July 15, 2016

Linden Tree


This summer has been a strange one so far – disappointments and unexpected turns have been jumping over celebrations and good moments. Bad news and joyous vibes have been competing for the Olympic title of my life... Due to an unexpected turn of events, our plans for traveling to Europe are being put on hold for an undefined period of time. The unknown is what has been occupying these summer months... and frankly, it has all been mind-numbing. I had felt the discomfort of the unknown many times before, but I thought I had worked really hard to eliminate it and to stay open to uncertainty. Obviously, not hard enough. Somehow, it has hung over me and darkened my thoughts. My mental space has been stocked with worries, yet hopes and prayers for the universe to guide me find wisdom and insights. I've known deep down within me that everything will resolve the way it is supposed to, but the wait! The wait is what has been draining my energy, my focus and my otherwise optimistic, patient self. I wanted for time to hurry and to go fast and yet, when I celebrated my precious son's 18th birthday, I wished for time to stop and wait and go slow...
I was brimming with all that confusion and fragility, when in one moment, it just clicked. A great hardship is never desirable, but that doesn't mean that we can't make use of it; it can provide an extraordinary lesson capable of making us aware of the shallowness of our daily concerns, of the overwhelming pressure of the crazy world we are living in, and above all, of what truly matters in our human progression towards individual inner freedom. At this moment, I promised myself to manage my attention, not my time. To trust the path, to learn from it and to put my faith in action as I tune into what makes me happy, what completely absorbs me and puts me back in my creative centre – photography and writing.
Next, I was browsed in a favorite bookshop of mine, the place of comfort and escape in need of a lift. A little orange book quietly caught my attention. I always trust my instincts when it comes to picking books. As I began to flip through the pages, I read:
  "Welcome
   You have now become an official member of the Wander Society. 
...Society wants us to live a planned existence, following paths that have been traveled by others. Tried and true. The known, the expected, the controlled, the safe.
   The path of the wanderer is not this!
  The path of the wanderer is an experiment with the unknown. To be idle, to play, to daydream. 
...Wandering is not about a specific place or destination, getting from one place to another, or movement as a means to an end.
   Instead, it's about letting the soul and mind roam.
...The wanderer can observe, be present, pay attention, and be open to the unknown – all while remaining still. Entering into a wandering mindset involves partaking in the wandering rituals, turning off technology, breathing deeply, using the senses, tuning in.
...Life is an experiment. To wander is to seek the unexpected.
   Does the act of doing something without purpose challenge you a little?
   Good."
A wave of excitement went through my body. A current of happiness rushed from my heart. I knew, the universe conspired to help me go through the suffering of my mind and be myself again. All I needed to do was to be aware that this precious life will not last forever and that it is essential to make the best possible use of it. I needed one more time to sincerely examine what counts in life for me and simplify my activities, my inner voice and my expectations. 
I read the book in a day and found myself on my daily walk (wandering) with Charlie, this time unplanned, letting him lead me.
Re-charged with curiosity. Exhaling deeply. With ready eyes. Grateful to feel alive.
I made an amazing discovery that day – the streets were blanketed with blooming linden trees and the world was smelling like one. I came home with arms full of branches. I picked the flowers and made myself a tea. I baked a lemon cake glazed with the tea. The aroma filled the air around me. With every sip of the soothing infusion, I felt the presence of my grandma serving me the tea every time I had a fever as a child. I remember her telling me about the magical effect this flower has on healing our bodies. In almost every major hospital in Europe, there were long lines leading to the entrance doors, planted to supply the hospital with linen flowers for infusion that was given to sick patients and soldiers waiting for medical care. I realized, once again, that everything in life is a source of information, that everything in the natural world can be healing, once you stop taking it for granted and let it reveal its magic to you. The only honest way for me to survive this strange summer is to do what my soul thrives on, to participate with my mind in the direct experience of everyday life and to look at the ordinary in a whole new light. I have everything I need "to create a bond with the unknown wilderness I am about to enter into even though it might scare me a little."
I have become a wanderer.
I have arrived.

    The Wanderers are everywhere.




