(In this series, we explore what helps us in the journey from where we are to where we want to be.)
Last week, we talked about two ways to prepare for your new adventure: Build a sturdy boat, and learn how to weather emotional storms. Today, we’ll continue the discussion by asking the question: What stores do you need to carry with you, to sustain you on your journey?
So, item 3. Gather Provisions
The journey ahead of you may be short and simple, or long and arduous. Either way, you’ll need provisions.
* Food to nourish you, to give you strength and endurance. Sweet, clear water to quench your thirst.
* A first-aid kit to help heal sunburn, or to salve the wounds inflicted by sharks, predators, or treasure-guarding dragons.
* Radar or GPS for navigation and guidance.
* You’ll also need to stock up on skills: How to set your sail to catch the prevailing winds. How to use your navigation equipment. How to handle loneliness, uncertainty, resistance, boredom, distraction and other denizens of the inner deep.
Let’s begin with food. The food you carry must be nourishing; it will have to sustain you between ports. To choose which foods you’ll take with you, ask yourself: What do I really love? What makes me feel truly nourished?
Start by making a list of the things you do, and the ways in which you spend your time right now. Write them down. Beside each one, write down how you feel while you’re doing it. And how you feel afterwards. If an activity leaves you feeling zestful and refreshed, if it makes you want to wag your tail and wooohoooo with delight, add it to your store of provisions.
Think back to the things you loved as a child. Climbing trees. Building forts with blankets in your bedroom. Sketching grasses and birds. Playing with your cat, or singing at the top of your lungs, or listening to the grownups around you talk about their lives.
Did you lose yourself in books or get so entranced watching movies that when they ended you didn’t know where you were, for a moment? Did the high bars at gymnastics make your heart flip over?
Try these activities out, one by one. Even if you haven’t picked up a pencil or sung a note in twenty years, give it a try right now.
If, like me, you’re sixty and arthritic, you may not want to climb a tree. But you can find one with a low-hanging branch, wrap your hands around it, and pull yourself up for a moment or two. Feel the exhilaration of climbing into leafy green shade on a hot summer’s day. Smell the sharp tang of sap and listen to the rustle of leaves all around you.
The joy that infuses your heart and sings through your body is your touchstone for what you’ll take with you on your journey.
As for those things in your life that give you indigestion? That leave you feeling queasy or with your shoulders around your ears?
Leave them behind. They’ll add weight without nourishment. On a boat, you can only afford to carry that which makes your heart light and your belly happy.
Water is the essential elixir without which you cannot live. You may prefer other drinks: coffee or tea, juice or wine or 12-year-old Scotch, if that’s your thing. But in a pinch, you can make it without them. You can’t survive without water.
If the things you love are food and nourishment for your journey, connection is life-giving water. When you feel connected with the Sacred, with your inner wholeness, with that which cradles and holds all the different aspects of your self-the adventurer, the explorer, the shy child, the magician, the dragon-slayer, the dancing queen-you can weather the roughest seas, ride out the wildest storms.
Connection lets you know that you’re safe. That you are loved and cherished, that the world you live in supports your heart’s journey no matter how far you sail on the unknown sea. Inner connection is the heart’s blood, the living water of your life. Connection with those you love–family, friends, community, mentors, allies–is just as essential. It gives you the courage, resources, support and strength to see you through.
There are many ways to stay connected. Make a list of ways that work for you, and practice at least one of them each day. You may connect inwardly through journaling or by making music or art. Or through meditation, tai chi, yoga or dance. Maybe your connection comes through prayer some days, and by being out in Nature on others. Maybe you connect by lying down quietly and just being with your selves, listening to what they have to say. Maybe you have a deep connection with the Sacred through rituals that provide rhythm and resonance to your days.
Rituals also strengthen connections with your community. We celebrate and mourn together to feel held, witnessed, supported in our very human triumphs and travails. If you’ve ever sung in a choir, or blessed and shared a meal with your friends, or coached your kid’s soccer team, you’ll know that being in community can uplift you, inspire you, and bring inspiration and support to others. Connection is the heart’s juice, it’s lusciousness writ large.
(We’ll continue with this series on Sailing the Unknown Sea, over the next few weeks. Meanwhile, let’s talk. What healing salves do you carry with you? How do you find your heart’s guidance? And how do you choose who will travel with you?)