David Whyte, one of my most beloved poets, says, “The motivational speakers and self-help books are all wrong: there is no way of creating a life where we are full participants one hundred percent of the time. There is no way of being fully human without at times being fully stuck or even completely absent; we are simply not made that way. There is no possibility of pursuing something without coming to terms with all the ways it is impossible to do it.” It seems to me David has a point.
As I see it, most of life’s ventures – whether it be discovering your work, getting married, conceiving a child, birthing a baby, rediscovering your partner, developing compassion, feeling well in your body, connecting to your Self and to Spirit – enter into the cycles of visitation and absence. Though it’s tough to be out of alignment with your own inspiration and creativity, it is part of the ebb and flow of relationship.
I recently went to a Waldorf lecture with a brilliant and dynamic teacher named Eugene Schwartz. He said that at Waldorf, they believe when a child is first learning something new, that it is just as important to forget what has been learned. At other schools in the early years, the walls are covered with letters and numbers to help stimulate memorization. This way of learning fosters a disconnect because it strengthens the muscle of rote memory. But it is in the forgetting that our innate wisdom is contacted and where our true learning occurs.
I forget all the time. This past year has been an odyssey in remembering how to be a balanced human being. After having a child and giving the majority of my chi to mothering, I plum forgot what it means to be feeding all the other parts of my life that bring fulfilment. I am also discovering that I forgot what it is to be in an intimate partnership with my husband eleven years into our relationship. This newest language of intimacy that aligns with the maturity of a seasoned marriage is what we are in the process of creating.
Perhaps you can’t remember what it is to be intimate with your partner or you’re trying desperately to find value in your work. Or maybe you don’t feel at all connected to the meaning of your life. Feeling far away from what we want, tells us one of two things about ourselves: that we are longing for something more or that we’ve lost our way. Forgetting and disconnecting are places where many of us visit and some even reside. And though it is painful to live in the desolation and dryness of feeling astray, it serves an important function. It is the place of forgetting that can take us into the darkest, most difficult shadows of our psyches. And it is here, where we can develop a relationship to our deepest reservoir, our muse, our inspiration.
Is it possible that for most of us balance itself is only a beautiful untenable myth? The question is not how do we stay motivated or inspired. It is how do we begin to trust that the forgetting of who we are, and the loss of meaning in our lives, is in itself, the rich soil of discovery. It is this terrifying yet sacred ground that invites us in to rediscover our vision. The emptiness is the gate that opens us into the lush forest of our fertility. However, not without meeting our shadow. The immobility and the feelings of, “I don’t know how to do this”, or “there must be something more” is a necessary part of the journey. Next time you feel lost, take a moment, breathe it in, and trust that even in the abyss, just maybe you are exactly where you’re meant to be.