Today I was reminded that the road rises up to meet you and it’s far more fun than living trying to control or plan every minute. I interviewed Mark Susnow, the life coach and author of Dancing on the River, Navigating Life’s Choices for my radio program The Gathering Road. The more he spoke about his life and book, the more I remembered and his words resonated with my own life.
Lessons come in many forms. Today twice before noon, I’d received messages in casual conversations that stepped out in bold relief, like neon signs suddenly blinking over the speakers head. I get distracted easily and have SBO, Shiny Bright Object Syndrome. It can take repetition to get through to me and I’m listening now.
In college between my senior and junior years, I’d planned to supplement my loans by waitressing. I was prepared to jump from the crazy busy school schedule into many long days on my feet, exhausting myself to chase the mighty dollar. There was a huge wedding at a downtown hotel on my first free weekend. As my room mate’s plus one, I spent the reception sipping champagne and dancing. On the floor jumping madly to the beat, a man dancing next to me came down with the full force of his weight on the top of my high heeled right foot. The resulting bruises and hairline fractures kept me cloistered on my couch for weeks. I was angry and disappointed but the quiet of the empty apartment, the comfort of the living room couch, the windows full of sky and cloud from that low perspective became my refuge. I found silence. I found peace and didn’t know until that revelation that it was exactly what I needed to spend my summer cultivating. From that chrysalis, a young woman emerged with far more presence and contentment. Yes, I eventually was able to work and return to the school frenzy but it was with a deeper sense of happiness.
I like to think that it’s no longer necessary for me to become injured or sick to finally begin listening to the deeper currents of being; to have the courage to open to the silence and let life live through me. Perhaps it fuels my passion for travel and stepping away from a crowded life into unknown circumstances. It doesn’t matter how, it just matters that I find ways to listen, to carve space out of all the activity and reflect often.
I fight it and wonder why? Perhaps there’s fear of the unknown and change. You may be unhappy with your life, or job or relationship but at least it’s a known entity. Stepping off the precipice into mystery is challenging.
One big leap: Last year I stood on a bridge overlooking a river on a humid afternoon. I was in New Zealand traveling with my partner and his two adult kids. They were going to bungee jump and I elected to just document the falls. My sensitive nervous system had no craving for that adrenaline jolt. It was discernment, not cowardice. It was one precipice I didn’t need to fall into and I loved every moment – commiserating with others who were sidelining it, filming and still enjoying the heart-stopping plunge that my friends took one by one. They rose from the river ecstatic. That was plenty satisfying for me.
Another jump: In Teotihuacan I walked through the ancient classrooms of the Toltec teachers. I was studying with Victoria Allan, an elder of don Miguel Ruiz’s teachings. We did many metaphorical leaps of faith in ceremony and spirit. I had to face myself, my false beliefs, expose my hidden failings, really see how much energy was lost to old patterns and beliefs. It was all more blood curdling than any bungee jump and left me feeling empty but more complete – clearer, happier, more focused – with a nervous system intact and fuller than ever.
Today? I have a busy, often messy and not always easy life but it’s full of passion, fun and work that I love. If only I can remember to find the open spaces, to wander more, and listen deeply with intention and joy.
Copyright 2011, Elaine Masters, RYT, Trip Wellness Specialist, Yoga teacher and the award-winning author of Drivetime Yoga and Flytime Yoga – available at DrivetimeYoga.com as books, audio and with other travel ease products.