Thursday, October 24, 2013

An apprenticeship in contentment

Today, as we were hiking together, I pondered the beautiful words of Katrina Kenison in Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment. "All I know for sure is that I don't want to spend any more of my days filling them up. (...) but the answer to "What's next?" isn't to be found in more movement, but less."

"Why do you want to keep on traveling?, asks my friend." "Why not?", I answer with a smile. It's easy to convince myself that I want to travel because it's fun, educational and simply because we have a job that allows us to do so. But I know way too well, just like Katrina Kenison writes: "that in order to go, I first need to learn how to stay. If I'm to step out of my comfort zone and challenge myself in new ways, I have to be willing to be fully present right where I am. Before I can move forward in my life, I must take the time to go down into it, to deepen it."

The Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön suggests that we try exchanging our intense desire to be comfortable for a willingness to be curious instead, opening ourselves to both the bitter and the sweet experiences in life, the light and the shadow. "If we're committed to comfort at any cost, Pema says, as soon as we come up against the least edge of pain, we're going to run; we'll never know what's beyond that particular barrier or wall or fearful thing."
It's a common theme to hear travellers say they travelled to find themselves. Others do so to try to escape something, but soon find out that they cannot run from themselves. Katrina Kenison says: “Now I see that the journey was never meant to lead to some new and improved version of me; that it has always been about coming home to who I already am.”

And here I am, very different from the young adult that made decisions quickly to escape the ache in her belly, a feeling deeply rooted in anxiety. Once anxiety was under control, I could for once in my life make a decision that was not simply a reaction to the fact that the current situation felt intolerable. I was truly free.

I am making peace with my impatience and intensity, trying to sit still with my non clarity, my desire to make a decision about what is around the corner. It's a first. And in times like these, I notice that less movement is better than more.

**All the photos were taken with a Nikon 105mm f/2.8 Macro lens, borrowed from a friend. I always do my post-editing in Lightroom 4, mostly with the VSCO film products.


Anonymous said...

I enjoy all of your posts... you're writings are touching...

Joanna said...

c'est vraiment magnifique ce billet!
ces photos qui parlent tellement de ce mouvement que tu vis. cette nature qui est si "ancrée", calme, silencieuse, juste présente.
vraiemnt les images sont superbes.
et que dire de tes mots, de ce qu'ils signifient! tout un chemin parcouru, un immense chemin vers toi meme. cette phrase est juste fantastique:

"It's a first. And in times like these, I notice that less movement is better than more. "

Il y a un début, et puis une suite. ce livre a l'air d'être vraiment FAIT POUR TOI! c'est vraiment ce que je voulais essayer de dire qd on s'est vues ms j'avais pas des aussi beaux mots que cette écrivaine.
La beauté est ici partout, avec nous. et je ne suis vraiment pas inquiète qu'un jour, il y aura d'autres voyages. je suis heureuse de lire que pour l'instant tu entammes un pélerinage majistral: celui vers toi-même.

je pense à toi mon amie! quel noble parcours, parfois ardu, tu as entrepris! Bravo Cath, tu peux être fière!

Francesca said...

i love reading your introspective posts.

Catherine said...

Thank you friends... sometimes I wonder if I am not to self-absorbed in my posts... I appreciate your feedback.

Merci, Jo! Ce que tu écris me touche beaucoup... tes commentaires me font vraiment plaisir. T'es ma plus grande fan!!

Marianne said...

Magnifique, Catherine! Les pensées, les images... J'admire tes billets. Oui, ils sont personnels, mais justement! C'est ce qui les rend intéressants. C'est tellement plus facile parler des autres, ou de la météo! Tu devrais vraiment écrire un livre. :)

lored said...

Catherine ton post est vraiment inspirant. Tu n'as pas idée de combien il me touche précisément dans ma vie actuellement. Merci pour toutes ces réflexions que tu partages avec nous.
Ce que tu as écrits est particulièrement percutant et émouvant.
Et je ne parle pas des photos.
Merci merci merci :-)
Je t'envoie plein de belles pensées

ahoy.jenni said...

What a great post. So true for me too, I have always run from the anxiety in my belly. Such an important thing to teach your children, to sit with that anxiety, indecision and to let it be, to go through it somehow to come out the other side.
Your kids are lucky you are their teacher!

Catherine said...

Marianne et Laurence : merci!

Jenni, thank you for your kind words. My girls are such great teachers for me too!