The life I want?

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I cannot believe it but almost two years have passed since I first heard my heart shout to me: I saw ‘them’ dance tango and I knew that I had found a new reason to live.

On that October night in England, before tango found me, I thought my life was over. I was in the lowest of places. I had to force myself to get up off a sofa in an upstairs bedroom (into which my world had shrunk) and drive twenty miles in the dark to a place I did not know, to meet people I did not want to meet, to take my first backwards steps into an unfamiliar dance.  But I was rewarded beyond my wildest imaginings: unexpectedly my soul sang; more unexpectedly I listened to its song. Then I chose to help it sing louder. I committed big time. I followed my music to Buenos Aires. To be honest I did not think much beyond that. I decided to take a leap into the unknown, and then go with the flow.

At the time the challenge seemed enormous. What I did was terrifying because it wasn’t the norm in my world of being a housewife, growing vegetables, and speaking English. But actually relocating is one of the things that people do in pursuit of adventure, discovery, life experience, joy. Many adventurers come to Buenos Aires for tango or perhaps for something else, alone, and knowing no-one. Fewer stay long term, but nonetheless I am not unique in this path. I follow others and others will follow me.

On my journey the universe presented its situations and I made choices. I made some big changes in my life and in myself. I have a new reality now, and a new normality.

If you do something for long enough it becomes familiar and finds its more settled home in your life: dancing tango, living in another country, sharing a relationship with an Argentine, meeting new people from all over the world, speaking a foreign language, writing a blog. How it settles depends on many things: the decisions you make, the decisions you don’t make, your patterns of behaviour, the people around you and their patterns of behaviour… habits form, and you end up with a new norm.

So I am settling, but one of the differences in the Sally of today compared to the Sally of the past is that I am more vigilant in observing exactly how I am settling. I do not want the energy I invested in making my ‘big changes’ to be wasted. I want to try to be honest with myself and remain expansive. Am I still on the path of the heart, or am I just drifting into a different ‘comfort zone’? Am I continuing to walk closer to my core or am I in danger of being stuck perhaps someway down the line, on a different ‘sofa’?

At the same time I have to be careful not to pile on the pressure (of the kind that the world we live in can encourage us to place on ourselves): am I doing enough, ‘succeeding’ enough, achieving enough? I need to be kind and patient with myself, allow my life to settle, continue to explore all the possible avenues and see how the cards fall.

Balancing the settling process and the natural flow of the universe, against a desire not to allow myself to drift and the urge to drive myself on, can be uncomfortable.

For example recently I have found myself not truly committing to turning my evolving dreams into reality. That book, started and believed in with such a burst of enthusiasm, stopped. Almost overnight, inspiration and motivation vanished, and I have been procrastinating ever since… and feeling guilty about it. I am having to consider what I actually really do want to achieve with my writing and how I am going to make it happen. I am having to consider the possibility that I might not be ready to write a book of the type I originally intended, and that maybe I never will be. I am having to consider the possibility that maybe I am destined for other things. Or maybe I just need to dig deeper. This is a source of discomfort and confusion right now and I am waiting for the fog to clear. The only thing I do know is that if I want to write more then I need to write more. And I know that the only way to shift from a stuck place is to take action even if it is just with a small step, and so after a week of writing nothing, I am forcing myself to stop reading other people’s blog posts tonight and write this one of my own. And to be honest in it.

This year my life is not packed with grand changes, or drama, or impressive looking leaps forward. I have chosen a fascinating environment and I have been gifted other beautiful things. Buenos Aires, Argentina, Carlos, many lovely people, tango, my writing, a commitment to know and be true to myself and more honest with others: these are my ingredients, and I love them, every one. Now, how I choose to nurture them, my relationships with them and their relationships with each other so that they and I thrive rather than stagnate in my life, is my challenge.

So almost two years after I first listened to my heart, and as the huge changes I made settle down, I ask myself honestly, ‘Have I got the life I want?’

In one sense the truthful answer is no not quite. Yes I’ve got ingredients I love and that brings me great joy, but balancing them and finding the needed degree of commitment to shape them is where I am at. I shift from feeling comfortable to feeling uncomfortable on a regular basis. I have to balance ‘going with the flow’ with effort to grow. I still have work to do, and I guess I always will.

In another sense, in the sense that I know where I’m at…  in the sense that I am the Sally I want to be, who can continue to observe and see the truth about herself, and be unafraid to speak it, I am in a very happy, positive place and yes, absolutely I have got the life I want.

