The Great Way is a humble, solitary path Leading home; Follow it closely and be guided. How do you know when you are on the Way? When your map no longer serves you. Haven Trevino, The Tao of Healing
In Perpetuum Mobile
“God bless those lovely ladies who hold stillness for us during our nomadic motion, while we learn to carry home within.”
This is the wonderful sentence that my friend M wrote to me this morning. As it happens, I consider her to be one of the lovely ladies who has been holding the stillness signal especially for me. I suspect she was doing this before we even knew one another. I picture her charming arrangement of green smoothie, red kitchen stool and smiling face and feel immediately at home – even when I am on the other side of the Atlantic ocean, sitting in a cold, smelly railway station waiting for a train that is three hours delayed.
Over the last few days I’ve been writing in my notebook about home, in an attempt to untangle why it is that I’ve been moving and moving and moving and moving over the last decade.
The relentless tumult of set shifts is a grand challenge, and quite frankly I have absolutely bloody hated it at times. For the virgoan introvert and semi-retired perfectionist who has a love of alphabetizing books and making neat arrangments of whatever objects are to hand, it can be deeply unsettling. Organic cotton bed linen, well sharpened kitchen knives, loose leaf tea and the satisfying weight of a cast iron teapot are sorely missed when on the road. Beauty and quality, two of my favourite things, are often in low supply in my transient abodes. “NO IT WON’T DO” and “THIS IS HOW THINGS ARE” do a merry little jig in my mind. A battle of stomping feet and graceful sentiments.
With pen and paper, I have explored my own chronic case of Perpetual Motion and drawn three fundamental conclusions on the underlying whys of P.M:
- In order to find, one must seek through movement and pilgrimage.
- In agreeing to be transformed by the experience of living, one also agrees to a period of intense external changes that reflect and illuminate the inner growth.
- A lack of home out there is asking us to explore home in here.
As I have mapped this out, I have also noted that my current environment is quite lovely, quite beautiful. This simultaneous surfacing is no coincidence. In tandem with these ponderings I’ve felt drawn to watching various documentaries on monastic life. This has been a counter-balance to looking back over a year of high-velocity travel and expansion, and an encouragement to draw myself into the stillness and hibernation of winter. This one in particular touched me immensely.
I shared this film with my friend M, and in response she sent me a link to a blog containing a short clip of another monastic documentary. Much to my wonder, this blog (created by another M) articulates beautifully everything else that I had hoped to write about in relation to home. This came as another lovely reminder that even in those moments when the destination seems unknown and you cannot see anyone on the path with you, you are never alone.
This blog post is dedicated to the M I have already met, and the M I haven’t yet met, both of whom have channelled my thoughts and feelings sublimely. Thank you.
Before you were
An uncounted number of scenery changes are now mounting behind me. How long will this continue? I start to feel a little internal wobble, like a snail with a crack in its shell. Home is on my back, in my heart and hands.
I am reminded of this fine creature. It was spring, and I was walking with my favourite fearless nature buddy on the waters of the Olympic Peninsula. This sea snail wanted to show us her own powerful version of the upstream swim.