~ the middle path ~

Outside the wind is howling
Trees bend and are whipped sideways with her sudden relentless gusts.
The electricity is out.
The house creaks and windows shudder, but it remains solid, stable and still.
Of course, it is only a house, it is not an indefinitely permanent structure. One day it will age and crumble. But it has been well built, so that will take time.
These winds and cold are typical of winter.
Some people complain or even seem surprised.
But they are expected, part of the deal.

Personally, I am not a great fan of long, grey, freezing months. My many years in tropical countries have softened me with their sunshine. But just as I lived there by choice, so too, do I live here now.
I don’t love the cold, but I do love seasonal shifts and diversity. That means I don’t get upset when winter does what she’s meant to do.

But this week has found me wondering – just how often in our lives do we get upset? And why?
How often do we rage against a situation that is completely normal and expected? – The arrival of the phone bill, the parking ticket when we’ve stayed too long, the toast that burned because it was ignored?
How often do we fall into despair at something over which we have no control? – Our aging bodies or the random, reckless
comments of a thoughtless other?
How often are we slaves to our reactions, our emotions, our wishes, desires and wants?

How much energy do we invest in diving headfirst into the distraction of another persons drama, instead of sitting on the sidelines and offering our still, sweet holding to a situation that will ultimately pass?
How often do we swing into ‘saviour mode’ and find ourselves sinking in the quicksand of someone else’s swamp?
Only to realise that neck deep, we can offer no real support?
How often do we race headlong into our random reactions and run forward without realising the consequences for ourselves and others? – The hastily sent text message, the terse tone of voice, the wrong comment, to the wrong person, at the wrong time?
How often do we refuse to admit our real feelings, only to project them sideways, and with slurs of disregard and disrespect onto our partners, our parents or friends?

In the giving of our opinion, in the ushering of our advice, in the overwhelm of our outpourings about others, ourselves, our looks, failings and flaws, we add to the incessant up-swell of an emotional tide that drags us further from the shore of stillness and sweet self satisfaction.
A satisfaction in knowing we are doing our best, or that when we haven’t been, we are ready to take responsibility, to correct our actions and ourselves.
In this swirling sea of emotion and overwhelm, we can become self-righteous instead of self-regulating, self-critical instead of self-conscious and self-absorbed instead of becoming, self-aware.
Unthinking, we can then collaborate with a commercial system and are coerced into yet more consuming – “Our four year old kitchen needs updating, my wardrobe doesn’t include this seasons colours, the latest phone has been released – I really need to have that,” – Do You? Really?

Unaware, we buy into industries that thrive on our lack of self worth and wrench from us a load of our love, money and hope – “You too can look ten years younger when you buy…”
Unconscious, we collectively compete for the attention, acceptance and approval of our peers, our partners and employers – often overworking and overcompensating to make up for our perceived areas of lack. A load of lack that is never lessened, because it was never real in the first place.

With these mindsets and mentalities we can never be satisfied.
No one can ever be satisfied.
Life becomes a bottomless bucket of…
I’ll be better when…
I’ll be happier when…
I’ll be peaceful when….
It is a hard and disparaging place.
And so many of us live here.
Every day.

When I am feeling overwhelmed by this world, or fractious, or unfulfilled, or like my mind is running in fear, I pause and imagine that I have a pendulum inside me.
And this pendulum has a long golden thread, that starts at the crown in my head, and drops down through my body.
At its base, hangs a beautiful crystal, swinging softly, silently in my solar plexus.
This little pendulum represents my sweet spot.
She knows my innermost truths.
She can be trusted to guide me, to tell me if I’m on track or off.
If I am out of integrity or in alignment.
If I am serving my ego, or serving the higher good.
She can swing wildly into reaction and then settle quietly with the correct response.
She helps remind me when an agenda is needing to be followed up, or when it needs to be dropped.
She offers the clarity of a compass needle when I’m navigating uncharted territory, and gentle guidance when I’m feeling torn between uncertain outcomes.
She helps me walk a middle path.
A path of quiet observation and then action.
A path that honours both intellect and intuition.
A path that serves from the heart, the greater body of our family, our work and our community.
It is a path that requires both awareness and attention.
A willingness to accept, and to not be rocked or shocked by winter winds.
To allow and to not be overwhelmed, by life’s inevitable moments of loudness or languish.
To discern and to decide, to not be distracted by our every passing desire for something shiny and new.

I believe we each have a sweet little pendulum inside of us.
And that it reflects our values, our self respect, and our hearts deepest and most honourable love for ourselves, each other and our planet.

Perhaps the next time a big storm blows in and threatens to blow you off course, next time you are called to take action or in the moments just before your react, you simply pause, look inside, and see if you can sense your own inner pendulum and her quiet, ever-courageous presence.

Perhaps you could ask her gently, if she might guide you through that storm, support you through the wild swings and sways of your emotions, and help you harness your inner stability and deep, true sense of self.

Perhaps, in this quiet, still place, you will find some inner peace, and maybe a friend in yourself, to trust and help you on your way, along the middle path.

(c) Chandu Bickford
Artist credit – Lane Jackman