“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
~Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
Almost two years ago, I wrote an email to three friends with whom I'd had similar conversations about living outside the conventions of society. I had recently become a convert to an Eat, Pray, Love philosophy, soon to discover Eckhart Tolle. The conversations were about living the life we dream of: travel, service, living on the edge and not necessarily pursuing the 2.5 kids or dog, led to the obvious question. "How do we GET there?"
Today I woke with a strong sense of purpose, but of course, no clear plan, I wrote to my friends. My main sense was to ask other women who are of the same mindset, who are finding their own path, to think and dream about what kind of work you want to be a part of, if you could create something and work within it. To start this conversation.
Two years later, I'm still on that path, paying attention to the present moment for hints of where to go, when to turn, when to move, when to be still. The changing of seasons has something to do with our timing, if only I lived where there were seasons. Thanksgiving eve and it was a balmy 75 degrees in Los Angeles today. But I know from living elsewhere that with winter and shorter days one takes more time to reflect, to light candles and fires and dream. (I'll post an excerpt soon from my "learning to winter" in Kosovo.) Perhaps my inner seasonal clock is still keeping track, telling me it's time to slow down, to dream, to envision what I want.
Time to dream about not just how to get there, but how to be there. Right now. Martha Beck writes about timing in this month's O magazine.
"One of the things that changed my mind about timing was the recent book How We Decide, by Jonah Lehrer. The calculating part of the human brain, Lehrer writes, 'is like a computer operating system that was rushed to market.' It's slow, clunky, prone to errors — at least compared with the brain region associated with emotions. This highly developed area 'has been exquisitely refined by evolution ... so it can make fast decisions based on very little information.'"
..."Your nonverbal brain, then, is continuously registering incredibly subtle predictive clues. It communicates with your consciousness through emotions and hunches ... It can speed you up with anxiety or excitement, slow you down with fatigue and confusion, or help you feel balanced and relaxed."
"If you ask people how they make decisions , 'lucky' people will talk about tuning in to information and instincts, while 'unlucky' people often mention pushing away the uncomfortable feeling they were headed for trouble."
How to become someone who pays attention to instinct? Beck offers a few ways to practice being in the present moment. "Ironically, the only way to access your inner guide about the future is to fully occupy the present," she writes.
"Pull an Eckhart Tolle," Beck writes. "Shrink the focus of your attention to this present moment. Are you going through a divorce, bankruptcy, or similarly difficult experience? Maybe — but right now, you're just reading this. Be here now. When you plan, plan here now. Don't preemptively grapple with circumstances that don't yet exist. Living this moment in peace, tuned in to your inner timekeeper, will lay the groundwork for the best possible future." (From O magazine, December 2009)
"There is so much about my fate that I cannot control, but other things do fall under the jurisdiction. I can decide how I spend my time, whom I interact with, whom I share my body and life and money and energy with. I can select what I can read and eat and study. I can choose how I'm going to regard unfortunate circumstances in my life-whether I will see them as curses or opportunities. I can choose my words and the tone of voice in which I speak to others. And most of all, I can choose my thoughts." ~Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love
(Photo: Snowfall Symmetry, CountryDreaming, Etsy)