My Musings – Ride
For some reason, I have been resistant to sitting down and musing this month. I suppose it is because January musings are always pretty loaded with resolutions, affirmations, and the like. All the “new year, new you” hype makes me uncomfortable. What was so wrong with the old year? What was so wrong with the old me? Sure, I could make a list of all the things that didn’t go right in 2015 and resign myself to do better in 2016, but I don’t want to move forward with feelings of shame, regret, guilt, or not enough. The truth is, I have found that some of my biggest mistakes have lead to some of my greatest blessings, not that I realized them as blessings at the time. I have seen them as such only in looking back.
“If you could do it, I suppose, it would be a good idea to live your life in a straight line – starting, say, in the Dark Wood of Error, and proceeding by logical steps through Hell and Purgatory and into Heaven. Or you could take the King’s Highway past the appropriately named dangers, toils, and snares, and finally cross the River of Death and enter the Celestial City. But that is not the way I have done it, so far. I am a pilgrim, but my pilgrimage has been wandering and unmarked. Often what has looked like a straight line to me has been a circling or a doubling back. I have been in the Dark Wood of Error any number of times. I have known something of Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven, but not always in that order. The names of many snares and dangers have been made known to me, but I have seen them only in looking back. Often I have not known where I was going until I was already there. I have had my share of desires and goals, but my life has come to me or I have gone to it mainly by way of mistakes and surprises. Often I have received better than I deserved. Often my fairest hopes have rested on bad mistakes. I am an ignorant pilgrim, crossing a dark valley. And yet for a long time, looking back, I have been unable to shake off the feeling that I have been led – make of that what you will.” ~ from Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry
Make of that what you will. I do feel led, even sometimes led astray. It’s all the same. I woke up this morning to a Rumi quote shared by my friend Julia Hanlon of the podcast Running on Om.
“You were born with potential. You were born with goodness and trust. You were born with ideals and dreams. You were born with greatness. You were born with wings. You are not meant for crawling, so don’t. You have wings. Learn to use them, and FLY.” – Rumi
This is how I want to be led into this new calendar year, fully aware of the potential, goodness, trust, ideals, and dreams that are already within me and curious about how they will be manifested over the next 365 days. I want to move forward on my wings, rather than my knees. This lovely Rumi quote reminds me of one of my favorite poems by Mary Oliver as well.
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting-
over and over announcing your place
In the family of things.
The world doesn’t pay attention to a date on a calendar. The world simply goes on. I intend to do the same. I intend to keep listening so that I can hear how the world calls to me and to keep following what the soft animal of my body loves, to be led. That can be so much harder than it sounds. Life is loud. We are constantly being bombarded with messages from family, friends, social media, the news, our own inner voices. It can be hard to hear when the world, or our own body, or a new path calls out to us. And yet, that is exactly what we must do. We must hear the call so that we can heed the call. That is the only way we will know which direction to fly.
This past month, I had the amazing honor of interviewing the one and only Gloria Steinem, a women who has heard the call and followed it steadfastly for decades, blazing a trail for so many after her. We discussed her new book “My Life on the Road,” the birth of the women’s movement, talking circles as activism, overcoming fear, and purple motorcycles. Please read our conversation in our Activism Section. Over the next month, we will be adding in more conversations with women who are following their own unique calls. I hope you will make some time to join our conversations. I hope you will also make some time for silence, for deep listening so that you can hear your own call. We were all meant to fly. We were all meant to find our purple motorcycle and ride where we are led.
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