If I put those two things together, then the bottom line is that I have great hope. I know that growth is uncomfortable, but today I also know that I have the resources I need within me to continue growing. And I honestly believe that for now at least, there is no better place for me to flourish than under the warm and strong Argentine sun.

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17 Responses

  1. What a lovely post–very raw.

    Do you think we ever do feel 99% at ease with our lives? Will we ever know that we have the ‘life we want’? I never feel completely grounded and have the fear that I will continue searching for the rest of my life.

  2. Read ‘The Artist’s Way’! By Julia Cameron. Can’t recommend it highly enough.

  3. Sally,

    Thanks for another wonderful post. I struggle with the same things, as I think all people do, about knowing if you’re in the right place. I don’t think the struggle will ever truly end, but maybe you should just become comfortable with the fact that it won’t. You have followed your dreams and that happily ever after part is always the part that the movies just ended with an ellipsis. In reality, that ellipsis can go on for a long time and we must make our ending up for ourselves.

    Even if your book never comes to fruition, know that you already touch so many with this blog and maybe that can be enough for now.

    I will leave with you a poem that touched me deeply when I first read it by the great Jorge Luis Borges. First, in Spanish and then in English:

    Llaneza
    Jorge Luis Borges

    A Haydée Lange

    Se abre la verja del jardín
    con la docilidad de la página
    que una frecuente devoción interroga
    y adentro las miradas
    no precisan fijarse en los objetos
    que ya están cabalmente en la memoria.

    Conozco las costumbres y las almas
    y ese dialecto de alusiones
    que toda agrupación humana va urdiendo.
    No necesito hablarni mentir privilegios;
    bien me conocen quienes aquí me rodean,
    bien saben mis congojas y mi flaqueza.
    Eso es alcanzar lo más alto,
    lo que tal vez nos dará el Cielo:
    no admiraciones ni victorias
    sino sencillamente ser admitidos
    como parte de una Realidad innegable,
    como las piedras y los árboles.

    Now, in English:

    Llaneza
    Jorge Luis Borges

    To Haydée Lange

    The garden gate is opened
    as easily as a turned page
    questioned by a regular devotion
    and once inside, our gazes
    have no need to fix on objects
    that already exist completely in memory.
    I am familiar with the customs and the souls
    and that dialectic of allusions
    which any gathering of humans weaves.
    I need not speak
    nor claim false privileges;
    those who surround me here know me well,
    know well my afflictions and my weakness.
    That is to attain the highest thing,
    what will perhaps be given us by Heaven:
    not veneration or victories,
    but simply to be accepted
    as part of an undeniable Reality,
    like stones and trees.

    Besos de Tokyo,

    Becky

  4. P.S. Llaneza means “Simplicity”

  5. Hi Sally,

    I’d also recommend the Artist’s Way as an aid to help your writing flourish. If you have trouble finding it, I have a photocopy that I could lend to you for you to make another photocopy of it (although not ideal, but I thought I’d offer in case you can’t find it any other way!)

    Take care,

    Alan

  6. dear stilllifeinbuenosaires

    last night i stood in a room full of friends in Buenos Aires. you were there. my heart was bursting with love for that beautiful room, the music we danced to, the words we spoke, the warm hugs we gave. i felt completely at one with the universe, my journey through life, my moment in time. My head was at one with my heart: i wanted nothing except to be in that room. i was completely and utterly at peace in the midst of people from all over the globe, music, laughter, dancing, singing, birthday cake, babies, chatter, noise… in other words in the midst of life.

    my God, last night I knew that i was exactly where I was meant to be and that I have absolutely the life I want, the life I am meant to have, the life I can have if I get out of the way!
    nothing external had changed from the day before, i had however written my truth and so relieved my own internal (created by myself) pressure. i had emptied my head and so removed my own internal filters/shutters/barriers/giant stirring spoons.
    i was able to open my eyes and my heart again, and see and feel what i have already and the worth of it. it was all there in that room.

    i believe that as long as i try to follow my heart and be true to myself i will feel these ‘connected’ moments more often (i know that i will, because i already have).
    i believe that if i follow my heart, then i will walk more in tune with the flow of the universe, my higher self, the real reason i was created, and so i will feel more connected, more of the time.
    that is my belief and so that is why i try to follow my heart: basically because i love that feeling of being utterly complete.

    but in trying to follow my heart i think i will always have periods of discomfort when my head, and all my ‘mind baggage’ tries to intervene… yes it will probably always be that way, and that is normal and that is ok.
    i think is is all part of being human.

