The Mysterious Case of the Vanishing WHY
Here I am, writing at my little mobile office in the lush courtyard of an apartment building in Stockholm. It’s a lovely, mild and sunny day as I sit in the center of this town filled with beautiful people, elegant architecture, hilly parks and endless shops, cafes and restaurants. I’ve come to appreciate the long stretching daylight hours and very short nights, among other things, in this northern European city.
Something about this place has captured my imagination — and my heart — over the last couple weeks...something that I believe is essential to my understanding and progress. It’s a mystery I can’t quite yet place; one that I hope to unravel over time through this inquiry, and this writing.
I love the Stockholm style — its muted elegance with occasional splashes of dramatic light and color, gracefully combining rustic and modern styles with ease. It exudes a clean and restrained elegance — not unlike the Swedes themselves — a sense of natural warmth, confidence and style, without needing to try too hard.
The city itself is built on a group of 14 islands; an archipelago surrounded mostly by water and interconnected through bridges, roads, trains, boats, and perhaps some invisible golden thread weaving through the city and reaching back to ancient times long past. The archipelago stretches out many miles from the center, with thousands of lush, windswept and variously inhabited islands leading out to the Baltic Sea.
There is a great sense of calm presence to this place, informed as much by the lush surroundings and seemingly civil, modern culture, as it is presumably by this ancient golden thread that seems to have unravelled into endless strands. Vast invisible strands weaving their way through time and space -- through hidden corners, walls and waterways -- into the rich tapestry of a great city and its people.
Harvey the Snow Lion-Fu Dog — official mascot of the Fire of Love Project.
Harvey the Snow Lion-Fu Dog accompanies me today as he often does, sitting patiently with his wild and playful spirit egging me on; reminding me of my inner strength of purpose, that great Soul Fire that I’m prone to wax on about....
Like most animals — and, presumably, the mystical spirit-animal sort — Harvey does not question his role in life, or why he exists. He is simply a pure embodiment of his purpose and essence, symbolizing the authentic truth of Original Mind.
That quality is what makes him especially valuable and powerful as a point of inspiration and remembrance. (Yes, he is a small mixed metal statue from Nepal via Northern India, but he is also a sacred talisman and power-animal symbol — imbued as he is with power and energy, symbolizing the direct, joyful presence of the Realized Self). Having him near me as the embodiment of that meaning — what I have chosen for him, or perhaps what he has called me to choose for him — is what strengthens and inspires me.
To create from my heart of hearts, to allow the fire of my spirit burn through the resistance, I need only to allow this direct essence — this presence of the Unborn Self — the spaciousness to be. From there, the presence has whatever space it may wish for to spread out and flourish within me.
This flourishing gives rise to all sorts of creative lusciousness -- expressing itself now through writing, later through some other surprisingly delightful form of expression or observation or experience. My practice is to be aware of this presence, and allow what flourishing may be; a simple practice of presence.
But it’s not always so clean and simple, or stylishly elegant.
// We are our own worst enemy.
That part of us that is as natural as a child grabbing the nearest crayons and scribbling on the wall cries to be set free to roam and explore, yet we continually put endless rules and limitations and shackles on her. How can we avoid this, having been raised in our modern world? So often, so powerless we are in the face of the resistance — allowing it to stop the natural flow of presence; this inescapable, divine essence of Who We Are.
Sometimes we cannot help but allow the resistance to all but take over, with free rein to cause all manner of distraction and disaster — anything to keep us from being rooted in the true presence of the Self that cries to be set free in our life and work! Then the WHY becomes big-- 'why this...why now, why create, why do anything??!'
It’s OK — it’s not your fault. It’s up to you to take a stand for what matters, and hold fast to the light through whatever interference may appear. It’s up to you to get to know yourself and your energy better, and clear out the accumulated mental, emotional and energetic gunk from a lifetime of human struggle and experience -- that funky gunk beneath the surface that rises up at the most inopportune times, whispering lies inside your head.*
Why create anything?
Maybe we need a reason to live and go on — a raison d’etre. Without a cause to fight for, or some creative pursuit for something greater than us, we might easily lose hope. And this is something I have used to work with, and I help others to understand and know, and flip the why -- your "Big Why -- the reason for living -- that core sense of purpose that keeps you going. Claim that -- own it -- and your work becomes easier, better, bolder, brighter.
