Recently I went to view some kittens with a view to finding one that would become a future member of our household. As I walked into the hallway of the owner’s house, I was greeted by what turned out to be three separate families of kittens and their mothers, 11 kittens in total! I was surrounded by balls of fur of differing levels of confidence, playfulness, physical strength, hunger and levels of sleepiness. Each of the three litters had been born about one week apart. Some were only three weeks old, still spending much of their time with their mum, suckling or sleeping, with occasional wobbly steps out into the kitten playground that was the lounge floor. As I gradually started to fall in love with all of these playful creatures, wondering how on Earth I was going to choose one of them (which I did eventually after about an hour!), it struck me how one week in a kittens life can bring about such change. From three weeks old, tottering around unsteadily on their feet, not really knowing what direction to walk in, to four weeks old – starting to explore gaps between the furniture and learning to play fight with their siblings, to five weeks old – starting to claim their own space and charging independently down the corridor.
How much of our own growth and what we would like more of in our lives is limited by our ability to do something and how much is about having the courage to step out and try something new – with the risk that we might occasionally trip? I know in my life I have often delayed or avoided doing something completely because I don’t yet know enough, am not confident enough, or a myriad of other reasons that have helped me to avoid taking risks; other than the one of becoming the perpetual student! As I get older I receive more reminders that we are all on this Earth for but a short time and that this time is precious. Yet many of us, instead of having the courage to step forward in the direction of our dreams and sources of inspiration, postpone taking action – we suffer from what you might call a WAIT problem.
I love this poem that speaks of the courage needed to step into the unknown:
For a New Beginning
In out of the way places of the heart
Where your thoughts never think to wander
This beginning has been quietly forming
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.
For a long time it has watched your desire
Feeling the emptiness grow inside you
Noticing how you willed yourself on
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.
It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the grey promises that sameness whispered
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent
Wondered would you always live like this.
Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream
A path of plenitude opening before you.
Though your destination is not clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is one with your life’s desire.
Awaken your spirit to adventure
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.
There is a famous Buddhist quote: “If you don’t change direction – you might just end up where you are going”. Changing direction or stepping out into uncharted territory can be frightening, but when you look back at your life – are you more likely to regret the things you didn’t do than the things you did? Like the young kittens, transforming our lives usually involves stepping forward into the unknown – even if it is with wobbly knees!
How will you ‘learn to find ease in risk’?
How will you ‘unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning’?
Are you excited about the direction you are heading in? If not, what are you first steps?