After much of a month spent in Colorado and Utah at the end of this summer, I returned home to Asheville only to find myself yearning for the big mountains and the aridity of the West. This longing is not new to me. Every so often my love of the geography of the western states comes crashing in, and I wonder why I am digging my roots into the wet soil of the Southeast.
These are the oldest mountains in the world, the weathered and worn Appalachians, where the humidity soaks your clothing and the coves and hollers stay dark in summer...where there’s magic in the mountains and the creeping green of the earth is a constant threat to swallow you up.
One of the curtains in my bedroom stays closed as it blocks the view to my neighbor’s kitchen, and one day many years ago I noticed something poking out from behind it… only to discover that ivy had literally infiltrated my bedroom by about three feet through the window without my noticing, and was beginning to stretch toward the bed. It was a Little Shop of Horrors moment where I felt I was the destined food.
The curvaceous, feminine southeastern mountains of the country…so vastly different from the angular rawness of the Gore range, the Sangre de Cristo range, or the San Juan mountains in Colorado. When I find myself longing for these open spaces, I wonder, am I needing a change in some aspect of my life and so I daydream about these beautiful places as an escape? Or is it that I actually do want to move West again? How do I know?
How do I
These types of questions come up throughout life....
Which school should I go to?
What type of job do I want?
Do I want kids?
Is he the one?
Is this it?
And how do we answer these questions? When we can imagine the outcomes of various options and don’t know which would be better for us, right for us… and then maybe we even acknowledge there is no “right” or “better” because it will be whatever we make of it… how do we know?
A friend recently shared with me something his meditation teacher said: When you get stuck between two conflicting options, neither presenting itself as the one to take, then it’s too soon to tell.
I love this because it helps me do something I am so often not great at: to allow myself time and space to eventually know. If I am anxious about a decision, feeling forced or convincing myself that I just have.to.figure.it.out.already! (insert tense shoulders and jaw)... then I can be sure that I won’t be able to access that internal sense of knowing that I find when I
life to be
what it sometimes is:
A well known, but still favorite Rilke quote that has helped me in these moments:
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” -Rainer Maria Rilke
Go slowly friends, with compassion for your tender heart, and gratitude for the questions.