Monday, October 31, 2016

A Year in Sedona: An Auspicious Beginning

Chapter 3
An Auspicious Beginning

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes  --
e.e. cummings

          Connecting with friends like Reagan and Betsy Word, people who'd met their muse many years ago, we were emboldened to step into a new relationship with our own muse. Little did we know that would occur in the guise of that sly old deus ex machina known as the annual garage sale. In asking us to get rid of what no longer served, the muse was offering us an opportunity to shift from focusing on ambitions nurtured in the past to finding new meaning in the present. We were about to learn what really mattered most now.

        In Sedona a simple garage sale was an event akin to a spring celebratory festival, eagerly anticipated and massively attended by townsfolk and tourists alike. We had moved here just in time to take part in this not-to-be missed social swap meet that brought out cheerful bargain hunters arriving Friday morning at 7 a.m. sharp, ebbing and flowing in waves throughout the weekend. Divesting of old trinkets and dubious treasures now destined for their own second life in a new home, we smiled at the squeals of delight from the hordes of lucky shoppers. We met over a hundred people in three days and by twilight Sunday evening we'd struck up several new friendships, including our next door neighbor, an animal rescue volunteer who liked cats and said she'd be thrilled to babysit ours next time we traveled.

         It was an auspicious start in every way as we settled into our new neighborhood.  Besides netting a tidy sum, it was of course liberating to say goodbye forever to old dishes, furniture, textiles, clothes and maybe a baker's dozen containers filled with all but forgotten wrinkled papers, moldy documents and certificates, faded photos. All now gone along with the attendant ancient emotional baggage. In this new emptiness it was easier to grasp what was still meaningful. In the wake of the cleansing wave of personal debris now washed away, we floated into the presence of the muse.

         The muse showed itself to be a fearless and friendly eternity, encouraging us to banish once and for all the outworn ideas that went along with the now gone household chattel. What had once defined identity and purpose for us in the first half of life no longer fit. Now in a whole new inner space called the present moment, there was a visceral shift from ambition to meaning. The garage sale could have ended up being an overwhelming descent into a morass of grieving in a vortex of flotsam and jetsam. Instead, now shorn of what had constituted our former lives and identities, we had been given the space to begin living our  vision. Embarking on a contemplative and creative adventure into later life, we had learned what mattered most.

                                             Meeting Your Muse:This Amazing Day

        Free now to embrace the present more completely, we started by connecting with what was just outside our door, the beauty of nature. Hiking in the nearby red rock hills, we communed with the healing sights, sounds and scents of the evergreen forest of pine, juniper and cedar trees. The brilliant blue sky was lit up with a vibrant golden sun whose beams streamed down on the startling shapes and patterns spread over a ring of red rock spires and mesas. A stroll by Oak Creek revealed vistas of ancient rock formations towering overhead, with ceremonial sites used by Native American tribes who'd inhabited these parts centuries ago were still visible. In a context of the thousands of years of life that had been abundant in this place, we experienced a fundamental shift in perspective about past and future as we embraced the present.

             Stories you compose about your present moments carry seeds of courage and creativity for creating a second life. Invite yourself  not to forget you are now in the present moment and you're editing this new life. In choosing to remember what matters most as you shift focus from ambition to meaning there's a simple path to follow.

          Say hello to your muse as you begin to breathe in, breathe out. Hold and release. Love and let go. That's it. Do this for a few minutes until you feel a focus and rhythm forming, know that you're creating a container for calling forth what matters most.
           Then reflect on just a single day this week, focusing on an interaction with one person or people. Call up vivid sensory details that produce a visceral response. Scent, taste, touch, sight, sound? Flowery, spicy, textured, bright, soft? Muse further about the person or people you’ve encountered by describing how your emotional interactions with them felt. What happened to create a mood. What was the mood: Pleasure? Boredom? Nothing?

            Finally, recall just one thing you heard from this person or group that you took home with you. It could be anything. If you encountered zero people this week then just let your own self be the person you write about. Describe a creative moment you’ve experienced, with or without others, that gave you a fresh sense of being in the present moment with aliveness, joy and the ability to create something new.