This series is based on an invitation from Jean Houston to join the Alchemical Path. The steps are hers; the thoughts are mine.
One: Wake Up. Become aware of what works, and what doesn't, in your life, and in your world. -- Jean Houston
"Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens." -- Carl JungI played hooky from unpacking yesterday and headed off to a delicious alpine lake for swimming, photography and sucking warmth from a granite rock like a white lizard in the sun. Jean asks what's working and what isn't in my life and my world. My life is charmed ... I am happy, healthy and have incredible freedom to follow my whims. Sitting with Missy on my deck in the cool morning with my newly-installed electrical outlet waiting in case I over-task the battery of my laptop, I'd have to be an ungrateful wretch to be anything but awed by the perfection of my life.
But, Jean charges us with looking for what's not working also so I dig into that space and come up with two things: equanimity and contribution. Equanimity is one of my words for the year, generally defined as steadiness of mind under stress. I want to learn equanimity. Life always sends us challenges to our equanimity ... I want to be able to face whatever comes my way with calm steadiness. But, I'm approaching equanimity in the same way as someone who wants to lose weight approaches that issue by reading diet books ... just reading, not changing. Meditation is an equanimity practice that I'm not practicing. And, I'm rapidly running out of excuses. Now that I'm basically moved, there is nothing standing in my way.
Back ... since I have no excuses, I decided to do a 20-minute meditation ... even found an online timer so I wouldn't have to go get a clock.
The second area to think about is my contribution to the world. Part of Jean's invitation was to become a Social Artist and she is offering a week-long training in Ashland, OR, in early August. Click here for more info.
I'm not sure I want to be a "social artist" ... but I do want to be an artist who is making a social contribution. While my life is close to perfect, I would have to be among the not-breathing to fail to see the pain, despair and inequities in our world. I would like to make a difference and, somehow, leave the world a little better for my having been in it. For years I have equated making a contribution with "feeding the starving children in Africa." I know that's silly ... it doesn't honor the millions of ways people make contributions every day.
So I want to open up to new ways of making a contribution ... ways that feed my spirit as well as nourishing the world. I've never thought of making art ... my making art ... as anything other than something that makes me happy ... now I'm going to think of it as, somehow, the way I contribute to the world.
That would be a way of waking up.
About the image: Driftwood floating in Mammoth Pool. Last year I bought a Native American flute and this looks like that flute and makes me think: Equanimity.