Solid Ground

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Slumgullion Pass, Colorado

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us. – Charles Dickens

Over the past few weeks, as I reflect back on 2016 (“the WORST year EVER!” according to so many pundits), I wonder if Charles Dickens’ words lend a little perspective to those of us looking for solid ground in times that seem to defy predictability.

I won’t lie, over the past couple of months, I’ve been hypervigilant watching the news and blogs, checking every few hours for some authority or expert offering an opinion on what’s going to happen in an attempt to feed my craving to know.  What’s going to happen?  To our country, our economy, our planet?  And most importantly, how in the world are we going to navigate such polarity, clashes of values, dualism?
The best of times.  The worst of times.

My Buddhist friends will pipe up and remind me that looking for solid ground is a false sense of security, an illusion.  

“Instead of polarizing, this is a chance to stay with the groundlessness. It’s hard to stay with that much vulnerability.  Groundlessness and tenderness and sadness have so much to teach us,” says Buddhist author Pema Chodron.

How to be with these questions without experiencing huge overwhelm?  I know that when I feel this way, I’m asking the wrong question.  In focusing on events outside myself, the balance of power shifts to factors outside my control.  This doesn’t mean it’s an excuse to do nothing, but to remind myself that my power lies within and when I act from that place of stillness, I gain access to my full power – that of the intuitive knowing of the heart. 

“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart.  Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”  – Carl Jung

I believe that all of us have, in our hearts, the longing to serve through acting on the gifts we were given, whether that’s writing a book, acting in a play, starting a business, raising children.  We can minimize these gifts, playing them down, acting as though they’re inconsequential.  We think we’re being humble or modest to downplay our gifts, when in reality it’s the height of arrogance to hold back our brilliance. 

“We are the one terrible part of creation privileged to refuse our flowering,” muses poet David Whyte.

Committing to bringing our gifts forward can be extraordinarily difficult, fraught with self-doubt, waves of emotion, days dry of creativity or energy.  In Joseph Campbell’s framework of the Hero’s Journey, it’s the “return” — when Odysseus has survived all the tests and is now returning to ‘normal life.’ 

In the rooms of AA, it’s commonly discussed that the actual kicking of the addiction is difficult, yes, but the return to the everyday routines, the day-in day-out sameness – saying “yes” everyday to a new way of living – this is when we need grace to be a slow-drip feed of sustenance. 

Please, today, can I hold onto my vision??  Can I take the next baby step toward my dream?

The moment you take a stand for what really matters to you, you step into the current of infinite creativity and energy. By committing to what matters to you and stepping two feet in, you access the very power needed to live out your purpose. – Chameli Ardagh

​​This can be the loneliest part of the journey.  Gone is the thrill of newness, the “pink cloud,” where the voices of encouragement are ​​loudest and most attentive.  Instead, this new path becomes familiar, the cheerleaders may still be around but their cries are more muted, less frequent.  In fact, there may even be a few voices in the stands who cat-call or challenge your commitment – “how will you make money?”  “Just who do you think you are?” 

These are the times when we need each other, when we need help.  It has become my life’s work to walk alongside dreamers as they coax their vision out from behind the curtain, bringing a bit of sunlight to the seedling struggling to make itself visible above the humus. 

This is the phase when so many dreams go back into hiding, unable to withstand the elements that test the strength of this fragile life form.  We need each other at this time.  There used to be tribal elders and a community to support the dreamer – today, we have to put together our own tribe. 

It’s my dream to support others in telling their story, do what it takes to walk with you toward your vision for your life.  Action is essential, accompanied by reflection and doing one’s inner work.

It is through acts of creativity, bringing forth one’s gifts, that duality becomes a bit less relevant.  It’s neither the “best” nor “worst of times,” but simply “the times.” 

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