I attended a lovely online writing workshop last year, and the guide encouraged us to stop bulldozing our way across blank pages, forcing ideas out into the world, or onto the world, but to try to practice sitting in a more relaxed receptive posture and invite things to be written through us. It was delightful and curious to me, because the bulldozing thing was on-point. Especially if you have been working without rest… it changes your posture, not in a good way. Think crouch, instead of dance.
And I wondered, what is trembling at the outer edges of the forest, too shy to approach me as I’m busy bulldozing something into submission with the force of my intention?
As the poem by Gary Snyder goes,
How Poetry Comes to Me
by Gary Snyder
It comes blundering over the
boulders at night, it stays
frightened outside the
range of my campfire
i go to meet it at the
edge of the light.
Isn’t that lovely?
I’ve never been very good at “manifesting” my future. I’ve been in workshops about that too… and walked away scratching my head, at the host’s enthusiastic exhortation to manifest the things you want in life, like a camper trailer and a holiday house in Hawaii and a six figure income from your online business, and I thought, wow, if this manifesting thing really works, what a shame people are using it up on shit like that, and letting the rest of the world circle down the drain. Whatever happened to the ditzy beautiful Miss Universe type who’d squander her manifestation wishing for world peace? Come on, manifesters, let’s level up the dreams so everyone wins!
I’ve never been assertive enough, really, to even request my own airplane seats. I feel as though the Universe will probably dish me up something better than I will get by meddling, and I can’t shake the thought of the old Gary Larson comic as the possible likelihood of me trying to outsmart the Universe…
When good things have come my way, I didn’t manifest them. They actually were beyond the limits of my imagination. Like, I wouldn’t have ever thought to ask to get sent on a work assignment to Mongolia! Trying to outsmart the Universe feels like getting served a leaky old camper trailer because you asked with potent intention (think the pester power insistence of a small child), and the Universe sadly shook its head and said, “I had this yacht waiting for you. But if you really want the camper trailer that badly…”
What if I set an intention, and by focussing so intently on it, I miss the things at the blurry edges of my periphery, just waiting to be invited into my lap?
Years ago, I read a fantastic book by Richard Wiseman (is there a better name?) called The Luck Factor. He was a social scientist who investigated what it was that made some people lucky, and others unlucky. And the lucky people tended to think of themselves as lucky, and carry themselves through the world in a more relaxed and open stance. Not as bulldozers. Not in the crouch. Their openness meant that, in experiments that put money on the ground in front of subjects, they would see it… and then they’d walk into the cafe they had been tasked with going to, and feel so delighted by the random money that they’d shout someone a coffee and then they’d be noticed by someone who was there to meet them, and a whole cascade of good things suddenly unfolded. The people who felt themselves to be generally unlucky in life, bulldozed their way down the street to the cafe, (which was their assignment, focused, intent, on the mission), stepping right over the money on the ground, then felt upset when the person they were supposed to meet didn’t show up. And a negative cascade rained down.
The experiments were manipulations, but the outcome, for me, was an invitation not to zero in too intently on what I think is my goal, but to stay open to the periphery. Sometimes, you need to be focussed. But then, why not come up for air every now and then, or do as a dear friend recently shared with me, stop on your mission, breathe, and do a 360. Who knows what will come into focus?
(Side note: the day I returned the Luck Factor to the library, I enthused about it to the librarian at the desk, and then noticed a fundraiser raffle taking place for cancer with a beautiful pottery vase that had been donated by Meg Gallup, and so in my general state of lack of focus and happiness, I bought a ticket. And guess what. Yep. I won. How bizarre is that? It’s one of my treasures. It’s absolutely stunning. I didn’t manifest it. I couldn’t have come up with something that good! It felt like the Universe having a good laugh and conspiring to underline the learning for me – don’t overclench or over focus, and keep your eyes and heart wide open.)
So, if you want to pick an intention or a focus for this year, I say, go ahead. Just don’t forget to stop every now and then, breathe and do a 360. Scan for other miscellaneous delights, and make room for them to get close.
As for me, I think I’m going to send out invitations to the Universe, instead of intentions. I’m happy to be in receiving mode. I’d like to contribute to the healing, regeneration and kindness of the world. In some way. That’s intention enough. And I am open to receiving help, boosts, delight, joy, protection, good companions, encouraging words, inspiration, needed medicine, as I bumble through the days.
May you be open, too, to whatever blessings and delights are waiting for you, just at the edge of your campfire’s light.