Beauty is the harvest of presence, the evanescent moment of seeing or hearing on the outside what already lives far inside us; the eyes, the ears or the imagination suddenly become a bridge between the here and the there, between then and now, between the inside and the outside; beauty is the conversation between what we think is happening outside in the world and what is just about to occur far inside us.
~ David Whyte, Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words
I can’t decide where we should meander and roam today. Should we walk into the mystery of this morning’s fog? Should we go back to yesterday and look at what’s blooming, what’s greening, what’s popping up out of the ground? Maybe a bit of both? I guess we’ll have to wait and see where this ramble leads me.
All the messages I’ve noted lately are about letting go, releasing the old to make room for the new. The leaves of the oak trees that clung to the branches all winter are being liberated and returned to the earth. The dried grasses and flowers in the meadows are giving way to the new green shoots that are coming up out of the ground. The dried fruit on the mystery tree is finally surrendering to gravity as this year’s blossoms emerge.
A side note: I think the mystery tree is a Bradford/Callery Pear. The Bradford Pear tree was promoted in the 1960’s as a landscape tree that doesn’t self-pollinate and has sterile fruit. Unfortunately, introduction of other Callery varieties allowed cross-pollination and now the Bradford Pear tree is considered an invasive species. It was named Invader of the Month by “Invasive Species of Concern in Maryland” in April 2007.
I know most people associate letting-go with autumn, but there is a subtler release in spring. No blaze of glory colors. Just a gradual and gentle let-go.
The unknown is a very intimate place. You may feel very exposed when you open yourself to this inner space of unknowing, but really, the unknown is our only doorway.
~ Adyashanti, Falling Into Grace
I’ve been thinking a lot about goals lately, and my current goal (heh) is to give them up. Like New Year’s resolutions, I think self-improvement goals don’t lead anywhere in the long run. The problem with most goals, as I see it, is that they create an all-or-nothing situation in which success means 100%. Anything less is often seen as failure and/or an excuse to give up. For example, for years — decades! — I set weight loss goals. For years — decades! — I failed. Worse yet, there were times I put on more weight. And then I stopped. I gave up the weight loss goals and I started being present in the moment and present in my life rather than looking towards a “better” future when all my self-improvement projects had been accomplished. (I know I’ve used the weight loss goals as an example in the past. It keeps cropping up because I keep learning things from it.)
I think our society is addicted to goal setting. We want to be bigger, smaller, better, faster, stronger, thinner, richer, calmer, kinder, and all kinds of other -ers. Setting goals sends a message that we are not good enough as we are.
Here is what I discovered when I set aside the goals: The biggest adventure of all is being in the moment. It was fulfilling in a way that goals were not. It must have been filling as well because the weight came off without one goal in sight.
On the other hand, I have set challenges for myself that have helped me grow and stretch. The Get Outdoors Challenge, for instance, made a huge difference in my life. In case you don’t want to follow the link, the challenge was for me to step outside every day for a year. If you did follow the link, you might have noted that I wrote:
I’m setting out on this journey with no expectations other than the hope of learning a thing or two.
I probably should have set aside hope along with expectations, but it didn’t seem to hurt. I did learn a thing or two. I unlearned a thing or two, too. That year changed me in many ways, and the journey hasn’t stopped. I still go outside every day, and I still go without expectations. It’s always an adventure into the unknown even when I walk the same paths day after day after day.
I am not sure there is much of a difference between a goal and a challenge, at least not in most people’s minds. A challenge is defined as a call, a summons, an invitation to something (usually a duel or a fight or a battle, but why not something less violent?). According to Dictionary.com, a challenge “is stimulating to one engaged in it.” A goal, however, has an end point. A Google search turns up the definition of goal as “the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result.” It is the destination rather than the journey itself.
Well, if there was an end point to this particular ramble, I’ve lost it. Let’s just keep strolling along and see what else we encounter along the way. We can walk without goals, without challenges, without expectations. Thank you so much for meandering with me in the fog today. Our weather folks are saying that it might clear up around sunset. If you’re game, let’s meet at the Point. Sunset is at 7:09 PM now that we’ve sprung forward. After a morning of heavy fog and an afternoon of heavy cloud cover, perhaps the sun will put in an appearance and put on a colorful show for us. If not, a walk on the beach is always nice even on a cloudy evening.
Be good, be kind, be loving. Just Be. 🙂
Today’s joys: A long walk on a foggy morning; dew on the spider webs; watching the tide go out; the splashing of small fish in the water; the chatter of blackbirds and gulls, and the whistling of hawks.