Start close in,
don't take the second step
or the third,
start with the first
the step you don't want to take.
- David Whyte, from Start Close In
I am haunted by that bloody first step!
It seems so simple, right? Do what calls to me. Do what flows from me. Follow the inner guidance. Don't get balled up by envisioning the whole enchilada! Just answer to the first step, the one whispering, begging me to take. Take the first step and allow myself to one-step-after-another move forward in the adventure.
Of course, what is unsaid is how those second or third steps distract and seduce me from that essential first step.
The second step is self-sabotage that has me looking outside myself for inspiration, for guidance, for additional hints and best practices on how to take a step. It is all the advice offered freely and at ridiculous prices (if it's that expensive it must be the real deal - the map to Shangri-la, the code that cracks the riddle) and the books that offer insight into other peoples' journeys. (How I do love those books, the true life fairy tales with happily ever after assumed if not guaranteed.)
The third step is a false notion of priorities. Confusing another person's notion of what constitutes successful, meaningful, vital and necessary with my own. In my world, reading books out loud, writing letters and noticing how asparagus is green and purple with touches of rose pink must be present for true happiness to exist.
I am one who excels at complication. I specialized in crafting muddy water, clutter and chaos. I am grateful for friends who lasso me back in.
That first step? It is so hard because it is mine alone to take. No one else can describe it, no one else can verify or validate it for me. It is mine alone to make and mine alone to receive.
It is also very humble and unglamorous. It is sweat and conviction and determination and discipline held together by a childlike faith in the magical and miraculous, and a certainty that if I eat my dinner, there will always be desert.
A bit of a koan: if magic happens and there is no one else to witness it, does it make a sound? If it touches my heart, does that vibration ripple out?
Above all, be alone with it all,
a hiving off, a corner of silence
amidst the noise, refuse to talk,
even to yourself, and stay in this place
until the current of the story
is strong enough to float you out.
- David Whyte, from Coleman's Bed
I am extracting a story from deep within. It is unfamiliar territory this practice of writing. I am summoning it forth with the assistance of paint and play.
I am leaning heavily the support of my practice which I am shoring up through community here and in my May gathering of The Gift of Practice.
I am calling upon friends who inspire me, who follow their own paths and who counsel me to stay true to my way. These interviews will be part of The Gift of Practice and they represent the heart of what I share: that we each must find, honor and follow our unique path. No one can tell you the way. No one can do it for you. It is the gift you give yourself.
Remember the way you are all possibilities
you can see and how you live best
as an appreciator of horizons,
whether you reach them or not.
- David Whyte, from Mameen