This week my mind has been in constant motion, trying to keep up with the rapid fire change around me . “There are decisions to be made, plans to be created, goals to achieve”, my mind reminds me every second- I’ve just quit one teaching job, which didn’t resonate with me, which was a lovely opportunity to be true to myself. However, given that, I’m starting to settle into the idea that I’ll may only be able to remain in Cuenca, Ecuador for a few months more. This place is lovely, but on some level I known all along that this place is a temporary home, and in between of sorts. I’m not even sure why I’m here, just that I’m learning, unburying parts of myself that got lost, writing my heart out, and eating my body weight in granadillas. At some point, I’ll be finished with those things- and then I will move on, do something else.
This is a big open space, and my monkey mind… immediately scrambles to fill open spaces. Something else? But WHAT something else?!, my mind shouts, pulling me from the present into a space of planning. Surely I must have something to tell people, when I admit that every time I think of how long I’ll remain here, I don’t know. December? But what if I change my mind and want to stay longer? What if I want to leave earlier? Where am I going? A few locations come up in my mind, but none of them with any certainty. Will my book be finished when I leave? Will I start seeking a publisher? What if I’m not ready to share? What if I am? Should I go to that conference where my hero author will be? If I go there, should I just go for a few days? Where should I stay? Shit, forget conferences, what the F continent am I even going to live on after this? How will I… What will I…Do I want to… Should I…
“Aaaaaah”, screams my mind, “Figure out all the things”.
So yesterday, as I penned another chapter of my story, both my novel and my actual life seeming to form almost independently from my own consciousness at times, I ran into a friend at the coffee shop. We sat for about an hour and caught up on our weeks, and I told him about some of the things I’m not quite sure how I feel about in my life, expressed my desire to know how these things might go.
“It sounds like you don’t know what you want”, he reflected back to me. I nodded enthusiastically, “I don’t, I really don’t!” I said, hearing the tone of panic in my own voice.
Then he asked me if he might give me a bit of advice, and I accepted. I’m generally hesitant to accept advice, because I tend to think as humans we love to generalize our own experiences and assume that we know what’s right for another. However I was facing a big pile of confusion so I obliged. What followed was SO good, so universally applicable, I want to get it tattooed on my forehead so I never forget.
“Stop trying so hard to figure any of it out”, he told me. “Just show up.”
Just show up? Holy helllllll, it was so simple, and yet… perfect. It’s all we ever really need to be doing. Showing up 100% as whoever we are and however we feel in each moment. And if it changes- accepting that is totally okay too. And yet we get so caught up in the need to plan, to know, to have some sort of predictable outcome that we miss how simple this being human thing is… and how it changes all the time. Fuckin’ eh, I’d been trying to figure everything out again, and totally forgotten to embrace that we all live in a stream of constantly shifting information.
I laughed, sharing a related moment awhile back in which I tried to force plans instead of just accepting that maybe not planning was the most realistic, and even the most personally comfortable way of navigating the situation. Instead I had leaned into external pressures to do the whole silly ‘figure this out’ thing, needing answers or some sort of definition because of what I perceived others might want. My friend laughed as I told him how I wished I’d handled it differently. “Regrets are about as useful as plans”, he said.
And I knew exactly what he meant. The future doesn’t exist, but neither does the past, yet here the moment I let go of the future my mind rewound, finding another way to be anywhere but the present. Now… such a lovely location in time… I really ought to hang out more in it.
So, in case anyone was wondering what my plans are for the next several months (and judging from the questions I am asked constantly by friend and family, some are quite curious), I’ve finally figured it out. My plan? …to show up. That’s it, that’s all I’ll be planning. Waiting to see what information life brings me and …showing the f up.
Later, as I was penning this blog, a friend shared his creative work with me via Facebook, a beautiful song he’d written and recorded. He expressed hesitance- the natural trepidation that comes with sharing our heart’s work with others that I can so relate to as a writer. It’s scary enough to show up and accept whoever we are in each moment, it’s even more terrifying to do it out loud I have so much respect for his courage both as a creator and a person- and it reminds me- when we show up, in each moment, exactly as we are, it creates space for others to do the same… to trust that we only need to create reality one beautifully alive moment at a time is such a powerful thing… and it’s a choice we have to make over and over, letting go of the moments we totally failed at being present, the moments we clung to our favorite moments out of fear that the new ones we created couldn’t possibly be as perfect. It’s about being curious, it’s about being free, it’s about accepting all of it as a part of being human.
So this being a human thing? Osho puts it this way; “Life isn’t a problem to be solved, it’s a mystery to be lived.”
And I’m off, to embrace another 24 hours of mystery, one empanada… or I mean… one moment at a time ; ) All love, Jen