Sometimes life feels but a series of transitions. From one day to the next, from one season to another. What we often don’t see until we are able to take distance from the day to day, is that over the course of these rolling transitions evolves a larger arc of patterns, a life of triumph and failures, of learning and growth.
For many people, the past 6 months have felt chaotic, stagnant, a waiting game, rapidly changing…life has felt uncertain. Some have used the time to reflect on career, family, or even life’s purpose, others have widdled the time away with work or a hobby as company. Whatever the circumstance, every person has done the best they could in managing the in ever-changing and exreme circumstances of Covid-19…but then life in today’s world is ever-changing and extreme.
Over the course of the summer, restrictions have eased in many places and some people have travelled or disrupted the routine in other ways; others have chosen to go back to work. Most have changed rhythm at least once during this time, and today, many are in the midst of another change – preparing for the return to school, or a new environment or season from which to learn. The only thing we can truly be sure of is change. It is the very thing we at the same time, are terrified of, and long for.
I’m currently reading the extended works of John Muir, which among other things, has highlighted just what drastic changes have been made to our way of life and the environment over the past 150 years. He was but 11 years old when he left Scotland in a boat with his father and younger brother, leaving his mother and the rest of the family behind. He was given just a day’s notice before they went, for the next morning he was whisked out of school and into a sailing ship, taken a whole new world. Since that day in 1849, species and cultures have become extinct, the once wild landscape that greeted the Muir family has dwindled in size replaced by mega-stores and cheap housing, and the very existence of the national park system of which he helped create, is in jeopardy. Time ticks on, and the decisions we make both collectively and independently can either help or hinder a similar fate for natural habitats in counties and countries around the world. From the perspective of the health of our planet, time is not on our side.
All the same, urgency is not always the impetus to action. Sometimes the pressure to make large changes quickly can leave people like a deer in headlights, frozen and unable to take even one step in a different direction.
I had a wise teacher in graduate school who, over the course of my studies, became a friend as well as a mentor, mainly for our love of good coffee. One day over a choice brew, I was complaining about short project deadlines and my self-proclaimed procrastination, to which he responded, “Lizzie, there is no such thing as procrastination…only percolating, and pouring.”
This idea, that there is constant activity towards a goal going on under the surface that we are contributing to, even without us always knowing it, has stayed with me. In yoga, it’s call Karma.
Karma is both the sum of all the actions we have ever taken, which place us in our individual and collective life circumstance, as well as the deeds we reinforce every moment through renewed thought, word, and actions. This continuously propels us forward through time.
The wheel of time, and planting seeds of various sorts along the way, makes up life as we know it. Understanding when to rest back and let things ‘percolate’, and when to ‘pour’ ideas into manifest form implies a faith in understanding we are not the sole masters of our own destiny, but that we make a significant contribution based on our thoughts and actions. Taking time to consider both the path we are creating as well as how we travel upon it affords the opportunity to walk with grace, to take life’s circumstance in stride; to know we are doing the best we can and to find solace as much in the transitions as the destination. They are, in fact, as interconnected as we are to one another.