“The only real voyage of discovery exists not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”  -Marcel Proust

I have lost all of my routines. All the good habits that anchored my days like regular mediation and my ability to write daily have collapsed in the face of deep and abiding pain. Our pain and suffering is the greatest teacher we have in this life. It makes us listen more closely to our lives than any of our successes. This past month of pain has both humbled me and broken me open.

All of my striving and even most of the victories in my business have taken on new meaning as it was held in the parenthesis of this pain. The stress of all the trying screams from my shoulder now. I am listening.  Never a quitter, I am done trying to push a river. I want to float in it and see where it goes. For all the planning and knowing that I thought that building my business had taught me over the last year,  my shoulder’s wisdom speaks truer. The body never lies.

I am out of words many days now that I have been discovering the gifts of listening. Learning to listen means you have to stop talking and apparently, even writing. Leaning into the unknown and not trying to name it or understand it or control it is a different kind of practice. I don’t know how to talk about it. A lot of the time I don’t even know how to think.

However, it takes a lot of practice to stay in the unknown. Every mental fiber, each nerve synapse wants an out.   Internal silence is hard to come by.  Leaning into the listening is all about intention, even as I work to  stay present, thousands of ideas and fears fight for attention, darting in and out of  my consciousness. It’s no wonder I can’t think.

Finding still moments takes much effort, where it used to be like falling into a comfortable chair. If my body is not singing in loud throbbing notes, then my mind is tirelessly competing with my breath. What used to be a retreat now requires effort and commitment to keep coming back and sitting with the unsettled noise that lives inside of me.

Making a decision helps. Even if you don’t know how or what to do with the decision, knowing that you are finished with something seems like it makes an announcement to the universe that you are embracing change. The unknown bends a bit to embrace us when we choose it. My shoulder pain has softened as I am moving into something new, but is a ready companion when I slip.

I am studying gratitude again. Leaning in and looking for the visceral  experience of how much there is to be grateful for. Noticing the colors of the changing leaves or an opening in the gray autumn sky. I am looking at strangers laughing together and marvel at un-named teenagers holding hands. This is the way of starting over. Just by seeing the world as it is we can sometimes find a way back into ourselves.