Waiting it Out

Going on vacation is like a reset button for me. This summer has been strange up to this point: disjointed, off-kilter and emotional. I have felt like a fish out of water with no logical reason for this out-of-step sensation.

Then I went away. I had high hopes of learning something profound or life-altering, as has occurred in the past, but instead it was just more of the same. Scratchy on the inside, easily irritated, a rising wind of discontent pushing my peace out of reach.

We all have crappy seasons that we just have to walk through, whether we want to or not. I find them easier to bear when I can pinpoint the cause of my malaise (“Oh, that’s why!”), but this time around no source for my frustration made itself evident.

waitingWhen the time approached to head home, I felt disappointed that no great revelation had descended. Like most people, I wanted to feel happy and relaxed; to embrace the summer heat with its long days and pleasant evenings. I yearned to flip a switch and feel like myself again, but nothing was working.

Then we came home. Suddenly, a heaviness lifted and I knew a shift had taken place. I still couldn’t identify a reason for this change, but somehow it ceased to matter. Our inner landscape is a tumultuous place. We can’t hold onto the good and avoid the bad. We must accept what comes, learning from what is unsettling as much as from the things that bring us joy.

I long to be patient with my own humanity. I want to extend mercy for my flailing vulnerabilities instead of hurrying my soul through its inevitable rough patches. And yet I fail miserably at this. I want to assign a scientific meaning to everything I feel, like pencil points on graph paper, instead of accepting that feeling blue is part of the human condition.

We can’t be skilled at everything. There is always more to learn and to achieve. Perhaps, for today, it is enough to simply rest in my own soul, without forcing any one specific outcome. I know from experience that a painful season leads to a fertile, peaceful one. Hurrying growth along breeds nothing but resentment. Patience is a better plan. Too bad it’s so damn hard.

We are all doing better than we think we are. I tend to make it harder than it has to be. Sometimes, we just have to wait it out, finding the good and the beautiful in the midst of the difficult. Answers come to us later, when we stop fighting the power of the current and find ourselves back out on the sand. Labour is agonizing for a reason. At the end of it, you get new life.

Finding Stillness

Learning to be still is a skill. It’s not something we can think ourselves into. Stillness is a state to be experienced, felt, lived. It’s a choice. No matter how chaotic the world is around us, we get to control what happens inside of us. And stillness is a decision.

Our culture doesn’t really support stillness. With technology, we speed up instead of slowing down. It feels like we go against the grain when we work at a quiet interior space. But it’s so healthy for the soul. It’s similar to cleaning a clogged and dirty filter so that everything functions again the way it is meant to.

Meditation is a part of stillness, but I find it challenging. I love it when I’m doing it, but it seems to get pushed aside in favour of other things. A friend just shared a meditation app she uses called Headspace. I’m planning to give it a try to see how it works.

stillnessGetting to a place of stillness requires concentration and effort. If it’s not a priority, it won’t happen. Breathing is an excellent path to inner calm. The more we can slow down each individual breath, the better our physiological response will be. Long, deep, relaxing breaths recalibrate our inner rhythms, helping us return to our true selves.

We are so much more than our schedules, our anxieties, our regrets about the past or our fears for the future. We are now, we are here, we belong to this moment only. It’s far too easy to miss this ideal present. We can be pulled in so many directions at once, feeling fragmented and lost, but the task at hand is to gently return to where we actually are.

I know I’m on the wrong track when the squirrels get running in my mind and I forget to anchor to here. This moment is the one that matters. Other people and specific circumstances can churn and stress and grind ahead, but I can choose to slow down and search for stillness inside of myself.

I know that the benefits of this are well worth the cost, but yet I wait too long to get intentional about serenity and peace. It’s an area for me to grow into. I believe that when we move toward stillness for ourselves, other people sense it and benefit from this radiated calm. It offers permission for them to slow down and move in the direction of stillness.

I want more of this quiet. More of GOD (either a higher power or simply Good Orderly Direction). More of the certainty that I am enough, that I have enough, and that in this present moment, I lack for nothing. Worrying is a dead end street. Stillness is a healthier choice. Inching toward it is preferable to not recognizing it at all.