Taking most of August off this year to drive west was an incredible gift as it gave me time to dream into what the next chapter of my life might hold, especially if it includes a move to another place. After returning I was reminded of a concept credited to David Whyte about life’s beautiful question. As I understand the idea, a beautiful question is one that inspires and scares us at the same time. In my case, it’s something like, “where would I live if I could go anywhere?” which intrigues me and I wonder if I could ever really just pick up and go.
The most important aspect of this beautiful question is in not answering too quickly but letting yourself just live into the question. Then instead of an answer, we receive an invitation to get curious and notice what arises within us. Often overlooked because our mind is so busy thinking up various answers, is how our body responds to the question – and in those responses there is deep wisdom. David Whyte phrases this question as, “What do I already know that I haven’t let myself overhear?”
Back to my 4300 mile, 2 ½ week trip: what I learned was that it was both daunting to consider moving anywhere else but my hometown since 1971, and a breath-taking opportunity to consider other landscapes, grocery stores and communities. In my body I noticed that my feet became very heavy, which I read as a reluctance to move – as if playing it safe was going to be much more satisfying. At the same time I noticed an ease of breathing in my chest and shoulders, which I read as a comfort with the adventure of letting many places call me.
For now I’m letting both responses live in me and am giving myself the gift of living into the beautiful question and refusing to make a decision just yet. What I know is that there isn’t an urgency to decide right now, and even though my mind for plans and details isn’t too crazy about this I’m learning to stretch into the discomfort of not knowing rather quickly trying to come up with an answer. Being ok with this paradox is, in fact, right where I need to be living right now and until my body shares some other wisdom with me I’m fine staying here and being content with what I do know – that living in life’s beautiful question is a gift.