Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Weekly Reflection (week 22): organic growth

[H]ave patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer. (Maria Rainer Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet)

I've definitely been reflecting upon and searching for a healthy perspective on process. To say I've been feeling overwhelmed and limited would be an understatement. Part of the problem is my diving into so many rich programs undertaken with the intention to gather an awareness of the tools available to me. My problem is I immediately jump to the conclusion I should have complete mastery over everything: Photo Shop, Blogger, Blogging ... never mind the other lists from my life. And I believe I must always know exaxctly where I am headed before embarking upon any journey. Part of my personality is easily overwhelmed by too much stimulation (there goes my Vata-ness again) and my eye-on-the-prize tendency (the Pitta or fire element in me.)

I cannot put my finger on it, but there is also this sense "out there" (or maybe I'm just creating it in my head) that the boat is taking off and I had better jump on board or risk being left behind and losing my one big chance. And I find myself reacting rather than mindfully engaging.

Funny how the signs are all around me to slow down, pace myself and understand the false demons that plague me. I keep pulling the Isis card which counsels that a current situation involves a past life or childhood event. Thinking about my more immediate past I am aware of a pattern in the area of my vocation. I have felt compelled to make a clear cut decision about what it is I want to be - university professor, yoga teacher, activist just a few labels I have tried on - and then I single-mindedly pursued those careers. I am realizing that I choose a label and then try to squeeze myself and my life into that form rather than allowing my vocation, my calling, to emerge organically out of a process of exploration.

Even when we were preparing to bring Cowgirl home, I had this panicked sense that I wasn't prepared; that I should have been reading more, studying more. I despaired that instead of art history (or yoga), I should have been studying child development, pediatric nursing and Chinese to be really be ready and able. Now I am understanding total preparation is an illusion; a favorite saying of mine is "planning is priceless; plans are useless." So here I am planning and studying and gathering more tools than I every could hope to employ. What I need to remember is the second half of that statement: the part where living happens in the Now and plans are tossed out as life shifts and changes.

As Cowgirl moves through her changes, each stage is marked by a period of complete chaos and then a break down before she masters a new skill and moves into a new phase of development. I recognize this process in her (the calm phases only become apparent when the calm is over) and now I am seeing the same is true for me. My utter confusion as to how I am to proceed marks my moving from one stage of growth into another. I have a sense of something ahead, but I am lack mastery of all the tools and understand that will take me there. It is a process that must be lived through, not rushed. Skill, mastery, understanding develop best when allowed space to integrate and process.

So I am thinking a lot about organic growth. As the Rilke poems suggests, I am trying to live the questions and let go my fixation on the end result. I do not want to put myself into a hot house environment to force growth. I want to have patience and acceptance about where I am in my process. I am embracing the title of Explorer. And with exploring, it is given I will get lost, make wrong turns, lose track of time and space but hopefully have a journey full of discoveries and new adventures. And perhaps the end of my exploring is to arrive exactly where I am but with a new understanding of who it is I want to be.

Organic growth - what would that look like for you? How do we resist the compulsion to measure our growth against another's thereby stunting natural development?


  1. Lis..
    Another brilliant post. I found so much of this to pertain to me as well.
    One of my teachers today said, our bodies are born with everything we will need in a lifetime. That these things surface, ONLY when we are ready. It really had me thinking WHY I am trying to add sooo much more on, if the answers are within me. Food for thought. xoxo

  2. I also identify with much of this, Lis, and I agree with Indie Grrrl that many things surface only when we are ready. After spending many years trying to figure out what is my life purpose, in more recent years I've been more relaxed about it. I still don't know for sure what my life purpose is, but perhaps I've lost the need to know, and to be able to give it a label.