But could there be an even deeper path, beyond the Big Why?
There is hope in this flow of self-expression. There is the spark of potential -- the great Fire of Love -- in the seed of the moment itself. Through this writing, perhaps — perhaps! — that spark ignites a part of you reading now, tickling some corner awake through the strands of words — reaching through time and space and into your soul.
What say you -- perhaps...?
// The Mysterious Case of the Vanishing ‘Why’
This KNOWING at the source, the presence at the root of all expression — this is the greatest knowing, and perhaps the highest art. Stripped down to the bare essence; clear of the gunk of a lifetime of suffering (a thousand lifetimes, perhaps). Clear as the light dancing off ten thousand leaves of weeping Birch in front of me. Quiet and still as the swell of my heart in the presence of this luscious landscape as I engage the flow of my spirit — or, better, as it engages me.
Where is the place for the ‘why’ in this stillness? There is no wondering, no doubting, no questioning in there — it just Is. In that place, I don’t know that I need a clearly defined reason any more. But I’m not ready to give up the ‘why’ altogether yet!
So I ask you now, then:
Do you need a reason to live and work and keep you driving forward -- onwards and upwards? Or is it possible that the impetus to create, the flow and the work itself could be reason enough?
It’s a question I’m ruminating on today, as I dive deeper into this presence at my core; deeper into the what — the what-ness — beyond the why.
// Some more big questions I’m tackling:
Is it really necessary to have a “reason why” I exist and I create? Or, is it something deeper — the essence and presence of who I am — that is driving everything, and simply demanding my surrender?
Is it the work itself, the divine flow of spirit as it reveals itself through my creative process that provides the “reason why”?
Can I rest in the presence of my being, the clarity of my mind and energy field, the strength of presence in my ability to observe and reflect and write — will that be enough for me to feel and to be supported and held in this life?
...Yes, some big questions.
“Your eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is sound, your whole body is full of light; but when it is not sound, your body is full of darkness. Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light." ~ Luke 11:34-36
Stockholm Skyline -- July 2013
We are born seemingly alone and naked into the world, but we could not be more closely held by this great tapestry of endless beauty — this multi-dimensional, golden-threaded dream coat of the human family. I am not alone, you are not alone, we will never be alone on our journey.
What do you think? Do you need a reason to live and work and drive you forward? Or is it possible that the impetus, the flow, the spirit and the work itself, could be reason enough? What is driving you and your work — the quest for money, fame, spirit, self-knowledge or enlightenment, or the presence and the flow itself...?**
Let us rise up, and let us create, and let us embrace that great flow of our spirit that drives all of existence — it is life, and it is art; it is great and it IS. When all the extraneous muck and bullsh*t is stripped away, where is the why? Could it be gone? Maybe I don’t need it anymore...maybe it’s been replaced by the what, that ‘what-ness’ of the presence and flow, the is-ness of existence.
Or, maybe it’s just taking a rest.
I’m not religious, but I believe wholeheartedly in the Great Mystery — the beloved presence and the spark of essence at the root of all that is. I see beauty, peace and hope in the world around me. I see freshness, wonder, and delight in the work before me.
I see a fire of love and light, blazing through me and you and into the sky, illuminating the world around us. Sparkles of shimmering light filtering down from the ethers, enlivening the tapestry and quenching this great thirst that unites us all.
*Overcoming resistance is a subject unto its own — authors like Stephen Pressfield have written entire books on this, and one of the greatest practices I've found for this is Energy Healing, and really getting to know yourself. Also, dialing in the love. I've been investigating the connection between energetic interference and resistance in my forthcoming revision of FLOW, and have found that a lot of resistance comes from negative energy.
**Let me know if you have an opinion or thought on this you’d like to share with me. I’m wondering also if your behavior and experience around eating animals changed at all since reading my last post? (Mindfully Eating Animals). I haven’t yet gotten to responding to every email since then, or my piece before — perennially backlogged — but I’m very curious to hear about your experience. Please let me know via Facebook or the email list.