present are proof that I am growing in wisdom.  This newfound peace grounds me in a surety that whether I resist it or not life is happening in every moment. My wisdom is connecting with others and exploring their reflections around living this life.   I am lucky to connect to the sharing and the journey of others. When I seek to make sense of the events of my life I am emboldened to continue living it.

© 2016 Rochele Stuff

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