I would describe myself as tightly wound, highly focused, very busy and quite successful. Other than feeling drained, I was happy with what I had accomplished and believed that I had created a happy home for my husband and two children. I have always struggled to slow down and really listen to and connect with people but I thought that was an inevitable by-product of being a high-energy career woman.
I came into the intensive determined to save my life, even though I wouldn’t have described myself as discontent with it. I just knew that I needed a big change because I felt as if I was running to stand still. At the same time, I was nervous about what would happen if I stopped. Even though we were strangers when we started, Annika instantly made me feel safe and sane… even though I was very uncomfortable with myself in those initial days, I was always certain that she could see me and was taking care of me.
On the late morning of the fourth day, I took myself for a walk in the woods and for the first time I just brought myself (not the tapes or my thoughts or my map). The reason that I left the house was that as I was washing the dishes I heard a voice inside of me simply pose the question — Are you ready to take a walk now? The next time the voice showed up was several minutes in… Where are you running to? I forced myself to slow down to what felt like an unnaturally slow pace. Later, I became conscious that I was still accelerating when going up the hill, was walking gingerly going down the hill and was slightly bored walking on the flat parts.
Once again I focused on my pace, making it work in conjunction with the slow methodical rhythms of the wildlife preserve. And then I heard the voice again, clear and sure — You are brave. Funny because that is never a word I would have used to describe myself. I flashed to an email from Diane to a parting comment from a participant in my first group course I had met in December to my mom’s pet-love name for me as a child, Pallas Athena. And then a flood of reflection. All of the times in my life that I chalked up to not knowing any better or refusing to wait for the appropriate time… And all of the times I misused bravery to build an ego that took pride in victories while chastising itself for the casualties that were trampled in the pursuit. All of the times I engineered an enemy to defeat to fuel my break-neck speed…
I am brave, I am heartfelt and I am articulate. That is what the voice revealed to me on my walk. It is not someone I’ve become. It is who I have always been. This is why I have never had to work at any of these three attributes, never had to try hard, they were just always true. But first and always I am brave. And instead of viewing that with curiosity and respect, I have leveraged it for personal gain, for personal mind.
And now I’m free to get off of the horse, to stop looking for a fight and to celebrate this moment with everything that I am and will always be. I never expected to need my bravery for this — I expected (and have been looking for and have been manufacturing) much more dramatic battles than this. But I heard my own voice in the woods today and for the first time truly embraced and accepted myself without apology or remorse. I have found what I’m looking for and now I am free. (Funny how I’m writing this in a Greek restaurant that I stumbled upon). The next step is to be present in this and every moment without trying to conquer it or rush through it. If like Syd, I have conquered this world then I can finally put down my sword and just be.
I am brave, I am heartfelt and I am articulate.
Bravery does not require an enemy to defeat. It is the courage to be present in this and every moment.
Heartfelt does not mean drama. I can connect to the spiritual essence of someone instead of the stories they tell.
Articulate does not mean persuade or convince someone that I am right. It is the capacity to speak without thought.
I have to get off of my horse, my charging steed (otherwise known as my ambitious pursuit of more) and go at my own natural pace. The wealth and joy will be in the moment, not after the moment is over.
Being calm does not mean being vacant, sleepy or disconnected. Being tranquil is very different from being tranquilized — one is being Present in this moment, the other is making oneself numb to it.