Looking back upon the previous year, I would have to agree it was a year of opening to possibilities. I finally left my job of 12+ years that had been confining and squeezing my spirit; I embarked upon a dream of a lifetime to visit New Zealand, meeting at last a sister of my heart (how often had we danced with the notion of meeting in the flesh?!); I stretched myself to teach new courses; I shed another layer of constricting skin and released a position that had become a burden; I traveled, visited with friends, and continued to challenge myself creatively.
Possibilities was my mantra for the year and it allowed me to see change as a threshold into new adventures. Rather than dwelling on what I was releasing (the experience more often than not being one of grasping tightly to a thorny branch ... yes, I had hold of something but look at the bloody results?) I kept my gaze open to what might be, daring to dream big and full and wide and vast.
This is the gift of choosing a word for the year. Rather than a resolution, a to-do list (oh, but I am soooo good at those!) it acts as a reminder of who or how I want to be. My word is my intention for myself, for my life. What I want to cultivate within myself, what I want to open to, what I want to embody or embrace.
Some years my word has been inspiring and others it has been less so. My understanding after working with this practice for 4 years is in choosing a word that excites and somewhat frightens me. To choose an intention that holds some aspect of daring, that pushes me over the edge of my comfort zone. Fearless (2010) was a damned good year. Shine (2011) less so. (Perhaps too abstract for me?) Possibilities (2013) was full of juice and interpretation. Full of ... yes ... possibilities.
There are many worksheets and complicated formulas for helping you to choose your word. As one who naturally falls upon the obsessive/controlling spectrum, it is best for me to avoid such techniques. Rather, I try to open my awareness to allowing my word to find me. I find a little serendipity, a healthy dollop of trust and a dash of trust in happy accidents works best.
So my word found me while I was listening to David Whyte's audio program What to Remember When Waking. (Reading or listening to poets or philosophers makes one more accident prone when it comes to moments of grace and inspiration.) It was a word that leaped out at me ...
As I told a friend, desire is a concept alien to my puritanical inclination. It fits my criteria for daring, and it feels audacious and ... well ... a tad dangerous? It is a word, as my friend pointed out, that could take me all kinds of places, could unlock many interesting doors.
What hooked me was David Whyte's explanation of the origin of the word, "from the stars" and "to await what the stars will bring." He writes:
"Desire demands only a constant attention to the unknown gravitational field which surrounds us and from which we can recharge ourselves in every moment.
How would your days be different if you lived a life of desire?"
The act of desiring being one of connecting with the deepest yearnings within the heart and the soul, a connection with Divine, with something larger than myself. To open to desire is to invoke both my spiritual and animal self and in doing so experience a new fullness of being.
In all honesty, asking myself "what do I desire?" feels like a challenge to the gods. My reaction being "how dare I?" To speak of desire never mind actively seeking it, feels selfish, greedy, and indulgent. But then there is the poet's challenge to live a life of desire. It suggests a reaching for the ultimate pot of gold. Yet I hold back - why?
If I am being honest, it is out of fear. That I will be disappointed, that I will discover I am not worthy, undeserving, that fulfillment and connection is not my fate. I am haunted by Prufrock's dilemma "do I dare?" (And in short, I was afraid.)
So Desire it is. I accept my own dare. To open myself up to my deepest yearnings, dreams, aspirations ... to open to desire and then hold a space to receive that which is beyond my small mind's ability to conceive. To open to what the heart can imagine and what the stars offer me ... to stand in the night and allow my dreams and yearnings to expand with the dark sky, the pinpoints of light suggesting the millions of possibilities that are mine to taste, touch, smell, see and know. To tether myself to the stars and see where they take me.
To be that bold, to love that immensely ... Desire sounding like life dipped in dark chocolate ... recognizing I've done it once before ...
And it was soooo right, so good. Opening to Mystery and seeing what she offers ...
I think that is a pretty exciting proposition for the coming year, don't you?