Thank you, dear friends, for reading. I hope you are having a nice and simple summer. My heart is heavy with the world right now, but despite the unbearable pain, I refuse to be afraid. I still believe in the goodness of humanity and that people are fundamentally loving and good.

8 comments:

  1. Welcome my friend.

    In not so similar ways, I have experienced like you, a disappointment....OR SO I THOUGHT. Since I'm a teacher, I knew that I only had from early June til the end of August to fulfill all my goals to:

    write more, produce some great poetry
    learn more about my photography, take great photos, set up my business (per request of some for my photos)

    I found myself last week at the crossroads, much like you.

    However, I have not read this book you have suggested, but somewhere, somehow, I picked up on the lesson. Yes, you are right: A LESSON.

    I like what you are saying here about not managing your time but rather your attention. Time will never stop for us, time will always require (at least during our working age) that we get back to work and make a living. But no matter where we are, whether on vacation or at work, our attention to all things LIVING is what causes the inner growth.

    As far as both my writing and photography goals, I discovered that though I feel I have not made any PROGRESS, I am in PROCESS. I wrote about this on my last blog entry. Without any cognizance or "attention" that we are in a process, we will miss out on probably the most important and longer lasting element of our journey. Like the old quote that says, "Life is not a destination, but a journey", I discovered for myself, what is in front of us all. We are on a daily process wheel, we are wandering for a purpose.

    I wish you continued success in achieving your goals, and constant joy as you wander your way into the light.

    OH! Today, I am taking my first ever photography class at the Minneapolis Photo Center!!!! (Love your photos here!) Anita

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  2. This post was sent out and received. It is so amazingly perfect for this exact moment in my life. Thank you.

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  3. What a lovely post, Sylvia! Your photographs are always inspirational, I love the dark, earthy tones. Linden flower tea is my favorite, my Grandmother always made some, I still remember helping her pick the flowers and then spreading them out on a newspaper on the table, leaving them to dry. Those few weeks of summer when the trees are in bloom are always my favorite. The moments breathing in the sweet air are some that I always think back to when I try to relax or think happy thoughts.

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  4. Your thoughts have me reading and rereading. I'm most struck by your remarks about attention as opposed to time. You have said so eloquently what I say to myself often, "Get your wig on straight, Jane."

    Tumultuous times withstanding...we can fight the riptide or ride the wave. It's our choice.

    Thanks for a very introspective post, my friend. The tea and cake look wonderful!

    Jane

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  5. Darling Sylvia, I just now saw you visited my blog. Thank you! Your comment means so much to me because for me, blogging, Instagram and emails are CONNECTING to people. For many others, social media is something else, and it has many functions. But thank you for taking the time to visit and comment.

    My class at the MPC was amazing. It was just a 101 course to teach us where to find the important functions on our cameras! IMAGINE THAT? I didn't even know what certain buttons were for. Our teacher told us to STAY OUT OF AUTO MODE and learn, really learn the other modes. The conundrum for me however, (which is slowly fading and understanding is finally setting in) is that on AUTO MODE, I've achieved what I think, is a decent if not good at times, ability to capture what I love. For example, depth of field. I understand it much better now and how to get that by using the manuel functions. But I am asking myself if my photos are going to change in a way that I don't like.....see? This is a huge adjustment that I have to make because deep down, I know that these "creative zones" on my camera will not only allow me to take better photos, but my LEARNING and understanding of it is what matters. As a French teacher, I have had many students that never continued on in their French. But is my job meaningless? No. Because I teach my kids how important it is to think. So....teacher, HEAL THYSELF! HAHAHAHHAHA....and now once again, it's my turn to learn the lesson that to know and understand something is freedom to create.

    Thank you dearest Sylvia for your constant inspiration! Anita

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  6. Beautiful photos. Valuable reflections//Jennifer

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  7. I found your blog via Bella Grace Magazine and read your article in the new issue for fall. I just want to say... You write so beautifully and your photographs in the fall issue of Bella Grace are stunning!!

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  8. Beautiful post. I just found your blog. it is amazing. I had a good read.

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