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Photo by YAT OP

Photo by YAT OP

Sometimes I find myself out of balance.

Today, for example, I came into my room — the place where I light my incense, still my mind, perform acts of reverence and celebration — and I found myself uncertain about how to begin.

My mind was a repository for too many things. There was clutter everywhere.

Thoughts about music…

Thoughts about leadership…

Thoughts about love and relationship…

Thoughts about the responsibilities I’ve taken on…

These things clouded my mind, and made it very difficult to listen.

Listening, I’ve come to learn, has to happen first before any meaningful creation can occur. (This is why I prefer a silent space in which to write.)

I find that I don’t often know what to do when I’m in these moments of crowded-headedness. My first impulse is to try to organize the mess. (Not eliminate it, mind you, but organize it.) This rarely leads to resolution; instead, I feel little more than a mild sense of productiveness. I feel like:

Well, at least I’m doing something.

Other times I open up a browser window and find something to read. I scan Facebook, or I look at the comments on a post or a status update. I engage with others and allow the dozens of freeze-frame conversations to be my focus. I chat about someone else’s writing, someone else’s ideas, something mildly stimulating or (at times) completely engaging. Doing this feels like:

Well, at least I have something to say.

There are other ways I distract and occupy myself, but none of them seem to address what’s really going on.

And just what is really going on?

I think — and it’s a hunch more than anything — that in these foggy-brain moments I have forgotten, however briefly, what it is that brings me into alignment with my deepest, greatest sense of happiness and purpose.

(a.k.a. My True Will.)

I don’t know how to take that first step into the labyrinth because I have forgotten why taking that step is meaningful.

This morning I wrote the following update on Facebook; writing it was an attempt to kick-start my creativity after the first draft of this post petered into self-pity:

Each day we begin again. Each day we must make decisions about how to live, how to connect, how to release, how to create. Living is an art, even if at times it feels like little more than a struggle.

Being present with our own creative nature — the place where our humanity comes to look very much like something divine — helps us to be artful in our living.

How do you begin each day?

I wrote these words and realized that by reaching out to others, I care for myself. There is a connection between outreach and inreach (that should be a word), between service to others and service to myself, between the compassion I show for my community and the compassion I offer to myself.

These things are connected.

My mother used to tell me that when I felt sorry for myself I should do something for someone else. For the longest time I thought that her advice would have the negative side affect of fostering denial about what was really troubling me, but I think I was wrong. Turning my focus to the well being of others reminds me of what “well being” feels like. That act of turning outward has a profound and amazing affect on my own inner reality.

This isn’t to say that I shouldn’t sort some things out in my own head, away from the view of others. I certainly have my own work to do. But it’s a reminder that in moments of frustration or confusion, or when there is a lack of space in one’s mind, there is a great benefit in becoming a servant to others.

Turning outward in service is — I promise you — a service to yourself.

Each day we begin again. I begin with a mind and heart of service, and by showing love and compassion for others I receive the benefits of love and compassion in my own heart. I encourage creativity, and in the process I experience creativity. I remind others of the artful nature of living, and I am graced with a glimpse of the art in my own life.

This is how I began today.

How will you begin?

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