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I have written several posts this month (January 2012) that focus on my tendency towards impatience and how that plays out in the many facets of my life. Being close to the wildness and flow that is found in natural settings like forests has always been an inspiration for stillness, calm to enter my life. Water flowing in creeks, rushing roughly in waterfalls or just gently flowing in bodies of water stimulates quietness in me that I love. It is a way for me to achieve a sense of patience.  It is about reaching a place where I am able to wait for things to unfold more naturally and with less interference or effort. It is about being content with stillness. It is about learning to be with the magic that is this life.

We can sometimes get a sense of how content we are by noticing how restlessly we are searching for new things: adventure; material objects; relationships; power; status; money and so on. This can be difficult to observe as it is so commonplace in terms of expected behaviour in today’s society. We are always running after some new thing, new goal, new achievements and on and on.  The push to make plans for the future, to save money for the future and constantly improve ourselves is ever-present. We are supposed to have plans for the future.

If our plans for the future are not drastically different from our normal activities this could mean that we are content with the way things are. That by no longer searching for new and more we have reached a point of contentment. This may appear to be the same as being patient or reaching a point of stillness and thus be seen as success.  Through a western world lens of outcomes and goals an endpoint of stillness may look like an accomplishment to be strived for.

From my perspective stillness by its very nature is not something to be accomplished but is a way of travelling along the journey. The water flowing in the creek or in the waterfall prompts stillness yet it is the flow, the movement of the water that is doing the prompting. If the stillness were to be achieved and checked off as completed the flow would be gone. If we grab onto stillness and hold on tight we lose it.

an impasse?

This is a long way of getting to the idea that if we believe we have reached a point of stillness and contentment in our lives we may in fact have only reached an impasse.  An impasse of the potential for progress through the journey of our lives. We may be mistaken by the lack of searching and believe that this is a good thing, that we have reached a pinnacle of stillness or calm. I challenge this notion and wonder instead if it could indicate that we are allowing our level of comfort to block our progress or any challenge of the status quo. Rather than viewing stillness and patience as an avenue for relaxation and reduced activity perhaps could we see it as a tool to help us move into a broadened perspective and participation in the world.

Can we see stillness as a mechanism to bring us closer to an expanded awareness? Is there value in moving beyond a position of comfort to consider the broader world? Can our level of contentment support us in that venture?


Irene McDermott © 2012