Sunday, August 11, 2013

Falling Away


[This is a post I wrote over a year ago. I find that I have come full circle back to this image of falling away. Words, beliefs, expectations, judgments–all seem to be turning color and falling away like the leaves in autumn. This period of not blogging has been a time of experience and reflection rather than thinking and expression. And it is good.

Now I feel things stirring, moving in the direction of reconnecting. Experiences are starting to take some shape in words. Perhaps there is more to say. Perhaps there is something new to say. We’ll see.

And so, my friends, bear with me yet a little longer. Since this break stretched out much longer than I initially expected, it seems to be taking up a season rather than a month. It feels premature to cut into the remaining time of summer, the most beautiful summer I can ever remember. But when I come back from the creek at my cabin, and when I come inside from the garden, I will sit down at the computer and share some words and catch up with some of your words, too.

In the meantime, all my very best wishes to you.]

The named is the mother of ten thousand things.
The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth.
–Tao Te Ching

This phrase has been playing in my mind the last several weeks.  It is often accompanied by a physical sensation of things falling away from me.  When I try to describe it to someone, I find myself using my hands the way you would brush leaves or crumbs off your clothes.  My hands start near my chest and move down the sides, flicking out near my hips, as though shaking off the last pieces that might be clinging to my fingertips.  My hands instinctively do this while I’m searching for the words, but the only words that come out are “falling away, falling away, falling away.”

What is it that I’m shedding?  I think back to when the sensation began.  What was happening then?

One thing was that I decided to stop a spiritual study I was doing with someone I like very much.  I like talking to people of faith, any faith, which includes everyone if you think about it.  Even people who claim to have no faith have faith in its absence.  I’m curious about what faith means to people, how faith guides them, how it manifests in their everyday lives.  So I enjoyed my discussions with this person.  It became clear, however, that we were reaching a point where I was being asked to make a choice, to commit to her view of things, to join her community of faith.

I felt sad about this because, as I had explained to her before, I already have a community of faith I am committed to, and I don’t plan to leave it.  I also felt a bit flummoxed because declining her invitation seemed like a rejection of her beliefs.  By her definition, it was, although I didn’t see it that way.  A spiritual koan.

Another thing that was happening involves my recent interest in learning how to use nunchucks, a martial arts weapon made of two sticks joined by a chain.  In the first lessons, the teacher showed me specific techniques, but there came day when he turned me loose, so to speak, to use the techniques in any combination I wanted, and furthermore to experiment with other techniques.  I was initially paralyzed by the absence of specific instruction, but once I embraced the concept I found great freedom in letting the nunchucks fly, keeping them in motion without a lot of thinking and planning.  When practicing privately, I discovered that closing my eyes and just feeling them in my hands enhanced both my ability and enjoyment.

What could these things have in common and how could they be connected to this sense of falling away?  I’m not sure, but I keep going back to that passage from the Tao Te Ching quoted above.  As a person who has spent waaaaay too much of my life living in my head, naming I’m sure ten thousand things and more, I’ve come to a place where the naming just doesn’t seem so important anymore.  I don’t seem to crave that in-my-head rational clarity the way I used to.

Yes, we understand our world by naming it and explaining it, and communication requires common agreement on the meaning of certain words.  But somewhere beyond that, or beneath it or inside it or over the rainbow (see what I mean about words?), all the names fall away.

They...just...fall...away.

Ever desireless, one can see the mystery.
Ever desiring, one can see the manifestations.
And the mystery itself is the doorway to all understanding.
–Tao Te Ching

related posts: Spiritual Simplicity; There is No Them

40 comments:

  1. Hi, Galen--It's very good to hear your voice again. This sounds like an important time in your life, and it's very inspiring to me to witness someone who is experiencing insight and a letting go even though you can't pinpoint how or why.

    I, too, have lived very much in my head, a mind full of words. I love words, but as you say, there comes a time when they are not enough, or too much perhaps.

    Bless you as you continue in this time of waiting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tina, Thank you so much for your kind words and good wishes. As someone else who has spent a lot of time in her head, I know you understand the experience of the shift to another center of knowing. Thanks for commenting.

