As I drive my small van across this profoundly beautiful country, I am alternating between diving into sweet visits with friends and enjoying a solo approach to life. As a house guest it’s been amazing to sleep in a bed, take hot showers, begin the day in a warm space without the need to pack and unpack my kitchen… and as much as my hosts will promote by ability to move at my own pace and take care of personal needs, I quite naturally find myself co-creating life with them… carving pumpkins with the kids, cooking dinner, sharing a morning run, exploring the greater mysteries of life through late night (or not-so-late night) conversations.
It’s a gift to be welcomed into daily routine.
Alternatively, I also crave alone time, space to let my feelings and thoughts take center stage without constraint, limitation, or orientation towards another person… it is on the long drives, the early nights alone in the van, the hikes and rides with Maz (my pup companion), and sitting at the ocean’s edge, that I am able to listen to all that is happening in my own internal currents.
Time in community has ironically brought me more structure and routine… and I have learned that just a little goes a long way. I have also been able to say yes to the invitations of others and find myself engaging in adventures that I would not otherwise seek. On a different note, solo time has allowed me to adapt my schedule or any given moment to allow for whatever is needed, to improve my ability to even know what it is that I am craving.
I am learning in this time how to not only embrace both of these extremes, but also how to know when I need one versus another, and even more importantly, how to find self-care when I am wanting the opposite (perhaps craving the alone time when in the midst of family life, or feeling intense loneliness while out on the road).
Every moment will eventually pass, and sometimes it is remembering this simple fact that can allow us to more fully engage in the present moment rather than just grin and bear it. Allowing ourselves to feel the loneliness because it makes the shared time even sweeter, or to observe the chaos of screaming kids around us because it allows the silence to be a warm blanket. If every moment will pass, how can we embrace the sometimes discomfort of now as a gift? Not trying to fix it, but giving ourselves permission to feel it all. In this context, self-care does not mean escaping the external situation, but rather fostering acceptance of our internal state and even appreciation for it.
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.