It is a Sunday. I am sitting in bed, computer in my lap, surrounded by my husband and his computer, and my daughter and her book. We are all sick with the flu; taking turns sneezing, coughing and moaning. The sad thing is that my husband just said: “I like days like this; when we all slow down and hang out together.” I find this hilarious but a little bit true.
In our lives, as with so many people today, there is very little time to do nothing. We seem to race through our lives; always doing something. When we are not working, commuting, shopping, shlepping kids, gardening, doing housework, we are watching movies, going out for dinner, visiting, exercising, or playing computer games. When the kids were little, we spent a lot more time doing nothing together. But that changed as they got older.
It seems that there are so many demands on our time, and so many distracting activities to entertain us, that it can be difficult to carve out time to sit quietly, do nothing with others, or spend time reflecting on life. Over the years, I have found that when my life gets too busy, my body has a way of forcing stillness on me. I know it is not a coincidence that this bout of illness follows several weeks in which I worked 50-hour weeks to complete a project.
Last night I dreamt about tornados. I was running all through the dream, trying to figure out which way to go, how to stay safe in a world in which powerful forces were reeking havoc in unpredictable ways. A good metaphor for my life at present, and for life on the planet right now. How do we know what to do with our lives when the world feels so unsettled?
Years ago, a Shaman taught me, and a circle of women, a Medicine Wheel with teachings for the Sisterhood. In the east, direction of spirit and light, there was a trinity of aspects for the Sacred Artist; free will, active will, and passive will. Creativity, we were taught, springs from the marriage of all three. I have come to think of passive will as the source of inspiration. It requires stillness and quiet. It is the place of prayer and meditation; the space in which Spirit, by whatever name we give it, speaks to us.
In a world that makes so little time for stillness; with so little respect for quiet and inaction; is it surprising that things are so unsettled? How can we see the way forward when we allow so little time for inspiration; so little time for direction from Spirit? In my own life, it seems, time and time again, that my body imposes on me, the stillness that my soul requires. So I lie in bed, pay attention to my dreams, honour the ideas that float to the surface of my mind, and promise myself, once again, that I will find a less painful way to do this in the future.