Looking back, the most transformational times in my life included terrifying steps into what felt like deep woods with fog so thick I couldn’t see farther than a step or two ahead of me.
At first, wandering through these woods was a terrifying, almost debilitating experience. I felt frozen, stuck in the mud, or lost in the dark much of the time.
Eventually I realized that, though it felt sooo uncomfortable and scary, I was capable of taking the step or two directly in front of me without being able to see for miles or even yards ahead of me.
Immediately post-divorce, I remember thinking that it was even too much to consider a whole day at a time and I started thinking about what I would do for the next ten minutes.
Once I stopped fighting the reality of my limited vision, there was something truly liberating about not having to hold and work with more than what was directly in front of me.
David Whyte’s words were (and always are) a treasured companion during tender times:
Start right now.
Take a small step
you can call your own.
someone else’s heroics.
Be humble and focused.
Start close in.
Don’t mistake that other
for your own.
Start close in,
Don’t take the second step
or the third.
Start with the first thing,
you don’t want to take.
To those of you lost in the dense fog of uncertainty, grief, or despair: you don’t have to know where you’re headed. (None of us really knows anyway.)
Take in the richness, treasures, magic, and mystery immediately around you. Then take one small step you can call your own. It’s enough to simply say yes to the next invitation to breathe, to notice, to keep your heart open through the pain, and to step lightly, tenderly, messily, into your uncertain future.
Walking slowly along with you,
(Note: David Whyte’s voice itself is medicine. I highly recommend listening to him read the whole poem on YouTube or, better yet, his marvelous audiobook What to Remember When Waking.)