Hold to The Center

by ceilon on January 13, 2014

blue-fractal-art-flower-nice-wallpaper-1600x1200Today’s reading was Genesis 23 & 24, Matthew 12, Psalms 12 Proverbs 12, and the Tao chapter 12.

In all of the readings today is an admonition to hold to The Center. Abraham wants a good wife for his son, so he sends his servant back to the land of his brother to find one. He urges his servant to listen to God, and he will find the perfect partner for Abraham’s son (and he does). Jesus teaches that moving too far to the right or left of the law will cause us to stray, because we lose sight of the central message that is most important. The Proverbs call us to work diligently, but not too hard; to have compassion on our animals; that abundance is the result of labor balanced with rest.

And the Tao warns us that too trust too much in our senses will lead us astray, but a wise person will hold steady in the center of his being, in that place where we are connected directly to the Source of all things.

Our senses take us out into the world, gathering information and giving us feedback. And while information is important (I’m a data-driven person, myself–I want hard, solid facts before I make a decision about anything), the most important thing we can do is to listen to that internal voice, because it is always right.

Of course, depending on that internal voice requires that we first learn to hear it, and that takes time and patience. It also takes silence and solitude. We cannot learn to hear the Inner Voice if we are continuously in the company of others, and do not take the time to be still, be quiet, and listen.

Even once we learn the sound of that Inner Voice, and learn to listen, we don’t always hear it. Recently I hired two people in two of my different businesses. The first just wandered into the shop, and after reading her resume and conducting an interview, I knew that I should hire her. I just had a feeling. I did hire her, and it has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. The second person I hired in another of my businesses was my second choice. I had already interviewed the first person, and had the same gut feeling that I should hire her. But my head said, “Don’t hire anyone at the interview. You have another person to interview tomorrow. Wait until after that interview to make a decision.” After the second interview, I realized that the second person had some skills that I could use in my business that the first person did not have, so I hired the second person.

It didn’t work out. The special skills were never utilized, she wasn’t invested in my vision for the business, and I regretted not having hired the first person that my gut said to hire.

Luckily, once the person I should not have hired left, I was able to hire the person I should have hired in the first place, and it all worked out. I was very lucky and very grateful to get a second chance to do the right thing the second time around.

I had learned to listen to that Inner Voice, but I chose to only listen to it selectively. That cost me four months of progress toward my goals. But I’m never one to count a failure as a total loss–our failures can be valuable lessons if we learn from them.

What is your Inner Voice trying to tell you? Are you listening to It, or are you listening to fear? Do yourself a favor and spend some time being still, quiet and alone. Learn the sound of your Inner Voice. And when you do, follow It.

Life is good, and I am grateful.

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CherryBlossoms-April2010-03Today’s reading was Genesis 21 & 22, Matthew 11, Psalms 11, Proverbs 11, and the Tao chapter 11.

28 Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

This is one of my favorite verses in the Bible, because I am a chronic workaholic. Just this morning, before getting out of bed, I was sending out a silent prayer about working less, enjoying life more, and not being so perpetually busy.

It’s my own fault I’m so busy. All of us can work as much or as little as we want to. We are in control of this. But there are consequences, of course, either way we choose to go. For me, the consequences of working less and being less busy would likely mean that I would have to get a job and go to work for someone else. I’m not willing to do that. I worked for incompetent people in an incompetent school district for five years, and vowed to never work under those circumstances ever again. I worked long hours back then, but it was insane, crazy-making, busy work. Now I work long hours doing things that are worth doing, and it is so very much more satisfying. But I’m building four businesses from scratch, on a shoestring, and that means that I work very, very hard every day; and some days it knocks me over.

Case in point: this afternoon, my husband and I will put two coats of primer on the walls of my art studio. We will still have two coats of paint to go, and then we must paint the floor. It will be two weeks before we can move stuff back into that room, because once the floor has been painted, it will have to sit for a week before we can walk around on it. All of this is being done on as tight a schedule as possible, because every moment that we can’t move things back into that room, my art classroom is out of business. When working for oneself, one must keep things rolling, or one does not get paid.

And that’s just one of the things I did last week. I serviced hair clients in the salon, performed managerial duties in the salon (payroll, etc.), worked on several websites, did my first week’s homework for spring semester, hired a new art teacher, and picked out paint for this big paint job. I also did my volunteer task for Family Promise at my church this morning.

Yesterday I actually took a day to do as close to nothing as I possibly could, because I was so very tired from all of the “go, go, go” of late, and a winter break that turned out to be very busy. But even that involved too much work on the computer.

Busy-ness is a disorder, as far as I’m concerned; because it’s the dark side of productivity. I am a work horse, and I get a lot of work done, and I need to get a lot of work done, because I am self-employed, and I have to make these businesses work if I ever want them to pay me.

Today’s reading from the Tao talks about how the empty space in a pitcher, a room, or a window are what make them functional. We value a pitcher for what it can hold, and we value the same in a room. We value a window for what it reveals.

It has been documented over and over again that great scientific discoveries never happen in the moments of focus and hard work in the lab, but in the moments when the scientist is distracted from his work by moments of relaxation, such as taking a bath, going for a walk, etc. Focusing too hard on a problem we are trying to solve can obscure the solution. It is when we change our focus, doing and thinking something else, that the solution is most likely to come to us.

This is why rest is important. We must create negative space in our lives within which to breathe and enjoy life. It is in these spaces that we are able to unload our burdens, and find rest. 

“There is more to life than simply increasing its speed.”–Mahatma Gandhi

In the coming weeks (starting today) I will be looking for ways to slow down and create some negative space in my life. The challenge will be in not cutting anything out that I really want to do. At this point, I only do work I’ve created for myself, because it’s work I want to do. I believe that I can have it all. But at what cost?

Maybe I’ll go for a walk and see if the answer comes to me.

Life is good, and I am grateful.

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