“Today I commit to living with humility, detachment, acceptance and, most of all, joy.”
It’s been an internally tumultuous, overly busy couple of weeks and months, and I’ve felt incredibly heavy with the weight of the world as well as my own personal decisions. So yesterday, while staying home for some R&R to get over a cold, I did the I Ching, at long last. ‘How do I create a clearing in the dense forest that is my life?’, I asked. The answer was clear: The Joyous (58). It was one of those answers that instantly illuminated a truth I already had inside me but was too dense and too self pitying to see. Out of this answer came the above mantra, that is now taped to the inside of my bedroom door.
This week I’ve been focusing on exhaling fully and deeply, releasing hours and days of stale air from my lungs. So often meditative practices and exercise regimes are centered on breathing in, pulling air into the body, and while this is important of course, I have found that my personal challenge is for release, to expel tension from my body. I find that I’m often holding my breath while doing any number of things which certainly doesn’t help for stress reduction.
Such a simple thing. But so essential. Today, breathe out. Find serenity in stillness.
And here’s a different kind of serenity:
I spent all of Labor Day weekend at the Communities Conference at the Twin Oaks Community in Virginia. I met new friends, with whom I discussed everything from relationships to the many alternative energy systems to consensus to family structures. I danced and drank wine and then woke up the next morning to attend a workshop on income sharing. I laughed deeply, learned about communities existing and yet to be, and cried during the transparency circle ‘If you really knew me’ exercise. I left with a newfound energy and an even deeper yet more realistic commitment to community. This weekend was a culmination of sorts of my journey from a lone progressive 16 year old overjoyed at discovering the Intentional Communities website to Lutheran Volunteer Corps to trying to create my present urban community house. It was a magical, exhilarating few days.
And then I came home. Home to a busy city, to interstate traffic, to chores undone and a possibly dying tree in the backyard (on top of the aspen that already died in the front, mind you). And I found myself immediately tense, aggravated, frustrated, and then I wanted to cry. Because arriving home after an inspiring weekend shouldn’t evoke such negative emotions, right? I should be excited about what I experienced and motivated to live it out and continue building new relationships and furthering old ones. But instead I’m tense, caught up in the diametric opposition between the deep intentionality and joy I felt from so many wonderful people at the Communities Conference and the distance and yet unbuilt connection of my current life.
There’s a lot to ponder, and I’m glad I have the relatively concrete point of Ben and my Mississippi River Bike tour in the not too distant future to plan around. Because if I didn’t have a planned transition point, it wouldn’t be hard for me to imagine pulling a ‘leave it all behind and follow my joy’ as soon as possible.
In the coming months I hope to have support and conversations with those I love, and maybe even those I don’t yet know, about where my life is or should be going, what my vocation is, and how to truly balance happiness and world-changing. I need space for discernment, and some deep consideration of my real priorities and heart longings (cue ‘Heartlines’ by Florence and the Machine).
Who knows, a year and a half from now you might find me writing from any number of places, rural intentional community, non-Western continent, or someplace else all together.