I once asked Spirit whether They ever get disappointed that their good intentions, hopes and aspirations for humanity are so often foiled. Spirit replied, ” We never completely fail, nor do we ever completely succeed. Its a bit like two steps forward and one step back.” The year that is about to draw its final curtain has been that kind of year. Two steps forward and one step back.
This year I have tasted pure unbridled freedom by selling our family home, packing a bag and travelling to Israel for almost six months. We travelled wherever our heart took us, eating whatever our taste buds longed for, sleeping only when tired and connecting to someone or something new everyday.
Finally believing I was no longer attached to ‘things’, I celebrated my grand spiritual leap forward. I had conquered attachment, or had I? In all that excitement, I overlooked one small thing.
Even though I was arriving back to Australia, the land of my birth and the place we had raised our five children, I was not actually coming home, for there was no home to come back to. Yes, were aware of the practicality of this and had been kindly invited to stay with friends… but we were not coming home.
Returning in July, I imagined my spirit would simply fly me to another delicious adventure until our new home, bought off the plan eighteen months earlier, was complete. House-sitting soon lost its glamour when the distance from my children became more than I could handle. What was I thinking when we had agreed to live at the furthest eastern point of Sydney, so far from my children, grand-daughter and 100 traffic lights away from all that was familiar to me. Hours spent in the car between arrangements that were long distances from each other reminded me of the importance of having a place.
All the letting-go of the past months, all the simple pleasures of walking in an orchard, drinking coffee in tiny cafes, meeting friends at midnight, discovering new places of antiquity were over. Having nowhere to invite family and friends was a challenge. Nowhere to hang a painting. No space to leave a little messy. Nowhere to call my home. At least I was not running away from violence. I was not trying to find a better life for my children. I knew I had so much to be grateful for and yet I felt displaced, ungrounded and a little confused. I felt regretful that we had not planned our return better.
Over the past six months we have moved six times. From rediscovering our roots in the first half of the year we gave ourselves the opportunity to feel completely uprooted. This is an unexpected gift. When you have no place to call your own, life becomes very different. We become more vulnerable, more alert and more grateful.
Why do we invite big challenges into our lives? How easy is it to move from elation to despair? What can we use to bring stability and balance into our lives when everything around us seems to be in a state of uncertainty and discombobulation?
In the past six months, life has taught me three important lessons:
1. Without taking risks and inviting ourselves to experience challenges, we would never discover how amazingly strong and resilient we really are. Without falling we would never know how to get up and try again. Without failing we would never discover new and diverse ways to overcome our challenges.
2. Happiness, success and elation are temporary. Happiness happens but only sometimes. Emotions are real. We all have them and one of the keys to a well lived fulfilling life is to feel them and to accept ourselves at the same time. Life is up and down. The heights and the depths can even out over time and the trick is to practice not to judge the highs as being better than the lows. They are what they are.
3. Balance requires movement. Even the most experienced tightrope walker will fall if he stops moving. You have to have opposition in order to have balance. And so chaos is essential to learning a balanced life. And although our inner Balance is never dependent on the external physical unless we are fully enlightened beings, we will be influenced, even a little, by the circumstances in our lives. The trick is once again to refrain from judging ourselves in the process.We find balance somewhere between shadow and light. We sometimes need to step into the shadow as part of our journey. Sometimes we overshadow ourselves and in doing that we give ourselves the opportunity to discover more about ourselves. Carmen Warrington, in her book Who Am I, writes:
I am a Pendulum: I seek balance always. In my quest I swing from one side to another, sometimes wildly and seemingly out of control. I must explore both extremes and all points in-between or I will be pulled later to what I have not already investigated. The still centre, which I crave, is the result of visiting all possibilities, all extremes.
Until the polarities within ourselves are recognised and accepted, we will always struggle to find harmony and balance. And so, as this year of trials and joys and tribulations and tests and losses and gains comes to an end, I wish you all the blessings you wish yourselves. May the year to come bring us all self acceptance, self patience, self kindness and self compassion. May we pass our wisdom onto all we meet by simply being who we truly are.
And remember, two steps forward and one step back, is just the way it is.