The next chapter in Nepo's The One Life We're Given describes the process of growing larger (through building careers and our life stories) and then smaller again (as we move past our ambition) "the ways a storm builds only to dissipate." Though we know Inigo isn't quite ready to abandon his goals at this point in the story, we would understand if he decided to pursue farming, perhaps, and give up his vengeance seeking.
The irony of deciding to "jettison any particular sense of ambition", says Nepo, is that when we "outlast our will, we exhaust ourselves and let go of the reins, long enough for the horse we're riding to quicken its pace and carry us on." Yep, another message of letting go.
But it is a little more nuanced than that. Learning when to bend what comes our way and when to let go and just go with it - that's the ticket. Leaning in or turning away. Inhabiting life or consuming it. Finding kinship or dominating. There is a time and place for each, but knowing which is when is our challenge.
I think after a heart-wrenching event like the school shooting, we all instinctively lean in a little more. We listen, we hear, we connect. And Nepo hypothesizes that even the slightest lean can cause a butterfly effect...one tiny word, kindness, bit of compassion rolling gently into another until something amazing happens a thousand years after we're gone. I find hope in that thought. We might not live to see it, but our leaning in will make a difference.
He ends the chapter with an explanation of why our skin takes longer to heal as we age - it thins and holds its markings. And he compares that to our spirits, which are "more permanently touched by the world the longer we're here." I know we're all holding the markings of this week's events. Maybe that's a good thing - lest we forget.
This is the final piece begun in the Nancy Frost Begin workshop earlier this month. Her process is magical! Again, it is hard to look at this and know it is watercolor. :)
Jen Walls and her imaJENation