The Space for Stillness

“If you are uncomfortable – in deep pain, angry, yearning, confused – you don’t have a problem, you have a life. Being human is not hard because you are doing it wrong, it’s hard because you’re doing it right. You will never change the fact that being human is hard, so you must change your idea that it was ever supposed to be easy.”

Glennen Doyle in Untamed

Space and stillness. Looking back on my life I can see these two ideas often lived in the peripheral of my awareness. With the busy schedule, the to-do list, and the rat race – being still and honoring space simply haven’t been aspects I valued, let alone prioritized. Yet with recent events and the huge shift of, well, everything – these two concepts are easier to attain and at the same time desperately needed.

Everywhere I look, there seems to be a lack of stillness and a lack of space: rash judgements rooted in fear that lead to devastation, actions driven by emotion causing riots that lead to both violence and peaceful reconciliation. “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are,” said Benjamin Franklin. 

Have we reached that threshold? Have we arrived at a place where the hurt and suffering are great enough that all of us are affected? A cry for space – space apart from each other. Space for tears and space for anger. Space to be angry and yet remain safe. When we fill the space with violence we continue the cycle of suffering. When we do not give others space, we cannot find a common ground where we can all stand together.

My hope is that beyond the raw emotions of this space lies a stillness. Within this stillness, I hope we can find a way to move forward – a way to hear others – a way to come together and become better, stronger, braver. 

By listening to one another, questioning and pursuing justice with humility and grace are all avenues which can help us. What will this self-discipline give us? Why seek presence? It gives us awareness and an option to see beyond our own perspective. It provides a map at this threshold.

“Often a threshold becomes clearly visible only once you have crossed it. Crossing can often mean the total loss of all you enjoyed while on the other side; it becomes a dividing line between the past and the future,” wrote poet John O’Donohue in To Bless the Space Between Us.

Summer break has always been a time I’ve used to connect to that stillness. It is the break with inherent space away from alarm clocks and schedules. Yet, in the past, I eagerly anticipated this break. 

This summer there is a sadness that is new to me. There is a feeling of deep and profound sorrow – sorrow for the communities, countries, families devastated by the pandemic –  sorrow for the unsettled year that has passed, and sorrow for the uncertain future. Sorrow for the black and brown communities who have suffered from the systematic racism that has led to so much hurt and harm.

Instead of fighting this sorrow – I will feel it. I will allow myself to feel every bit of it. I will not hide my tears when I see such lack of respect for humanity. I will not sugarcoat the truth from my children. I will not bury my feelings by pretending they are not there. I will learn. I will listen. It will only change when we collectively no longer accept a broken system, and instead rebuild it to serve us better, tomorrow. 

This summer, I plan to travel with my family across the country. We will camp and explore our national parks. My excitement is more than just for an adventure. 

It is rooted around that craving for space, the need for stillness, and the awareness of presence. For in the present, I find the answers to questions I sometimes don’t even know how to ask. I find the purpose of my life in the simple observations of “Now.” When I explore, it is easier to be present in the moment. It is easier to notice that which is right in front of my eyes. 

There is a page on this blog that will be dedicated to our trip. It is under the tab “Soul.” It is called Adventures Across America. I may or may not post regularly.  During this quest, I will remain open to life. I will pay attention to the world around me and yet find space for stillness.

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