Wow. It really seems like we’ve jumped into summer while barely experiencing spring! The weather here in Oregon has been unseasonably warm and dry. It’s beautiful and warm, but a little disconcerting. It seems like the natural world is mirroring the rapid re-opening of the world having released the covid-19 vaccine. People and plants seem to be bursting forth – some a little pre-maturely in both arenas.
How are you feeling with all of this?
If you’re anything like me, you feel torn. On the one hand I am elated to be vaccinated, have the kids back in school, and see a few friends again. I LOVE warm weather and sunshine too. And on the other hand, the uncertainty and underlying sense of dis-ease continues.
Kids (and many adults) are not yet vaccinated, but so many people are tossing masks aside and filling up the calendar with sporting events and potluck plans. I don’t feel ready to jump into a carpool or airplane just yet. But I feel safe about holding a mostly outdoor summer camp in-person. I am absolutely loving the warm dry weather, but I’m really concerned about water availability and fire danger too.
It’s funny, but I feel really vulnerable sharing this because I might not land on the same side of the coin as you. And I don’t want to alienate anyone who takes the time to read my blog.
It’s another reminder of the constant “both / and” of life. Society puts us up against the strong cultural orientation to choose a side, find a story, hold a position, and generally create and maintain a singular “truth.” But this just isn’t the way life – or nature – works.
Sometimes it feels like we’re doing it wrong if we feel both excited and reluctant, or happy and anxious. But I feel both/and ALL THE TIME. Seriously. And I’m willing to bet I’m not the only one.
While spending quality time in nature, I was recently reminded that a little perspective shift is the best way to sit with the “both/and” of life.
Trees are both standing still and growing. Plants and animals make preparations for a drought and take advantage of the sunshine. The natural world is a master of holding everything, accepting what is yet unknown, and still showing up for whatever comes its way. In practice, what this looks like is a sort of natural curiosity.
Getting curious is a gateway for holding the both/and in life. Accept what is and stay open to what shows up. Easier said than done! But I’ve found some questions that help me…
Rather than constantly asking ourselves, “What’s NOT working?” What if we changed the question to “What IS working?” Or try changing the question from “What is missing?” to “What do I have?” This simple shift in perspective makes a huge difference. It takes you from a framework focused on criticism to one focused on curiosity. And it has absolutely transformed the way I look at things – especially my creative process.
The more we see through the fog of stories, polarities, certainties, fear and rage, the more compassionate we can be – with others and ourselves. The more we own our own stories, honor what is, and find what is true for ourselves, the more we can accept the both/and in life. Like all of the best lessons, it’s a practice. But I hope it will help you – and remind me – when we get caught up in the pressures to take a side.
Lots of love and endless gratitude.