Mainly, I am thankful I made the choice not to commit to some of the fleeting interests that could have become permanent in my 20’s, especially the winged victory.
But, year over year, one voice, one poem, one sentence holds my attention as a timeless, haunting idea that may be the tattoo I could wear with pride.
“At the still point in the turning world….inner freedom from the practice desire,
The release from action and suffering, release from the inner
And the outer compulsion, yet surrounded
By a grace of sense, a white light still and moving,”
He won the Noble prize for his poem. I think because each page has a timeless lesson that can be read and read again.
“The still point in a turning world.”
What is still in a turning world? I think I have read this sentence over 100 times.
My life felt like a turning world and I was far from still within it. I was spinning as fast or faster than the world most days. The cell phone calls, emails, kids, projects, and friends spun and I spin along as if my feet never actually touched the ground.
Until the rare moment came along, out of no where, and everything stopped.
We have all had the moment. The sunset that requires silence; the smile on my son’s face that warms my soul, the song that stirs emotions deep within.
Of course T.S. Eliot gives the perfect examples:
“The moment in the arbour where the rain beat,
The moment at the church at smokefall..”
Whatever moment at the arbour is that stops your world is not as important as the knowledge of how amazing that moment feels.
I feel still in those moments. I stop moving. I am free from desires, suffering, actions. Yet I am full of life. I feel totally alive and totally still.
And I wanted to feel that way more. Don’t you?
Emotional Stillness Workout
When life gets hard and I mean hard, like ass-kicking hard, I practice coming back to that still space. No matter how much the world spins and no matter how much I may feel like I am going to spin out of control with it, I come back to, “a white light still and moving”
First, I had to accept that what T.S. Elliot said was possible. I had to hear that I am not the world around me. I am not the spinning world. I am a white light. I am stillness. I am moving; I am life.
Find your still point.
Can you accept that you have a still point within? When was the last time something stopped you in your tracks? Was it the adorable pet that met you at the door or sat with you in the exact moment you needed? Was it the lover, friend, or family member that looked into your eyes and really saw you fully? Was it a beautiful day? A bike ride? A sporting event? The smell of your child, spring, or a flower?
Learn what it feels like for you.
What did that moment feel like? Can you find that white light and the stillness? The sense that the world and all its endless motion felt separate for that moment. All the worries, lists, fears, and resentments took a backseat?
Next time life feels like it is moving faster than you can digest and the anxiety or dread starts to kick in, come back to your still point, the feeling, the smell, the way it feels in your body. Let the world spin as you focus on your still point.
And, despite best efforts, there are days when I just cannot find that space. No worries. I just create a moment by smelling the nape of my son’s neck.
What is the moment when you feel most still and filled with life? Maybe you have a few.
I challenge you to start noticing your still point for one day and to write it down. You’ll be surprised how quickly you can center yourself, feel lighter, calmer, and ready to jump back into your day.
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