Creativity is the Blue Heron within us waiting to fly; through her imagination all things become possible – Nadia Janice Brown
At the center of your being you have the answer. You know who you are and you know what you want. – Lao Tzu
I learned in the business world that after you’ve developed a strategy, there are certain times that are inflection points. This is a time when an external event may warrant you re-looking at your strategy or plan to see if the actions and path you are taking to achieve your objectives are still valid. While I considered myself pretty adept at this skill in business, I never really thought about it in the context of my own life.
This spring, I felt a shift. It took me awhile to understand it may be an inflection point. For awhile, I was feeling like I was caked in a stickiness that was causing me to repeat worn out behaviors and spout tired reasons for doing what I’ve been doing for the past few years. The stickiness was sweet and good. My objectives were targeted toward helping others rather than climbing the ladder in a new career. Noble objectives sometimes make it hard to know you are stuck in the stickiness. My pattern involved taking actions to build credibility in my new endeavors – writing blogs, teaching yoga classes, continuing to take more yoga trainings. But, in actuality I was marking time “doing” rather than “being.” I was frenetically executing a plan I had put in place 7 years ago after leaving a generous corporate job. I was on the path to teach yoga and write in retirement. Sure, I was struggling with whether my results driven ego would really transition to this new service oriented world order with patience and ease, but I was checking the boxes in my plan to ensure success in my new endeavor.
After over 1000 hours of yoga training already completed, and with 2 months to go until graduation from an advanced 3 year yoga training program, I was stunned when all of the sudden people stopped showing up to one of my yoga classes that was the basis of most of my training. At about the same time, my consulting gig which was based on my “corporate” expertise, slowed down after a fast paced few months. I began to question my strategy, my plan and all the doing that seemed to consume my life. Meanwhile, in my spare time, to prepare for a trip to Ireland later this summer, I was exploring Celtic myths. In an on-line course I was taking with Sharon Blackie (http://www.thehedgeschool.org/the-voices-of-the-wells/ ), my interpretation of a question led to a reflection. “What gifts do you have or want to offer in this next phase of life?” “Ha!”, I thought, “if I knew the answer to that I’d be executing my strategy flawlessly.”
As these thoughts were running through my mind, the neighborhood heron returned to our pond. She came for 3 afternoons in a row. While she had visited many times before, it was intermittent and only for short stays. Even my husband noticed her persistent presence and called out. “Honey, the heron’s back. You better see what she wants!” So, I stood and watched her while I recalled that the heron appeared first before a crone told the story of the Well Maidens in Sharon Blackie’s book, If Women Rose Rooted. Briefly, if you don’t know the story already – maidens tended the wells in Celtic times. They gave the water freely to travelers. The water was a gift from the Other World. One day, the Fisher King came by, accepted the water and then raped the well maidens. The land which is closely tied to the Other World became a wasteland after this violent rebuke. (For a much more eloquent telling of the story, please read Sharon’s book cited above.)
I shrugged off the coincidence of the heron’s appearance in my pond and before the story of the well maidens. I proceeded with my life. In the meantime, I also was procrastinating on my course assignment. After a busy three weeks, of travel, a series of nuisance illnesses and unplanned life events, I finally paused and thought about the heron and well maidens. In stillness and quiet, I encountered a piece of myself that I hadn’t quite explored in this way before. Here’s the reflection that I ended up submitting for my assignment.
What I notice is my well is dry. As a Gemini, in a period of transition, I see different parts of myself seeking a working well to tap into going forward. Outside the well, is a young, clear skinned, long haired maiden full of Spring confidence. Hiding inside the well is a scruffy waif, hair in disarray, huddled with knees to chest and arms around the knees against the well wall. Despite her appearance, there is a sparkle and yearning in her blue eyes as she gazes up from the depth of her well. She hides and crouches from a sense of not being worthy to leave the dried up well to share her innate gifts.
As a crone, I see two parts of myself that linger and do battle with each other to this day. The young maiden who has confidently navigated the world of business and bought into the modern description of success, is starting to feel a bit irrelevant. While she still has vibrant and energetic qualities, some days she would just prefer to enjoy the sun as she lounges in the lush green grass with her back against the stone well. The waif desperately wants out of the well but is paralyzed by a sense of dread and worry. She wants to thrive and better nourish herself but she’s clueless on how to proceed. With so much tattered baggage of limited Self-Worth, largely self-inflicted, she cowers in fear that no one will want or accept her gifts, even if given freely. They’ll giggle and laugh at her self-consciousness as she pursues Otherworldly gifts. People closest to her will wonder what happened to the confident, young well maiden.
The crone steps in scolding them both for their nonsensical chatter, begging them to grow-up and just BE. But, she offers no guidance on how to proceed. The crone would like to move forward to nourish and heal these parts of herself that feed conflict and stagnation. In the background, Ego and Worth battle one another with no clear winner in the exchange. The crone sits in stillness like the Heron, waiting and waiting, hoping to find a nourishing gift in the muddy water worthy of sharing with follow travelers along the way.
In business, I was taught that hope is not a strategy. Stillness is often seen as indecisiveness. But, in life, a pause (and a little hope) may be sometimes necessary until the well is replenished. When your well feels dry, what teacher appears to you, what gifts do you bring to the world and what lessons are you still learning in your life’s journey?