Paulo Coelho wrote, from his best-selling book The Alchemist, “When you can’t go back, you only have to worry about the best way of moving forward.” Something we all must come to reckon with. Whether we have left a home, a geographical place, a specific season of life, a relationship, a job, a way of seeing or being in the world; eventually these things become a memory and experience of the past. If we are going to grow, expand and evolve into the spacious, and creative people we are meant to become, we must move forward from them.
Often times, moving forward implies that we also must leave things behind, which is why I think moving forward in the ways we are invited to requires a great deal of courage. Moving forward doesn’t mean we don’t bring along all those experiences that shaped us into the new beginnings we are entering, because we do; for better or for worse. There is a circular nature to life, and all things belong and bleed into each other. These experiences have marked us, and they have been holding places for us along the way. But they won’t sustain us forever; we have outgrown them, and we must go on.
As I entered this new year, I couldn’t shake this feeling of real change that is going to take place. And I don’t just think that’s solely for me. A real moving forward from what was, and bravely walking into unknown territory, for many of us. As I think about this forward motion in my life, I think about the things I am being invited to leave behind, and let go of. And sometimes those things in and of themselves leave us, without much of our choosing. Like deaths, illness, people, jobs, etc. However, there is a ritual of letting go and leaving behind all that has been, in order to fully move into the new internal and exterior places that are presenting themselves to us.
What do you need to let go of and leave behind? Are there things you feel you need to actively leave in the past?
What things have been maybe taken from you that you are being invited into leaving behind a little more in this season? How can you be more gracious with yourself in the letting go process?
What things do you feel you are being invited into, in order for you to move forward in your life? Are there specific goals, dreams and desires you have within yourself that you want to bring more into your daily life; into reality?
John O’ Donohue wrote a Blessing for New Beginnings, and it spoke to me in profound ways a couple of years ago when I was transitioning jobs. It felt risky and like entering unknown territory, but it propelled me forward in ways I couldn’t have dreamed of before.
Along with Donohue, the magnificent Mary Oliver writes of the sacredness of ritual and stillness, which I think is the beginning of moving forward to begin with. I had to include her work in this month’s piece, as the world mourns the loss of this precious and fierce soul who left us this week.
May you find the courage within, to move forward into new territory of land and spirit, and leave behind all that has been, remembering it with fondness and gratitude.
For A New Beginning by John O’ Donohue
In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.
For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.
It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.
Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.
Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.
Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.
Today by Mary Oliver
Today I’m flying low and I’m
not saying a word.
I’m letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep.
The world goes on as it must,
the bees in the garden rumbling a little,
the fish leaping, the gnats getting eaten.
And so forth.
But I’m taking the day off.
Quiet as a feather.
I hardly move though really I’m traveling
a terrific distance.
Stillness. One of the doors
into the temple.