Here’s a truth about life, about trying to grow and evolve, become generally better at being us: the journey is not always fluid or smooth. The journey, sometimes, sucks.
I was reminded of this today, when I briefly tuned in to a recording of Tara Brach, noted psychologist and meditation teacher. She was giving a talk on trusting in our own evolution, having faith in our individual growth. Yet, she began the talk by saying she and her husband had recently gone on a meditation retreat together, an annual tradition for them. When they were relating their experiences, her husband shared that he hadn’t felt well during the entire weekend. For him, the retreat had sucked. Brach laughed as she was recounting the story, but went on to say it was good that he could be so open and honest.
It’s true that even if we are moving toward some form of betterment, our progress is not always palpable. You may hit bumps, you may get stuck in ruts–potentially one after another. The point is, you’re still on the road.
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Those ideas tie into another I’ve heard, this one from Natalie Goldberg, author of the best-selling book for writers, Writing Down the Bones. A line of Goldberg’s has stuck with me throughout the years. You have to slow to grow–your writing, your awakening heart, or whatever it is you’re attempting to evolve. I try to remember it whenever my life has slowed to a crawl or even come to a standstill.
In contrast, life usually moves so quickly, doesn’t it? Information flies at us from multiple angles–from texts and emails to social media and the never-ending maze of Google. My husband has mentioned on more than one occasion that he can barely watch certain TV shows, because they cut between shots too quickly and end up giving him a headache. Have you ever noticed how images and sounds bombard you during television commercials or when you’re plugged into the internet?
Where is the quiet in our daily lives?
Where is the time for us to decompress and digest?
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Honestly? It’s probably in the ruts. In fact, maybe that’s why we fall into them–because, on some level, we are desperate for a pause. Then, why not just choose them? Opt for a break on our own? Because ruts are scary. We know we can get stuck in them. This is true enough, but maybe it’s our fear of the rut that makes it deepen and become seemingly inescapable. As an alternative to getting stuck, we can choose to let the rut play out. We can look around while we’re stopped, acknowledge our situation, and see what the pause can teach us. Maybe this is how we find the strength to climb back out.
Anybody up there? I don’t think this is a rut anymore.
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I’ll be honest, I’m a chronic rut avoider. I’ve repeatedly heard myself say the words, “As long as I’m making progress, I’m fine.” Yes, the traffic jams of my life tend to cause me some pretty deep frustration, yet over the years, I’ve begun to appreciate that there may be something to them.
It could be that the pauses happen because we’ve been heading down the wrong path and something in our subconscious says, “Stop. You need to find a different way.” Maybe these pauses simply offer us a chance to breathe, so we can regroup and become re-energized; maybe they allow us to process and reflect on our journey, so we can bring a new level of awareness to the road ahead.
Sure, life has its ups and downs. It has its ruts, too, but maybe they don’t suck as much as we think.
Maybe, stopping for a bit is its own kind of progress.
I think I’d like to stop here awhile…
Image via Unsplash/Drew Geraets
*You can find the link to Tara Brach’s talk here. (She’s fantastic, if you haven’t had the chance to listen to her.)