Until one is committed, there is hesitancy,
the chance to draw back,
Concerning all acts of initiative
there is one elementary truth
the ignorance of which kills
countless ideas and endless plans:
that the moment one commits
oneself, then Providence moves, too.
All sorts of things occur to help one
that would never otherwise have occurred.
A whole stream of events issues from the
decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of
unforeseen incidents and meetings and
material assistance which no man
could have dreamed would have come his way.
Whatever you can do or
dream you can, begin it!
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.
Gardens offer a meaningful metaphor. Soil is turned under, rich with compost, ripe with worms. Weeds are pulled. Seeds are planted. Sunshine. Rain.
First sprouts . . . *pause* . . . seedlings . . . *pause* . . . flowers . . . *pause* . . . fruit.
The pause between planting and reaping is important. Elapsed time allows for Things To Happen. Fortunately, Life offers variety. Lettuce greens sprout fast and easy, giving the gardener a sense of (near) immediate gratification. The taste buds are satisfied. But the sweetness of watermelon requires patience, waiting, the juicy non-urgency of Time.
In a culture that loves performance, activity, diligent doing, it is easy to overlook the fallow periods, the essential moments of rest and patience and waiting that make growth and activity possible. While the activity of planting and cultivating are necessary, a seed will only sprout when it is good and ready. This is true for our own growth and development as well. Nothing can be rushed. Everything in its own due time.
What eventually grows, in the garden or in the heart, is a function of which seeds we planted in the past. It is a matter of attention. The seeds we sowed yesterday ~ either consciously (by carefully creating furrows in the soil and gently dropping in seeds) or unconsciously (by ignoring last years weeds and letting them spread) ~ bear their fruit in our present.
The same is true in our hearts, minds, and relationships. Therapy is a way of tending one’s inner garden ~ weeding out old thought patterns, sowing new behaviors, fertilizing with lovingkindness, cultivating with mindfulness and self-care, and harvesting the rewards of our efforts and intentions. The seeds that are planted today ~ the stories we tell about ourselves and the world . . . the choices we make (or don’t make) to meditate, exercise, act with kindness ~ show up as fruits tomorrow . . . *pause* . . . or the next day . . . *pause* . . . or the next day.
Whether the seeds we plant grow into flowers or weeds is a matter of attention and intention.
That they will grow is simply a matter of time.
Every breath is an invitation, an opportunity to begin again . . . and again. With each breath, whether consciously or unconsciously, we are drawing into our bodies the inspiration for this particular moment. When we take the time to set an intention, and allow that intention to rise and fall with our breath, we are engaging in a radical process of personal, internal re-organization. Beginnings are important. Intentions are important. Breath is important.
In this particular beginning, I hold an intention of contented equanimity . . . of joyful balance. What does it mean to live a life of balance? How do we aim ourselves in the direction of balance so that we find ourselves ever-so-slightly on its joyful bank? And why ever-so-slightly? Why joyful balance? Why not EXTREME JOY?
It is my experience that Life prefers balance and rhythm over intensity and extremes. To give credit where credit is due, I am not the first person to notice this. The Taoists have long-advocated for going with the natural flow, rather than fighting against it. The Buddha called his path the Middle Way. Time spent in the natural world reveals the Earth’s balanced rhythms . . . spring follows winter follows fall follows summer follows . . .
The heart has ways of finding balance, too. If we spend our lives chasing extreme joy, Life often serves extreme sorrow in its wake. In a sense, we can be forced into balance by swinging radically between extremes. Or we can aim a bit more for the middle, where joy and sorrow still exist but perhaps with less devastating and destabilizing consequences.
The most immediate, inherent, intimate reminder of balance is our own breath. Inhale follows exhale, whether we like it or not. The beauty of the breath is its persistent pulse, its ongoing rhythm of invitation back to this moment, back to our intentions, back to the beginning, again and again. What is your intention as you draw in this breath . . . and this breath . . . and this breath . . . and this . . . and . . .