“Do you have the patience to wait ‘til your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving ‘til the right action arises by itself? The master doesn’t seek fulfillment. Not seeking, not expecting, she is present and can welcome all things.” – Tao Te Ching
On the road since October 1, not staying in any one location for longer than four days, I fell into a state of exhaustion after arriving to my friend’s place in Oakland. After a crazy Halloween night in San Francisco, my body called out quits. Illness and endless hours of sleep creeped into the days to follow.
I’m not good at time-outs. My “go, go, go” personality makes it difficult for my mind and body to connect, therefore I’m more apt to keep plunging forward without realizing the mental and physical toll constant movement takes on my brain and body. It’s not until I hit a breaking point, such as an infection that can only be treated by antibiotics (hooray for free California women’s healthcare!), that I finally take a step back and realize my body is calling a time-out.
Time-outs happen in everyone’s lives. Sometimes they create a radical shift within your journey, such as learning you have cancer. Other times they’re profound revelations, which change your perspective on life. And sometimes they’re small time-outs, nearly insignificant, encouraging you to be still, listen, and reflect. Always, no matter the situation, if you look deep enough into the primal basis of a time-out then amazing revelations can be disclosed. Examining the time-out can tell you what you need and don’t need, where you are in your journey, how the different players in your journey are innately connected, and where and how you hope to carry forward on your journey’s path.
My California time-out allowed me a time of reflection and introspection that I needed, but was reluctant to provide for myself. Through past experiences I’ve learned that I must harness internal restlessness in order to create change in my life. Remaining unmoving within my time-outs is always a challenge. I find myself constantly brainstorming ways I can leave, places to go, jobs to apply to, and friends to move in with.
By holding still in California my anxiety about the future rose. With less than a month left on my Greyhound ticket, my lack of solidified plans after the holiday season creeped into my mind. Though I knew that writing and travel were necessary components to my future, I didn’t have a concrete idea for how to make it happen. Yet, when I became completely still and present in my surroundings and embraced my anxiety instead of running from it, I refocused my direction and knew what was truly important to me, which has helped me dictate my next move.
Relationships, writing, and undiscovered adventure are my top three motivations in my current journey. I learned through therapy that my biggest fear in life is failure. As long as I acknowledge both my fears and motivations and remain present, I strongly believe I can welcome all experiences that propel my trek through life.
After giving myself a two week time-out in California, I have a premature plan developed for the following six months of my life, many of it including introspections and discovered places since being on the road. Though no plans have been solidified I have confidence that in being present I can welcome all things.
The next time you’re faced with a time-out, recognize that you don’t have be constantly running in order to progress in your journey, as movement requires brief moments of stillness to summon the energies to keep going.