Last week my love and I took off for Bend, nestled in Central Oregon. Resting at the basin of more than 7 peaks including these three photographed above, this mountain town always clears my mind and resets my heart.
I didn't go out there in search of answers - I truly went to be in silence and be near family. But just hours into our visit and my journal began to fill with so much....ideas, clarity, quotes, direction, and so much discernment.
I also fell hard into this book. It is as though the author was reading my mind when even I couldn't find the right words. Thomas Moore offered me this quote:
"You do not choose a dark night for yourself. It is given to you. Your job is to get close to it and sift for its gold...it may appear, paradoxically, as a return to living. It pares life down to its essentials and helps you get a new start."
It may appear, paradoxically, as a return to living. Yes. These were the words I couldn't find. This is the thing most self-development misses for me. With the hyper-focus on improving and progress, we conveniently forget that most growth is rooted in deeply challenging moments.
I don't believe joy, happiness, trust, or worthiness can be sought independently of a challenge, pain, hardship, or transition. But we seem to forego the latter, or do we really? I have never met a soul who hadn't endured (fill in the blank).
As a coach, my clients primarily come to me for new possibilities; to stretch their current reality and make more space for more of the things they want. In some ways, coaching is the wild west of self-development. It promises brighter futures with fresh starts and the potential to not look back.
I used to love this. I mean, who doesn't like the idea of a clean slate?
It sounds good, right? But expansion without depth is going to be washed away when the flood of life catches up. Why? Because new horizons aren't usually where we seek them.
We think they're in our strategy sessions, our shelves of books, our outlines of plans, and our promise to do better tomorrow. What if we were wrong? What if your next horizon is tucked inside your current conundrum?
Conundrums used to be pathologized, diagnosed, and medicated. For some, they still are. If all you seek is progress, then you know how inconvenient struggle in the midst of it is. It appears like a roadblock with no way through, and the default solution? To get busy moving the darn struggle out of the way.
But what if it IS the way?
And thus I am back at the quote above - a paradoxical return to living. Could it be that the very things we want to wish away and have quickly removed from our vault of experiences are the very things that can rebirth our lives?
Sometimes in my work I feel a bit alone, because while my clients come to me to help them carve new horizons, I am far more interested in excavating what brought you here in the first place. And this simply isn't everyone's cup of tea.
But for those who don't mind sitting with this for a moment, I can (almost)guarantee you'll find purpose, reverence, meaning, that you matter, clarity, peace of mind, direction, and ease. Yes, really.
Funny, that all sounds a lot like progress ;)