I have a confession to make: I have never actually been up in a tree. I am more of a ground squirrel, you see. It is about time that this changed, so I asked a friend – who is excellent with this sort of thing – to help me. “How about tomorrow?” he said. “Well, that seems a bit soon,” I replied, as I tried to think of a valid excuse. “Tomorrow it is then!” So the very next day I found myself at the foot of a beautiful beech tree, feeling weak at the knees. “Did I mention I have a fear of heights?” I stuttered. But I was here now and might as well give it a go. The first two meters or so were difficult, but once I got the hang of it I discovered that I LOVE climbing trees. I learned that sometimes fear is just an illusion that we create ourselves and then get tangled in. When we let go of the illusion, our fears disappear like snow melting in the sun. The experience also taught me that I should really embrace Pippy Longstocking’s motto: I have never tried it before, so I think I should definitely be able to do it.
When you live in paradise, you need never go on holiday. My little house at the beach is everything I could ever dream of. For the first time in over a year, I decided I was longing for a change of scenery and so I went on a little trip to the Veluwe woodlands. There is something about leaving everything behind – if only just for a moment. To discover unfamiliar territory and venture into an unknown world. When I arrived, it was still warm and so I headed out for an evening walk. The world was covered with rhododendrons in every colour of the rainbow. I followed a little stream into the forest and noticed something moving in the first tree I came upon. Lo and behold – it was a tiny red squirrel. I sat down in the grass beneath her. In this moment away from the hustle and bustle of daily life, I let all of my dreams flood over me. It allowed me to zoom out and see the bigger picture – how far I have come and what is still ahead. To dust off my compass and see the direction it’s pointing towards.
Things change. Something that used to work perfectly for you, suddenly doesn’t anymore. For a while you keep thinking: if we could just get back to the way it was… But there comes a point where you have to surrender and accept it. To cut the dead wood and trust the magic of new beginnings. Case in point, I’ve made the decision to leave my (very steady) temp job. I used to love having to go into town every afternoon, but lately it’s draining my creative energy. It wasn’t until I was started reading The Magical Approach by Jane Roberts that I understood why. The book explains that creative time follows the rhythms of the earth, the seasons and tides of nature. But our society is based on production time, you know, nine-to-five-assembly-line time. It is based on the principle that each minute is valuable and most be devoted to work. But, as the book reminded me, relaxation is the champion of creativity – not its enemy. For inspiration you need empty time, where time is allowed to flow.
I’ve been reading a lot of inspiring books lately. The Creative License by Danny Gregory and Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert among others. But a true revelation was Jacob Needleman’s Time and The Soul. The book is about how we waste the time that is given to us. It describes how we keep getting caught up in the drama of our life: we end up in the same kind of situations, with the same kind of people – just circling the same point. When we could be on our way, discovering the path that lies before us. Reading these passages, it hit me hard. I could suddenly see all the themes that dominate my life: wanting to be loved, obeying my teachers, getting stressful jobs, ignoring my own needs in the process. You know, the usual stuff. I spend all my energy on cleaning up the same mess, over and over again. Every time I say yes to something that doesn’t fit my wants or needs, I give away my precious time. So, what’s the answer? Go confidently in the direction of your dreams, said Henry Thoreau. In my experience it is not that easy. But I do believe it’s the only way. For else, we shall have wasted our lives.
When we learn to work with our Inner Nature, and with the natural laws operating around it, we reach the level of Wu Wei. Then we work with the natural order of things and operate on the principle of minimal effort. (…) When you try too hard, it doesn’t work. Try grabbing something quickly with a tensed-up arm; then relax and try it again. Try doing something with a tense mind. The surest way to become Tense, Awkward, and Confused is to develop a mind that tries too hard – one that thinks too much. The animals in the Forest don’t think too much; they just Are.
Tao of Pooh