© 2014 Marica

Signposts

While on a walk around the Tokaanu natural thermal area earlier this week, I noticed a plant I had never seen before. It was covered in seed pods that looked like peas. As I looked more closely at the different coloured pods I wondered if they were the flowers of this plant.

I loved the softness of the pink pods with their graduated colouring from a darker pink through to an extremely pale pink that looked almost white. These pink pods looked fleshy and full of vitality. They looked like they could burst open at any moment and expose what lay within. The pale green pods were a complete contrast. They looked so young as though they were only just beginning life. It was the black pods that had the greatest impact on me. They stood out boldly and proudly. They talked to me of strength and individuality even though they looked a bit shrivelled up. The hairs on the edges of these darker pods looked all fuzzy, soft and inviting. I wanted to reach out and stroke them and make a physical connection. They reminded me of a beautiful soft shawl enveloping and protecting everything beneath its folds. I was taken by this open expression of softness and fragility that would normally be hidden from public view. I saw before me an expression of contrasting extremes that appeared so natural and comfortable together. These black pods resonated a completely different kind of energy that I loved and connected with. As I spent time looking at these black pods my mind wandered to what it was like to be older and the many life lessons we learn as we age. I considered picking one of the pods so I could look inside but this somehow seemed wrong to me. I didn’t want to disturb the natural flow and process that was taking place.

I took a number of photos of this plant but it was this grouping of black pods suspended horizontally in the air that I connected with deeply. The pods looked striking against the backdrop of the foliage green foliage and the way they were grouped reminded me of the direction signposts we see on our roads. I felt these black pods were trying to talk to me only there were no words to guide me so I could understand their message.

Over the past year I have questioned many decisions I have made that relate to my dreams of living a different kind of life. I am craving the desire to do the work I want to be doing without compromising a sustainable existence for myself and my family. I have dreamed of this change for many years and have spent a huge amount of time, energy and money on preparing myself for this new way of working and living. As I come to the crossroads of needing to make a decision about which direction I will take, I find myself wondering whether it may not be more appropriate to quit instead of persist. Is my dream idealistic and unrealistic? I have fluctuated all year on my answer to this question.

Yesterday I was reading an article in the latest issue of the Flow magazine (a Christmas present to myself) about research focused on quitting based on the book Mastering the Art of Quitting: Why it Matters in Life, Work and Love by Peg Streep and Alan Bernstein. In a nutshell the article was saying that we are programmed to persist but this doesn’t always serve us well and sometimes we need to stop trying so hard and move on to something else.

Heroism isn’t only found in perseverance; sometimes it’s heroic to stop persevering. It can be terrifying to quit doing something; you don’t know if  things will turn out as you hope. Yet, the key to a happier life is daring to accept when something isn’t working for you, and make room for new opportunities. Because quitting is never the end. It’s the first step to a better future.

Source: Streep, P. (2014, December). Mastering the art of quitting. Flow, 7, pp. 72-73.

After reading this article I started to wonder whether the time had come to finally make the decision to give up on my dream of working more creatively with people and being able to spend time developing my own art. I am enrolled to begin in January the clinical year of a three year training programme at Masters level to become an arts therapist. I have wanted this so much but the toll it has taken on me and my family as I work full-time in a demanding job and study full-time has been immense. This is like a two edged sword because I need both to make the dream a reality – one provides the funds to pursue the other.

After looking at my black pods I realise they aren’t telling me to stop. Quitting isn’t the answer. They are telling me to keep going (as is that fire that burns constantly within me). My whole being wants this despite the benefits quitting might bring me. I know I have the ability, skills and drive to make my dream real even if I am a bit tired at the moment. I am going to persevere. The black pods are guiding me. They are a sign that I need to keep going and pick the path I want to take and see what happens. If that doesn’t work there is always another way – another route to take.

Today, I am making the commitment to myself to persevere and stop wasting energy on questioning the path I have chosen to take. I am taking charge. If it doesn’t work out as I anticipated, I will re-assess the situation and make a new plan.

Manifesto
04. Every day is an opportunity to cultivate the promise of the future.
36. Every day be still. Connect to your inner being. Listen and be guided by it.
38. Every day be brave and give things a go. Use fear to trigger you into action.

2 Comments

  1. Posted December 29, 2014 at 9:07 am | #

    I’m known for perseverance and persistence. Am not one who quits until it has often cost way too much. But I think the answer to the question of quitting vs. perseverance is the nature of that which we consider.

    Every spring for the past four years I’ve asked The Universe if I should quit as a writer. I’ve progressed in fits and starts, have not produced the Big Dream, am perhaps delusional. And almost immediately an unexpected recognition or acceptance of my work manifests that I can only interpret as an answer to keep going (since I don’t believe in coincidence). And I say OK, I’ll go on. Always holding the Vision as a placemarker, doing something that feeds the progress, even if slowly, until the next spring when I ask once more, “should I quit.” This year, however, I won’t be asking the question. Because I feel something whole and alive inside me, and around the Vision. As if I see the light at the end of the tunnel, know IT’s happening, NOW. My bus has pulled up to the curb, is idling, waiting for me.

    I just listened to Paulo Coelho on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday. He says we all know our Legend (aka Purpose). It is the fire that burns inside us. It is our job to pursue it, do it. This fire has burned hot and bright inside you for a very, very long time, Marica. I am so glad you are not quitting. *This* is not one to quit. And I have plans for you, with me. And it’s going to be fun. Yea

  2. Posted December 29, 2014 at 12:31 pm | #

    Thank you Heloise for your insightful reflection and response. I too feel our paths are connected in some way that is yet to fully be revealed. By the way, I can’t wait to hear about the plans you have for me.

    Having our plans change for Christmas turned out to be quite a gift. The last few days have been immersed in doing very little and recharging our beings. None of us left the house for four days except Lynsey went to the supermarket to buy some milk! As a result of this timeout I feel connected to the fire within again. It also feels so good to be back here at Fresh New Day, although I can’t believe the effort it takes to get back into this commitment. I suppose that is true of all good things in our life – the fire can’t keep burning without fuel and gathering that fuel can take a lot of work.

    I have no idea how I am going to get through this coming year – then again, I didn’t know how I was going to manage the previous two years either. My biggest challenge at the moment is to get my research dissertation completed. I had to get a six week extension for this and realistically I need to get my writing finished this week because I start work again on Monday (5 January).

    Heloise – I can’t wait for the fun you talk about. Like you I am also known for my perseverance and persistence and it has always paid off for me. I have also walked away from situations that weren’t serving me well and never regretted these decisions. Some things are meant to be and others aren’t but when you’re tired things become hazy and the doubt creeps in. I’ve just realised what my word for 2015 might need to be – trust. Shaun McNiff, an inspirational arts therapist I had the blessing of meeting and doing a workshop with, coined the phrase “trust the process” and this is with me all the time because I struggle with trust when it comes to my dreams and my life.

    Much love to you and your family, Marica xo

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