I can recollect David Whyte (whether in person or in one of his books, I no longer remember) talking about the part of ourselves that has gone on ahead on the journey, already sensing where it is that the path is leading us.
John O’Donohue suggests that we trust the “indirect, oblique side” of ourselves to navigate the geography of our future.
One of the tools we use in coaching is called geography. It is a way of articulating what is present in the emotional space by using our senses to explore the energy and ambiance of a given moment or perspective. We might label something as feeling like a “tight space” or perhaps like “slogging through mud.” The energy of the situation can be sensorily described with landscape, light, temperature or weather, to name a few.
I have been wrestling with this concept of the journey, of finding my way. Moving to another continent seems to have amplified this, and the tool of geography comes in handy when I start over-thinking it all.
I can’t help but know intuitively that the journey lies inward. “Go in, go in, go in…” I murmur in my own ear. I am aware of the immensity that lives within. The depths of the eternal and the darkness too. A few cautious footsteps, and then I stop. I am afraid.
Fearful me imagines dark caverns where dripping water echoes off the walls. That scared self envisions rocky ledges, dropping away into nothingness and labyrinthine paths leading this way and that; however will I know the way to go?
Noticing the fear and then asking the courageous part of myself what else is here. What footholds can I find to steady me? There is the eternal echo of my heartbeat, continuing its rhythm, steady on. The smell of earth - damp and warm and fertile. The stillness of things.
I am here now, and if I stay, if I allow my eyes to adjust to the darkness, things will begin to take form.
Hopeful me chimes in and asks, what if I am welcomed? Inner terrain doesn’t have to be all cliffs and caverns and dampness and dark. What if there are also expansive views and sun-filled valleys? What if the salty smell of the ocean welcomes me?
I am aware that it is all here within me. And if I stay still long enough, I will grow comfortable with the ground beneath my feet. And perhaps that is all I need to know for this moment.
Might there be a dizzying labyrinth ahead? Yes. And there is bound to be a field of sunflowers, too.
I think the key is in not anticipating what lies ahead. Emerging, unfolding, allowing. I need to let it evolve of its own volition and be present to the landscape that is here right now.
This morning, I feel like I am standing next to a prickly hedge. A few thorns catch in my hair and others poke into my back. It seems as if there is no way through. And yet I stay. If nothing else, it offers me a little bit of shelter and shade.
And I just might find a way through that I hadn’t noticed before.
What is the geography of this moment for you? What are you noticing?
Jessica Curtis is a professional coach who helps people cultivate intention and live from a place of meaning and authenticity. If you think you could benefit from working with Jessica or want to invite her to work with your group, reach out to start a conversation.