“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Security does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than exposure.” ~Helen Keller
I have koi ponds in my back yard that I inherited from the former owner. This past weekend brought our first freezing weather, so I had to take the first step of starting to prepare the ponds for winter weather by bringing the tropical plants that normally live in the pond inside to live in big plastic tubs of water for the winter. As part of this process of transferring the plants indoors, I drag them out of the water to let them drain, cut them back, trim away the excess roots extending out the sides of the pots, and clean out dead leaves, algae, and other debris from the surface of the pots.
As I was doing this for one of the biggest of the plants, I discovered an area on the surface of the pea gravel in the pot that was shiny. A little investigation revealed that this was a small frog that had taken refuge in the dead leaves that had collected at the base of the plant stalks.
On the one hand … on the other hand…. Most of my pondering (on just about any topic) makes ample use of that phrase. On the one hand, this can make it very difficult to make a decision because I am able to see both sides of an issue. On the other hand, it makes it easier for me to understand others’ points of view because I can hold the tension of seeming opposites in my mind.
Lois Tverberg talks about the fact that Jewish thought tends to rely heavily on this type of thinking in her chapter “Thinking with both hands” in Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus: How the Jewish Words of Jesus Can Change Your Life. (On the one hand, I can imagine that my readers may be tired of hearing about my thoughts on this book. On the other hand, it is due back at the library, so I need to explore these thoughts while I still have it with me.)
While I have often viewed this tendency of mine with a great deal of frustration because of the challenges it causes me in making a decision, she points out a number of benefits to this way of thinking that are helping me to embrace this pattern’s usefulness.
“Go jump off a cliff. Don’t go near the cliff and contemplate jumping off. Don’t read a book about jumping off. Don’t study the art and science of jumping off. Don’t join a support group for jumping off. Don’t write poems about jumping off. Don’t kiss the ass of someone else who jumped off. Just jump.” ~Jed McKenna
I took jump off an enormous cliff about six months ago now when I quit my full-time job. I’ve been remarkably blessed with the way that has turned out. I jumped, and a net appeared in the form of the part-time position I currently have, which is better than anything I could have dreamed up for my present situation. It’s taught me a lot about trusting the universe.
Now I find myself ready to jump off a cliff again, and I feel like I’m back to square one. When I jumped off a few months ago, I was jumping away from something into the unknown. Now I’m jumping toward something (the beginnings of self-employment), and even though it is still in many ways jumping into the unknown, it feels completely different.
It’s interesting to me to note how the fact that I have been feeling so joyful lately is actually causing me a little anxiety. I’m noticing two different ways this manifests itself and each one is tied to an underlying belief.
“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.” ~Meister Eckhart
I’m having one of those days where my heart is just overflowing with gratitude for all the many gifts I have. Today has been a day filled with many blessings of all kinds. Continue reading
“The secret of happiness is freedom. The secret of freedom is courage.” ~Greek historian Thucydides
I recently followed a Facebook conversation in which people were asked to supply a word that meant success to them. Of all the words mentioned, I discovered that freedom was the one that resonated most with me. For me, being successful means that I have the freedom to do the work that I believe I am called to do and to live life in such a way that it will feed my soul in order to give vitality to my work.
As I continue to ponder what my career future will look like, I repeatedly find that the ideas that draw me most are those that offer this kind of freedom to walk my own path. I know that this kind of life will be challenging and uncertain. I’m not altogether confident all the time that I can find a way to make it work. But I am becoming increasingly certain that any options I consider absolutely must meet that basic criterion for me to be comfortable moving forward with them.
“I laugh when I hear that the fish in the water is thirsty. I laugh when I hear that men go on a pilgrimage to find God.” ~Kabir
As a small child, I once asked my mother why God bothers us all the time. Obviously puzzled by the question, she asked where I’d gotten the idea that he bothers us. I reminded her to the hymn we often sang in church where the chorus included the words “No, never alone, no never alone, He promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone.” (Never Alone, lyrics author unknown) By my reasoning, my brother was bothering me when he never left me alone, so clearly God was promising to bother me all the time too!