      Delete
  2. Dearest Galen,

    I'm so happy your time away from blogging has proven so fertile. This idea of falling away is a profound one. It's only through allowing everything to fall away that we can be complete in the moment. When that comes to you naturally, that is so amazing indeed. I wish you the best as you continue in your quiet time away.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sandra, I appreciate your description of being complete in the moment. Indeed, this does feel like a profound time for me, and I'm grateful for it. I also look forward to getting back in touch. Thanks for commenting.

      Delete
  3. Those of us who love good writing and great insights are very happy at your possibility of rejoining us. Your period of "falling away" has been necessary and important to you as you move toward rediscovering a joy and satisfaction at the keyboard.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bob, So glad that I am able to spend time with you and Betty during this period. In person is the best connection! Thanks for your support and for your comment.

      Delete
  4. Hi Galen, good to hear from you, you're saying just what I need to hear right about now and I think that I'm about ready to come back to my blog. I've missed my blogger friends, I've still been shooting photos but I miss those I've been connected to over this last four + years.

    In my absence I've found what I've needed to find and lost what I needed to lose and I have experienced peace, serenity and gratitude in my absence. I had to go back to where I began, back to the old farm land and back to the cemetery to where my parents are buried. I had to feel what I had to feel; no more analyzing or rationalizing, just feel and be.

    I'm finding my balance again since my sister passed, that one sure threw me off kilter, and now there are unanswered questions but for me it just is what it is. No answer will bring her back, and I will carry her love with me for the rest of my life.

    In a real long roundabout way I'm saying that I can feel what you are saying; I don't need to analyze, rationalize, or find purpose... I need to feel right deep down into my inner core and this is where I find my peace as I go through the mourning of my sister and find acceptance and gratitude for having such a beautiful sister in my life for 50 years.

    Sorry to hear that you've had to let go of a friend and nunchucks... look at you go! Good for you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. darlin, So nice to hear from you! I know you and your family have been going through a time of grief and recentering. Being away from blogging is a big change for you after blogging daily for several years, but I know this is the time for you and your family to sink into your memories and your support for each other. Blessings to you and thank you for commenting.

      Delete
  5. Hi Galen,

    For a minute or two, I thought that you are back to blog. It's great to know that you have been taking the time to reflect. Thanks for keeping us updated :-)

    Perhaps it is in the nameless or the formless that we discover who we really are. If this is the case, names falling away may not signify the end but a new beginning.

    Wishing you peaceful contemplation,
    Evelyn

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Evelyn, A new beginning indeed, and a discovering in the mystery. Thanks for your good wishes. I like your phrase "a peaceful contemplation." A perfect image for me. Thanks for commenting.

      Delete
  6. I am glad to hear you are still enjoying your blog break. I have been in an out all summer. I have enjoyed every minute of time I had this summer. I will stop by when you return.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bonnie, Thanks for stopping by. I'm so glad that you are having a wonderful summer, and I appreciate your reassurance that you will be back. Thanks for commenting.

      Delete
  7. Sounds more like shedding your skin than falling to me, but it will amount to the same thing in the end - a whole new you. Can't wait to see how it turns out! Take your sweet time. I'll still be here. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jennifer, Shedding is also a good image for me right now. Like that little snake on the card that you told me about! I can't wait to see how it turns out, too. Thanks for your reassuring comment.

      Delete
  8. Hi Galen....I just fell (so to speak) into your website and love the poetry and flow of it all. I appreciate the feel of your words and honor your decision to take a break when necessary. I too am spending the month in the mountains in our cabin and breathing in nature. Plus I love the references to the Tao and look forward to reading more posts when and if the time comes....as Rumi says, "Out beyond right doing and wrong doing, there is a field. I will meet you there...."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kathy, So glad that you "fell" by! Where is your cabin? I live in Portland, Oregon, and my cabin is on Mt. Hood. I know and love that Rumi quote. Thanks for reminding me of it. And thanks for commenting.

