I’ll be straight up with you. Writing this post was a pickle.
Clarity has been like a soap in the bathtub – I can see it but it slips away with every grasp. Trying to write it down has filled this page six times over and led to picking apart.
Only one thing is sure: when the mind falters from yes to no and every shade in-between within the space of 24 hours, it’s definitely not decision time.
This hasn’t been easy to accept. I hate having things hanging over me. ‘To do’ lists sit heavily in the mind, and I never once pulled an all-nighter to meet a deadline. I’d likely have handed it in days before – a useful trait in some ways, but also one borne of anxiety and not a habit that cultivates patience.
At 17, a friend told me I was a person who really did what they said they were going to do. She was right and I took pride in that. When I said I was going to work on a newspaper in Sri Lanka, I meant it, and six months later I was there – even if the whole thing proved a sham and I spent the next few months getting happy on a beach in Hikkaduwa. The key thing was that I did it and followed through on my plan.
While these two traits have their advantages and mean that I’ve traditionally been a person who gets things done, they also have their downside – hiding fear, impatience and a desire to control the path ahead. They leave little room for spontaneity, chance and a natural unfolding of the world around me. Last year I decided to work on that, so when Steve and I left from London, we purposefully set out with no fixed plans, only an intention to try and follow what felt right.
Letting life unfold
It was a giant leap and getting used to that uncertainty is an ever-evolving process, but the fruits are what keep us going. With an itinerary and fixed plans, we may never have never found such locations as Capilla del Monte, Coroico or even San Pancho – places that seemed to find us as much as we found them – not to mention the people we’ve bumped into along the way.
Lately that unfolding has been challenged. It serves us well while we’re on the move. We don’t have commitments to place so going with the flow is a natural course, but when it comes to our retreat centre, commitment is required. We have to make a decision – to choose one place and say that’s where we will be for six months of the year – perhaps not always but for a while at least.
In many ways we’ve found that answer in San Pancho. We’re in love with the town and all it holds – but, of course, it’s not without it’s problems. We have a list of concerns ranging from the trivial (scorpions) to the more fundamental, such as whether or not we want to be so far from home, even if just for half the year. And while it’s tempting to say screw it to all the ‘what ifs’, throw caution to the wind and go with our awesome plan, we know we’re not quite there yet. It would feel rash and this is a decision that deserves time to marinate.
Time to wait and see
This wasn’t easy to admit to. Our plans in San Pancho had accelerated, even going so far as having preliminary plans drawn up by a local architect. We could see our dream forming before our eyes and it was exciting. In so many ways it felt right, but we also know that if it is the best thing to do, it will still feel that way in a year. This is a step far beyond anything we’ve done before and it isn’t a time to rush.
So we’re working on a new set of plans. We want to step away and see our choice from different perspectives – to know how we feel about San Pancho from a distance, and to explore a few more locations. Over the next year, we’re going to continue wandering, pondering and exploring land and dreams.
It’s exciting, but also somewhat daunting. We’re looking for a place to call home on a vast planet with infinite options. We have to look deep inside ourselves, work on priorities, criteria and compromise. We know there likely won’t be an option that comes out trumps on all we want. San Pancho could well be it, and a day will come when that decision can be made, but for now we need more time.
And that’s the hardest part of all for an impatient mind such as mine. Both Steve and I know we want a retreat centre, and if we went with San Pancho, we could have that in less than a year. As it is, we’re not sure when the location will reveal itself. We have to have patience and faith that things will work out.
The middle way
Six drafts and a ton of mind-boggling scans of the mind stream later and I’ve reached a point where I really can say that’s okay. It’s challenging and presses hard against long-term habits, but that struggle feels like a wonderful lesson, and a chance to find a middle way. The long-standing impatience and integrity will see that things stay motivated, while the newfound relaxation will hopefully bring a lightness and natural unfolding to the process. It’s new terrain, and we’re excited about where it will take us.
Thank you for following along – and, of course, for your patience too!
If you’re wondering about the acro yoga photos, I think they’re a nice display of putting trust in the universe that things will work out just right! It’s our new favourite pastime!