The slow-down

Find the seed at the bottom of your heart and bring forth a beautiful flower.
— Shigenori Kameoka
source: Tuesday Ryan-Hart

source: Tuesday Ryan-Hart

I had grand plans for my time off. It was a good amount of time — three weeks! — a luxury of empty days I’d never given myself before. Empty days to fill with cleaning and sorting and friends and adventures and ALL THE THINGS.

The days did fill, no doubt. I saw friends. I took a wonderful trip. But mostly, my time off was full of space to be quiet. Not long into it, I realized that’s what I needed most.

As we’ve built The Outside over the past eighteen months, I’ve grown and stretched in ways I couldn’t have imagined. It’s been busy and full of amazing experiences, and I wouldn't trade a moment of it.

But, friends, I’ve been tired. Very, very tired. On the edge of burnout-tired. The work is good. I love the work. But this was a kind of tired that was settling deep in my bones, not solvable by a good night of sleep or even a week off.

I had stopped hearing my own song — my own knowing and inner compass, so over-stimulated with new input and responsibility. Have you felt that feeling before? When we do, we need a dedicated pause to find it again.

In some recent work, we were at a turning point with the group. We had spent months gathering information and experimenting with new strategies, but we’d hit a wall. We had SO MUCH coming at us — all good, useful, and helpful insight, though much of it only brought more complexity to whatever our path forward would be. The wall we’d hit was that it was now time to make sense of it together.

And so we paused. We could have kept charging forward, pushing and wrestling and struggling to pin down the answers. But instead, we slowed down. We spent time in silence, reflecting.

Individually, we were quiet until we each came up with our own answers. And then, only after finding some clarity for and clarity from ourselves did we come back together. Then we were able to determine how to move forward.

We found the seeds: the beginnings of strategies to move forward. We let go of the clutter of past ideas and conceptions. We dug deep until we learned how to cultivate flowering: the best soil, sunshine, and hydration for our seeds. We found the soil, sunshine, and rain within each of us, on our own, before linking arms again to take action together. It was beautiful — almost magical — how we each went inside to gear up, studying the cultivation of how we might each bring our best action back to the table.

When we came back together, we made not only a bouquet of flowering go-forward ideas, but a whole field of them.

This is how my own recent break feels. It’s been a letting-go, a restoration, a rest. The best kind of pause. I’ve rediscovered the seed in my heart. Soon, there will be more flowers. There always are.