On leaving a trail

13 Feb

The daughters
of your daughters
of your daughters
are likely to remember you,
And most importantly,
Follow in your tracks.
~ Clarissa Pinkola Estes

I came across this quote yesterday. And whether or not this remembering and following actually happens, it startled me into thinking that it could possibly happen.

Thankfully, I no longer react with fear to information like this. I would have, in the past. But today, in my present incarnation, i feel no pressure to  sit down and write a list of goals, or see my life from the perspective of my funeral, or any of the other suggestions for leaving a legacy and insuring that my life matters.
Because my life here really does matter. It matters most of all, quite appropriately, I think, to me.

Unlike all my years at goal-setting, outward focused energy, I have found that what comes bubbling up from my own inner depths has the truth, elegance and beauty to actually sustain me. Money, accomplishments, notoriety are incredibly delicious and necessary in degrees. We do after all, live in a material world.

But what I would assume my great great grandaughters will find worth following is not to be found in abundance in the business section of the bookstore. I imagine they, like I, will hunger for authenticity and truth. For equality, the ability to love freely and a zest for life that will see them through to the end and beyond. They will need courage to express themselves honestly and compassionately without fear of retribution, derrision or judgement. They will need a hell of a lot of self love in order to love their world and those in it fiercely – exactly as it presents itself.

So I try to be quiet often, to be patient with myself, and to forgive. I try to love myself for my light and my dark, knowing that in my greatest fears are my greatest gifts. I try to be comfortable with myself and my life. I try to let go of the outer results and focus on the inner causes.

This has led me to settle on a way of life that honors my deep inner movement and knowing. A way of life that is not dictated by externals yet encompasses them. A way of life that makes all of my rather ordinary moments potentially extraordinary. Every great mystic and spiritual teacher has stressed the internal life as more ‘real’ than the outer material world. I find this to be the case with my own life. If my inner rhythm is honored, and I see outer events as effects of my inner causes, then whatever presents itself is exactly as it should be. No questions asked. I have the choice always in what action or response I wish to take. How do you do this without freaking out? With absolutely trust? In the face of your initial response being ‘this sucks…’

Enter Tolstoy and The Three Questions.*
What is the right time for every action?
Who is the most important person?
What is the most important thing to do?

(And thankfully, The Three Answers:)

The most important time is now. The present moment is the only place or time in which we have any power.
The most important person is the person in front of you.
The most important thing to do is to do good to that person in front of you.

Most circumstances and situations involve people, so most everything is included. Animals can and often do present themselves. And small children. And inconvenient requests. Death and dis-ease are included and honored. And moments of great clarity and beauty. And a satisfaction and strength in your own convictions and way of living.

It is challenging. It makes me slow down. It forces me to think, to prioritize from the inside out. It makes me smile when I go to bed. It makes me look forward to a day of one-thing-one-moment-at-a-time. It takes getting used to. It makes me sigh with relief. When I focus this way, my internal knowing takes over, I trust and honor myself on the fly. I trust that the next moment will arrive exactly as it should be, and that I will have the courage and strength to allow it.

And there you have it. A simple, elegant formula for living a life that ulimately will bring you great peace of mind, upon which joy will surely follow and voilá – a life worth living – on your own terms. I am leaving the very track that I am also following, left to me by those who came before, who also had the courage and love to honor themselves, their music and their call.

*From Wikipedia -“The Three Questions” is a short story by Russian author Leo Tolstoy first published in 1885[citation needed] as part of the collection What Men Live By, and other tales. The story takes the form of a parable, and it concerns a king who wants to find the answers to what he considers the three most important questions in life.

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