Within each of us, there is a deep longing and yearning to wonder, explore, and discover, and there is also a need to be-long.
These are like the inward and outward movements of a circle dance: into the centre and then out towards the extremities.
‘There is a constant and vital tension between longing and belonging. Without the shelter of belonging, our longings lack direction and focus.’*
Brené Brown describes a condition I know I have, which she names foreboding joy.
It’s the feeling when things are going well, something bad is going to happen, so I live with the expectation this joy won’t last and begin to brace myself, so the joy is lost even more quickly. If not dealt with, it can be a chronic pain in the background to all I do.
For some time now, my remedy has been to express gratitude (and humility) at the beginning of the day: to recognise what I have and who I am and how this is enough. These take me to the joy of what is, and away from the concern of what may never be.
Brown describes some surprising results of research undertaken into foreboding joy:
‘Participants described happiness as an emotion that’s connected to circumstances, and they described joy as a spiritual way of engaging with the world that’s connected to practicing gratitude.’**
As I contemplate this, I wonder how much my sense of foreboding comes from “old lizard brain” trying to cope with an ever complex world, whilst gratitude takes me to the place of higher Human thinking.^
Whatever we perceive to be more risky – watching Bear Grylls on TV undertaking one of his adventures, or being with him on an adventure – is where we’ll experience foreboding and we’ll hold back. My guess is, it’ll be the outward movement which provides the greatest consternation for us, moving away from the comfortable to the unknown. Gratitude, and humility, allows us to know we have enough and we are enough and can respond to the call to adventure, crossing the thresholds, following the path of many trials, triumphing in the great encounter, and returning with the gift.^^
(*From John O’Donohue’s Eternal Echoes.)
(**From Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly.)
(^A tangental offering from Sunni Brown suggests this doodling exercise: on a sheet of paper, doodle an unbroken line, creating enclosed spaces for just ten seconds – my first stage of today’s cartoon does just this – see below, though, as I write, I haven’t yet doodled it – and colour in the spaces. What you have done, Brown says, is released glucose and oxygen-rich blood into the visual and imaginative parts of the brain – The Doodle Revolution.)
(^^This may seem dramatic but tells the way of the classic hero, identified in everything from the myths of yore through to the present-day movie. Whilst we may not think of ourselves as heroes on our own, we can we heroes with others – heroic companies.)