      Delete
  9. Perhaps it's like a renewal of sorts, a different manner of seeing and feeling .. not so describable with words.. more infinite ..

    Interesting..sounds like something I read quoted from Kate Morton's book.. at helenof3.blogspot.com.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. BM, True, this is hard to put into words. I'll check out the link you provided. Thank you for the link and for your comment.

      Delete
  10. Replies
    1. Jodi, Still as sweet as ever. Thank you.

      Delete
  11. I have really missed your posts. You have always been a source of deep thinking and spiritual thought. This one was so beautiful as always; something to reflect upon.
    Blessings to you and I will look forward to your return of blogging.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, LeAnn, I have missed your posts, too, even though it is my own fault for being away from blogging and not reading them! Thank you so much for the kind words, and I look forward to reconnecting.

      Delete
  12. Hi Galen,

    After reading through the comments to your beautiful post, I'm struck once again by the innate and unique emotional connections you make with people--many of whom know you only electronically. What an incredible gift and one your inner being is honing during your blogging sabbatical. We miss you, of course, but more importantly, bless you for honoring your heart and fulfilling your God-given mission.

    Selfishly, though, I'll be glad when you're back in the writing saddle. You have a way with words that moves me like few others do. Until then, keep doing what you're doing and feel all the love that surrounds you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Beth, Your comment is so lovely it brought tears to my eyes. I am humbly honored. And grateful. Thank you.

      Delete
  13. Galen: I do miss you. However, most important to me is that you enjoy your wonderful life. Be well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. JJ, I appreciate the support. I miss you, too! Thanks for commenting.

      Delete
  14. I took a good little break myself, but am back now. Mine was more about being lazy. Hope you are well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Elliot, I have my lazy days, too! Thanks for commenting.

      Delete
  15. Hope to see you back full time soon, Galen! Miss you!

    ReplyDelete
  16. We have had a tough summer, my husband's best friend died suddenly, one year before he was about to begin his retirement years in a nice golf community in Florida, and then my husband's Dad passed away, not unexpected but very sad nonetheless. we have had to travel back east unexpectedly a couple of times, and our summer has just been very hectic and challenging.

    I feel some of that "falling away" now as we move into this next cycle.. the Wheel keeps turning, yes?

    Sometimes some time in Nature and just quiet time to reflect, is the best healing there is.. that's what we're doing lately!



    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Madeline, I'm sorry to hear about your summer of loss and challenges. I can see that the image of "falling away" has a very direct and vivid meaning in your life right now. I agree that being in nature is sometimes the best place of healing. Blessings to you and your family. Thank you for commenting.

      Delete
  17. Galen -

    How sweet it is to read your words and know that the choice you made to 'be' rather than 'do' this summer has been and continues to be profound. The lesson that all of us can take away from you is to listen to your inner voice/heart. What you do with your life is inconsequential (as far as I'm concerned) - it's how you do it that matters.

    With blessings and gratitude - Fran

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fran, You have been so supportive of my break this summer. I appreciate it very much. Thanks for commenting.

      Delete
  18. The post is handsomely written. I have bookmarked you for keeping abreast with your new posts.
    Estetik

    ReplyDelete
  19. I've been thinking about my identity lately. Sometimes it seems like I spend more time figuring out what I am not, instead of what I am. But then, if I go further, I don't go further. And it all just seems like thinking. Unneeded thinking maybe.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bobby, I think we all eventually reach a point beyond which our thinking cannot take us. We realize that we don't know, can't know...and that not knowing is okay. Thanks for your comment.

      Delete
  20. Even saints have to go off into the wilderness to pray and recharge their spirit batteries. I've been loving a bit of time away from everything (except beauty) too. We'll run into each other again soon, and we'll bring back gifts acquired in the time off.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mikey, Saints and non-saints alike! Thanks for your words of support and friendship. Looking forward to reconnecting.

      Delete
  21. Hey great post and great work by you, It provides a great information.
    Helped me a lot .

    ReplyDelete

Your comment is valuable and valued. Comment moderation is enabled to block spam, so please excuse the brief delay until your comment appears on the blog.