Professional Student of Life
Adventures in personal growth
I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. ~ Wendell Berry
I am in the midst of scary times. Negotiating a divorce settlement. Selling a house. Reinventing myself as a wage earner at the age of 53. Fear lives in my chest like a dense, roiling black cloud. A friend sent this beautiful poem by Wendell Berry called The Peace of Wild Things. Animals live in the moment, while fear is almost always based in an imagined future.
Keeping myself grounded in the present when my mind is careening off “in fear of what my life and my children’s lives might be” is the challenge. Another friend once described a frightening experience riding a motorcycle on mountain roads through dense fog. Terrified at every turn of driving over the edge, she reminded herself of Byron Katie’s question: Am I all right in this moment? How about this one? As long as she was not actually plummeting into space, she was all right. And, moment by moment, they got safely down the mountain.
If something bad is actually happening to you in this moment, you have my permission to be afraid (that’s what adrenaline is all about). But when the bad thing lives in your imagination, there is no action that will bring you relief. The future isn’t real until it’s the present. I’ve been following the blog of a game reserve in South Africa. The young males in a resident pride of lions are being threatened by a pair of invading males, who might very well kill them. There have been several close calls, but the young lions still loll in the noonday shade. They run when they have to, but when danger isn’t actually at hand, they rest in the peace of wild things.
This is what I want. Am I all right in this moment? Then I am all right. As I breathe into it, the dense cloud of fear slowly lifts and drifts away, into the imaginary future.
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