Perhaps the greatest gift I have ever gotten was the gift of learning to be still. To be comfortable in my own skin with a knowing that I will be up to the task of whatever comes in my life. It wasn’t always that way. It took a long time, and a lot of work to get there. It’s still amazing to me how much effort it took to stop putting forth effort and just be.
How is that possible? Well, most of us are much more humans “doing” rather than humans “being, “ and I was no exception. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been an active person with an even more active imagination. (Read “brain on hyperdrive.”) Yes, I’ve always been a dreamer, and gratefully so… but it did not come without a price. Great things, great adventure, ideas, people, possibilities, and on and on; were just over that next hill, or around the next corner. It was always “over there” somewhere…. it was always “out there.” Never “here,“ never “now.” Always a future possibility that I had not arrived at yet, or become the person I needed to be, or with the person that would bring all of the magic to life. (Remember, even though a tomboy, I was raised a girl with stories of the required Prince Charming to make my future perfect life come true.)
Oddly enough, as a child I was also taught yoga and how to meditate… although I didn’t realize it until many years later. I don’t think this was done with a lifelong practice or shift in consciousness in mind. Rather, it was the attempts of some semi-hippie teachers at my experimental school trying to get a pack of unruly six-year-olds to the chill the fuck out and give them a break! We were taught movements, and poses, and how to melt like ice cream cones on a sidewalk. All of which I continued to do as I grew up and when life got stressful. (Which was so much more often than it should’ve been.)
But even with those tools, I was not still. Moments of slower perhaps, tastes of what was available to me, but definitely not still. In fact, things sped up to almost lightspeed proportions of frenetic and kinetic energy as I approached “adulthood.” As we all know, things like that only stop when they meet an immovable object. (Mostly true.) And I definitely met mine. (Completely true. But that is a story for another day.)
By my early 20’s I was back in motion again, in a big way… physically, geographically. And I stayed that way for years. I moved from Texas to Hawaii. Many moves around the island, with trips to other islands and back to the mainland as well. I left Hawaii for California. Moving numerous times around the San Diego area and working on the road for several years.
I can hear so many people thinking “Oh wow! How exciting! I wish I could’ve done that! Etc.…” But again, there was a price to pay. Heavier than I knew. Being in constant motion kept me from having to deal with, well… me. It didn’t matter if things got tough in a relationship, I would be off on another gig soon. I could blame it all on the fact that they (whoever “they” happened to be at the time) just couldn’t handle me being a free spirit, or they needed to tie me down. This occurred in friendships, relationships, family, whatever… they couldn’t “let me be me.” Never stopping to think once about what I was bringing (or usually not) to the situation.
All human beings want connection. We want people we can spend time with, get close to, share our struggles, hopes, and dreams with, care about, share intimacy with. We want people that we can count on. Whether that be a commitment to go see a movie or to help you move. We want people that matter to us, and we want to matter to them… more than what’s over that next hill, around that next corner, or the next big gig. I wanted these things too… I just didn’t know it, but I felt it… and I had no idea how to get them.
You see, all of these things are an investment… of time, of energy, of vulnerability, of heart, of being. When I was in constant motion all I could see was what I thought they would cost me. Such a risk to my freedom, creativity, individuality, and opportunities… I couldn’t comprehend that there would be a return on that investment. But I was paying by the bucket loads in loneliness, surface level acquaintances at best, deafening silence, and utterly left only to my own devices (even when I would give my eye teeth for just a little assistance or a kind word.) Somehow, some way, I saw it all clearly one day.
I’d love to say that moment of clarity was all it took… but I’d be lying. I couldn’t even begin to get those things or even make those investments, because I had none of those things to give. I didn’t know how. Painfully, I realized that I didn’t even know how to give them to myself. So how could I ever offer them to another human being?
This is when I started learning to be still. This is why I came off the road. This is why I decided during a visit back to my home town to just stay put for six months to figure out what was next. I learned to listen to that cliché of the “still small voice” inside of me… telling me what I needed. Whether that be food, or a nap, or a run, or even simply a hug. I sat with myself as I cried. About past loves, childhood wounds and traumas, all the dreams that had died, the fears that still ran rampant, the pain, the sadness, the losses, and even the joys and the love. I sat with myself through it all. I showed up. I spent time with me. I got close to me. I shared my struggles, hopes, and dreams with me. I cared about me… and I mean, really cared about me. Not the selfish version of wanting to make sure I got mine… but genuinely cared about what happened to me. No more just taking whatever comes because that’s all that I could hope for, ask for, or deserved. No, I came to know that I deserved whatever and wherever my heart guided me. But I had to be still enough to hear it and feel it first.
That was almost 20 years ago, and I am happy to report that once I learned to give these things to myself, I learned how to give them to others… it happened just naturally and organically. Was it graceful? Easy? No. Do I miss the call of the road? Or the adventure and motion? Yes. But I learned that there were so many other vistas and adventures that I had never even had the guts to dream of. Like the depths of my heart when it comes to those I love. Or what I am really capable of… both mentally and physically. Or the experience that words cannot describe of being completely present for another person. I still get have a passport and I still know how to use it. Only now I get to take me with me instead of trying to escape from me.
All of this comes as I am on the verge of great change in my life. It is possible that in a few short months nothing in my life will look the same. But right now, none of that matters because I live in the right now… not yesterday or someday. What is most important to me is what I am doing and who I am with today. What comes will come… good, bad, right, wrong, or indifferent. I live in the center of me and will be able to thrive no matter what. I am still enough to listen to what I need and follow my heart to where I am supposed to be. From that place of stillness, I can do anything.