09/19/2012 12:34 am ET Updated Nov 18, 2012

Finding Your Soul's Bearings on New Frontier: Creative Learning

Welch poet David Whyte has written: "There's nowhere to go but home." This yearning to "go home" is universal. We search for that atmosphere in which we find welcome, belonging, connection, nourishment. We crave conditions that tell us we are seen, heard, held in positive regard. We want to know that despite the tides of change, we will be OK, that we can navigate the ups and downs of our lives with calm and balance, maintaining our footing at the helm. We want to know that we will reach shore, even if we cannot see it yet, confident that our footprints on the sand will find steadiness.

In the meantime, we may be required to limp, to ask for help. In the meantime, we are given the opportunity to receive help and encouragement that we did not expect, without asking! In the meantime, we may need to discover that what we think of as deformity is simply a new way to perceive who we are beneath the superficial. Some times are harder than others to achieve this. Especially when our footing has been soundly shaken. You know, full well, the endless ways this has manifested for you in times of personal trials and tests that seemed to demand more than the energy available. No small wonder that the Buddha and other master teachers agree that "Life is suffering." It is one thing to remain steady when life is smooth sailing, but quite another in the stormy night sea crossing when the journey involves pain.

Our tendency during these junctures is to turn away, to crumble, to whine, to have a gigantic pity party. The problem is, however, that none of these attempts change anything. Assuming the role of the victim never works for one simple reason: The attitude halts our own conversion, our own change of heart and attitude toward ourselves and our circumstances. To successfully navigate new frontier, we must surrender our external GPS and return to the one that never fails and can only be found within.

What holds us back? Perhaps it is that we confuse our need for safety with what promotes liberation. We want to be comfortable standing on new frontier. We long for safety, comfort, promise that we will not fall and skin our knees, metaphorically speaking. We want an insurance plan, a guarantee, that if we advance in the direction of the unknown and unknowable we will know the outcome. We won't. Because try as we might, neither Dorothy nor we can ever go home again to how life once was as long as we've kept our vow with life, which is to become all that we came here to be. Heraclitus put it beautifully: "We can never step into the same river twice." It is so. As long as we keep our wedding vow with life to develop our capacities, going home becomes an inner condition rather than an outer place.

Long ago, over dinner with the famous author and statesman Sir Laurens vanderPost in London, I found myself lamenting to Sir Laurens that I regretted the fact that the older I got, the less I was able to "gather family" at one table. Those I loved were scattered across the sea, in many countries, cities, and villages. He looked me squarely in the eye, and with that immense grin of his, beneath bushy gray eyebrows, he said simply: "Cara, my friend, we are global citizens, you and I. Our home is everywhere. If this is our calling, then we must obey and let the journey take us where it will, to near and distant lands. May we be content in the knowing that this is living closely in accord with the very wisdom of our soul. In this, may we be glad." I never forgot his words.

Living on the frontier of our own unique lives requires that we embrace the fact that we are not alone, even if, for the moment, it seems we are. On the way to surgery a few weeks ago, where my foot was being restructured, it would have been easy to conclude that I was alone on shaky ground. That would, however, have been a lie. Family abounded. Not blood family, for most of mine are gone, but that sort of family connection that comes when you meet the eye of another who is intentional about being present. Whenever we bring our alertness to the moment, we will find a friend in that moment, regardless whether we have met before or not. That does not matter. What does matter is that we say "yes" to whatever edge we are upon and not pull back. Whyte puts it this way: "... The reality of existence has to do with the freedom to be hurt... a spirituality to live on the frontier of your life... and inhabit it freely." We must give our permission for reality to touch us, to let ourselves be moved by what moves us, even when we grow afraid, even when we experience deep pain. Otherwise, we will never leave our tracks on the original ground that is ours to travel. It is a journey that requires our courage to hazard our self. Otherwise, there can never be a more expansive relationship between ourselves and life.

So, yes, our cure is within. Rumi put it this way:

"...Don't pray to be healed,
or look for evidence of
some other world.
You are the soul
And medicine for what
Wounds the soul."

Love Letter to the One Who's on Shaky Ground:

You may find it hard to believe, but it's true. What you resist persists with purpose. Try all you want to make times of instability vanish, times of feeling lost disappear. They won't surrender. How we hate to surrender! Know this. Although the condition you face is not what you may have wanted, this very circumstance has purpose.

Think of it as you curriculum for this year's School of Life. Consider that your present condition of imbalance and restructuring contains "required learning." Imagine that what you are facing will serve you later if you give yourself half a chance. It will, you know. All that is before you can help you expand, help you liberate yourself from old expectations that no longer serve you, old identities that have grown too tight.

But first, give yourself a break. Let yourself off the hook more. Take time to laugh, even when to do so seems hardly appropriate given where you are. Laugh anyway. Live anyway. You are the best medicine for what your soul desires. Give yours a chance to guide you through this labyrinth. It is temporary. Give your little old self a bigger chance than you've ever dared before. Remember the teaching of the elders? When the young ask: "What do I do when I'm lost?" Do as they advise: "Stand still. Stand still. Let the forest find you."

Let's do stand still together, despite the press of the world around us. Let's hunker down exactly where we are, on our own original ground, and feel the earth move, the miracle of the elements in their dance. Let's pause together, in the maelstrom, and recall we ARE together. What a joy. You are the gift waiting to be unwrapped. Don't rush the process. New life awaits those willing to pause, breathe in, enjoy, be grateful for the yet-to-be-discovered. Without this breath, there is nothing. For what are you waiting? Your invitation is in your lap. Let's not keep Love waiting!

Be the Love,


Your Turn: What restores your footing on new frontier? I'm listening! Thank you for forwarding this.

For the large outpouring of support during this period of finding new footing, quite literally, I am most grateful. Your messages, your gifts, your words of encouragement have been beyond anything I might have imagined. What a fortunate woman I am!

Gratitude for your amazing way of embracing The Love Project: Coming in its fourth printing, and sharing its lessons in study groups you've formed!