Embracing flexibility

In our own search for beauty and what is good in life, we could do well to head outside and wander around.*
(Ryan Holiday)

In a few moments, I’m going to step outside.

It’s a driech day. Very foggy, damp, temperature just above freezing. There’s more than enough work to stay inside for and get on with, but I know I need to move, moving physically helps me to move mentally, emotionally and spiritually, too.

I’ll be back soon.

I am becoming rather than become. Rigidity is my foe, flexibility my friend. Maria Popova offers these words which feel full of flexibility:

I walk the ferned, mossed woods daily to lose my self and find myself between the trees; […] to let the rustling of the leaves beckon forth the stirrings and murmurings on the edge of the psyche, which we so often brush away in order to go on being the smaller version of ourselves we have grown accustomed to being out of the unfaced fear that the grandeur of life, the grandeur of our own untrammelled nature, might require of us more than we are ready to give.**

I know that I am susceptible, even prone, to shrinkage. I must replenish regularly for who I am and what I must do to grow, staying flexible and avoiding rigidity.

Popova is introducing David Whyte’s poem “Sometimes.” I found the words leading me into a special place as I listened to them:

Sometimes
if you move carefully
through the forest,
breathing
like the ones
in the old stories,
who could cross
a shimmering bed of leaves
without a sound,
you come to a place
whose only task
is to trouble you
with tiny
but frightening requests,
conceived out of nowhere
but in this place
beginning to lead everywhere.
Requests to stop what
you are doing right now,
and
to stop what you
are becoming
while you do it,
questions
that can make
or unmake
a life,
questions
that have patiently
waited for you,
questions
that have no right
to go away.**

Included in Popova’s blog there’s also a link to a commentary from Whyte on the poem, including these words which struck me forcibly as I listened:

A life sincerely followed is always surprising and always leads you into places you did not feel you could either enter or that you could deserve. And part of the ability to hold the silence as we move and as we tiptoe or walk or take our pilgrim path from one epoch of our lives to another is our ability to not name things too early and to allow yourself to be surprised as to where you’ve arrived.^

We are being invited to bring flexible attention as Steven Hawes would name it:

Processes of rigid attention show up as ruminating about the past, or worrying about the future, or mindlessly disappearing into our current experience the way teenagers disappear into video games.^^

Rigidity cannot hold the silence of our becoming – the sense of this is all we can be, a hiding from the “grandeur of our own untrammelled nature.” Only flexibility can be present in the moment, hesitating in naming things too soon and be open the possibility of surprise, something I have found myself holding in the phrase “slow journeys in the same direction.”

There is more to all of us than we know.

(*From Ryan Holiday’s Stillness is the Key.)
(**From Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: Sometimes.)
(^David Whyte from Brain Picker’s David White Reads “Sometimes.”)
(^^From Steven Hawes’ A Liberated Mind.)

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.