Lean into the Wind
You are part of the web of life, so you don’t need to hold on
so tightly. Ultimately, who you are is awareness itself.
No one has lived your life before. It is an adventure worth taking. But whether you are down on your luck or successful, the same basic fears and dangers can rise up. No one is exempt.
Follow your heart’s values and don’t be reluctant to lean into the wind. Whether you are in the middle of a divorce, a business disaster, loss, death, or on the verge of a huge success, make something good come of it. Our lives are unpredictable, but we always have choices. We are free to respond, moment by moment. Even though you may be anxious, fear is often excitement holding its breath. Let yourself sense life’s vitality, know life’s joyful and painful evanescence, and respond with your whole spirit.
Freedom offers a chance to live fully every day, true to our own spirit and gifts. Don’t be afraid of praise or blame. And whether it is outer freedom, inner freedom, or both—they do come together—know that you can choose to be joyful.
In our busy, overly connected society, our attention is pulled in a thousand directions. Every day we get the whole world’s news with our morning coffee and smartphone. Scientists estimate that there is more information in one day’s New York Times than the average sixteenth century person would hear in a lifetime. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by our electronic tethers which call on us to tweet, post, text, and email at all hours.
Take a breath. Pause. When your life feels too full, being reminded that you are free can be unsettling. It’s OK. Yes, you are free to choose your attitude today—to be grateful, courageous, fearful, bitter, or loving. But more than that, you are free—with all the resultant consequences—to quit your job, start a business, get married or divorced, make a work of art, take in a foster child, travel to a new place, cancel your email account.
Freedom can be absolutely vertiginous. Fortunately, you don’t have to make all these moves at once, or ever. In fact, you have already made the choices you are following. But you are free to change course. Your life is both constrained and free, with limitations and consequences. Follow the law or end up in prison. Drive on the correct side of the road or end up in the hospital, or dead. The best way to handle the vastness of freedom is to quiet your mind and listen to your heart. Your heart will provide the loving, considered guidance to make the best choices, with the deepest, most honest understanding.
You can get your freedom back. Simplify. Turn off your devices and turn on Mozart. Prune your schedule, walk in nature, make fewer commitments. You can envision and create a life with more voluntary simplicity. Inwardly, your feeling of being overwhelmed is increased by worries and imagination. The vision of your self as separate brings fear. But you are part of the web of life, so you don’t need to hold on so tightly. Ultimately, who you are is awareness itself. Zen Master Philip Kapleau assured his students when their boundaries began to dissolve during retreats, “You can’t fall out of the universe.”