    in the end i believe that ‘the life i want’ is about how i feel inside. my happiest moments are when i feel ‘connected’ as i have described. it is such an expansive and free feeling that i think i might burst or fly!
    i feel those moments ‘mas y mas’ these days and that gives me my answer, not perhaps to ‘the life i want?’ but to ‘the path i want to be on?’ The answer is yes. Absolutely and definitely, yes.

    thank you for your comment because it made me think a little harder about what i really feel today, after writing the original post yesterday… like a process: it took me a long time originally to try to put into words how I felt. It’s not easy to explain this stuff and put it across perhaps exactly how you feel it: it’s all a bit elusive. But I’m glad I tried, and I will keep trying.

    let’s talk soon, SC

  7. dear psyche

    thank you for your recommendation.
    i have looked it up on amazon and i have already asked a friend to bring it from the states, and if she can’t get it in time for her flight, then i will ask the next person who comes here.
    i will so look forward to receiving and reading.

    and just in case anyone else is interested in the book or in Julia Cameron, here is the website of ‘The Artist’s Way’:
    http://www.theartistsway.com/?section=1

    SC

  8. dear Becky in Tokyo

    that poem made me cry this morning
    thank you for sending it to me, sharing it on my blog’s pages, giving it the chance to touch me

    ‘those who surround me here know me well’

    yes we all know don’t we how it is to be human.
    and to connect with others who understand or who can share their experience is so precious.

    ‘but simply to be accepted
    as part of an undeniable Reality,
    like stones and trees.’

    the beauty of this blog to me is that it enables me to reach people are willing to share with me, perhaps because they identify with something i say: to share something of their experience of being human, of their part in the ‘undeniable Reality’.

    through the fog of the past month as i have wrestled with what i ‘should’ be writing, i have come to appreciate this blog… instead of thinking, I need to write a book, I began to see that until that time comes (or if it does not) i have a special and unique place to write where people really do come to read.

    i know i reach people who see what i want to share.
    i began to see that in itself this blog has a beauty and a purpose. and perhaps it is actually what i am meant to be writing…

    for this moment in time, as i have said about something else before perhaps,
    ‘it is beautiful and it is enough’.

    with respect to the ‘happily ever after’… i wrote a bit more today in answer to stilllifeinbuenosaires and i think it gives a little more of what i believe about my own ongoing journey. i do hope you will read it…

    thank you from my heart for reading and sharing and connecting with me across the globe.

    SC

  9. hi alan, and thank you.
    i am hoping a friend will bring me a copy in a week or so when she arrives from the USA but if not, i will let you know.
    are you back?

    hugs, SC

  10. Hey, Sally

    It was a pleasure meeting you yesterday, even if we didn´t get to talk as much, and a true delight to read your reflections here today. I loved the honesty conveyed in this post and in your comments above… I think it´s all about finding our way, not settling, and enjoying the moments of connection.

  11. These are words I live by from author Joseph Campbell:

    “We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”

    Ask your friend to bring you a copy of Simple Abundance–A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach and The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success–A Practical Guide to the Fulfillment of Your Dreams by Deepak Chopra.

  12. Hi Marce

    And it was a pleasure for me to meet you too.
    Am so glad that you looked at my blog. I have looked at yours too and my goodness those yummy desserts!!!

    Yes the moments of connection are so beautiful and absolutely we must enjoy them. And there is no doubt in my mind that we have the power within us to both increase the quantity of those ‘moments’ and the length of time they last.

    I wish you many of them. And I hope that we may meet again, perhaps over a chocolate eclair…

    SC

  13. Hi Jantango

    “We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”

    Now that is a wonderful quote and so, so true.

    I can really identify with it based on the last few years of my life, I can draw something from it to help me keep an ‘open’ present and it also offers a huge amount of hope for any future.
    I am going to print it and keep it close to me.

    Thank you so much for sharing it with me, and the books too. I will arrange for them to come.

    SC

  14. […] Friday evening I took action. I wrote my truth on these pages : I found the courage and the confidence to do so. And I moved from uncomfortable to […]

  15. Hi Sally, if you haven’t already ordered the book and your friend is not able to bring it, I can. I have a copy of The Artist’s Way. 🙂

  16. Hi Caroline

    I will let you know if it comes or not. If it does not then I will be very happy to take you up on your offer.
    AND I can’t wait to see you!

    SC

  17. beautiful poem~ thank you.

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