I’m often asked for some sort of specific how-to for the way I walk in the world.
They want the step-by-step recipe, the blueprint, or the link to buy the book that will tell them the path and the steps you must take in order to embody a sacred and meaningful life.
And I have to say...I get that desire.
I’ve known, all too well, that feeling of searching for inspiration and connection and then seeing it expressed through another being and thinking there it is! That spark of hope and desire inside of you starts burning brighter, and the natural next step is to replicate what you are seeing with the assumption that you will get the same results.
I’ve bought the books, taken the courses, gone on the retreats, and tried to recreate more recipes and other people’s art in an effort to find the sacred expression of ME more than I’d care to admit.
I think it’s important to understand the context in which these desires for a well-laid out path live.
For the past several thousand years, we have lived in a system that has valued competence over seeking. When one is “competent,” they are more likely to beat out the competition. Competition is the hallmark of modern day capitalist society. So this need to control how we present our expertise can feel directly related to our own survival.
So what does this control for our survival look like?
Fear of failure.
Fear of getting it wrong, so why bother trying.
Discomfort with our own creative and spiritual impulses to express ourselves and our connection to everything around us.
What’s helped me overcome this inner default to “ever present competence” is to prioritize learning over knowing.
Not the kind of inner knowing that is connected to your intuition, but the kind of capital “K” Knowing that is more about being right than being in connection or love.
My entire life has been filled with different seasons and modes of expression that make up the body of work that illustrates all the facets of my aliveness. There were the jobs and the projects and the artistic mediums I tried that helped me realize who I was and who I wasn’t. All of them are like little shiny sparks of aha! and yessssss and NOPE that line the trail I am blazing on my own as I walk through my life’s journey.
It’s a hard but important reframe to move from knowing to learning, but when engaged with care and love, is very powerful for coming into a more joyful experience of living.
A process that has helped me unhook from perfectionism and doing-it-right-itis is making nature mandalas.
It’s a beautifully meditative experience that looks and feels completely different every time I do it. Sometimes I gather materials on a walk in a nearby park. Other times, it’s using flowers from a wilting bouquet on my dining room table. This particular time, I was inspired by all the abundant life in my home garden (and my neighbor’s lavender in her front yard - shhhh don’t tell!).
I also find that I approach the process differently each time. Sometimes, I go into mandala creation with a question or an intention - seeing it as a sacred altar for a season or occasion. Other times, I create with a blank slate in my mind - simply wanting to be inspired by natural beauty and what is possible in the moment.
I allow the materials and my hands to do the work, and let my mind take a little break from running the show. The best part is, when it’s done, I usually let the wind (or sometimes my dancing feet) mess it all up - reminding myself that I am an ever flowing well of creativity and sacred expression.
Music by my friend Shawn Barry
So, as you continue to walk your path and layer in all the experiences that make up the body of work that make up your sacred life, I invite you to reframe any desire you have to be perfectly competent towards the wisdom of being a lifelong learner.
Perhaps a little nature mandala will do the trick.
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