I set off on a new path today.
Hiking my favorite trail had become routine. I’d traveled that path hundreds of times. And while it’s always felt like home—a protective sanctuary to work through struggles or to simply enjoy the nurturing embrace of mother nature—I couldn’t ignore the dull, wearying feeling of going through the motions again.
So today I ventured into unknown (to me) territory. The unfamiliar terrain invited me to take things slowly. To meander. To pay attention to detail. The way the giant oak bends and bows its branches towards earth and sky in the most unpredictable angles and directions. The busy hum of insects under a patch of madrones. The zig-zag cracks of sunbaked clay underfoot.
Not knowing where the path would lead, I felt myself waking up again. Arriving at a junction of trails and choosing one direction with no other information other than where my intuition and body guided me filled me with delight.
Eventually, I came to a pasture blanketed in purple flowers. The flowers were so tiny that to really get to know them, I had to get down on my hands and knees. And so that’s what I did. I followed the narrow path leading to the heart of the pasture and sat in their midst. Once at ground level, I discovered I had planted myself in the epicenter of a dancing chorus of bees courting these tiny purple blossoms.
Lazing among the bees and flowers, I thought about how, whether we seek it out or not, life changes us. Life by its very nature is a process of transformation. We can choose to walk the same familiar path, over and over again. But when the path is worn down, when we’ve domesticated it (or, we’ve domesticated ourselves?), what do we do?
Do we cling to our routine claiming “this is the way it always is” (ie, “this is who I am”), or do we venture out responding to the call for freshness?
These past few months have been a bit of this for me. I’ve been letting go of the structures that once held the shape of my life but no longer feel alive to me.
The changes have expressed themselves in small shifts, like no longer having a taste for my morning beet and carrot juice, a routine I’ve had for years. And in larger shifts too. Like the need to step away from familiar faces and places where I once found a sense of belonging.
In moments, waves of vertigo pass through with the question, “How do I know who I am without these familiar anchor points in my life?” There’s been grief too in letting go of what once gave me so much comfort.
Yet in the quiet spaces in between, I get a whiff of a new inner experience emerging. A freshness, like the moments after a spring storm when the world sparkles with sun-kissed raindrops. I get glimpses of the world from a new vantage point, where visions of possibilities that once felt so far away are there right before me. So close I can touch them.
What I’m discovering is that every time I allow some old form that no longer holds energy for me to fall away, I bring myself one step closer to the home and belonging I once sought in those external faces and places. That there really is nothing but my inner connection—to my being, to my spiritual nature—that brings me home. There is no process, no program, no ritual, no routine that can lead me there.
There is simply this: To connect within and to be. And to know that whenever you hear the call to rediscover the freshness of life, this is the call to drink from the inner wellspring of your own heart.
- Sit quietly and meditate on the structures (routines, relationships, etc.) that hold the shape of your life.
- Are there structures you are ready to allow to shift in some way?
- As you breathe slowly, on the exhale, imagine what’s no longer of service to you to gently slip away and into the ground.
- On the inhale imagine your true nature revealing more of itself to you, like a blossoming rose in the center of your heart.
- As you move through your day, consider pausing for a moment, placing your hand on your heart, and reminding yourself, “This is home.”
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