I have been trying a new approach lately to achieving my goals. Instead of having a large vague goal and then fretting over how to achieve it, I have been trying the opposite: picturing my goal very specifically, thinking about how it will make me feel, then taking small steps without really knowing how I will get there. Like walking through a strange room in the dark, one small step at a time, being careful not to stub my toes on the furniture, but making my way towards the door that I know is at the far end of the room.
It was challenging at first – and still is from time to time – because it requires a level of trust in the universe, that things will work out without my having a clear plan for getting from where I am to where I want to be. This is unlike me. As an arranger and an organizer, I have been more used to creating project plans that are detailed enough to get us from point A to point B. Some people say that they are a little too detailed – my friend Tony said once that I am obsessive but, he added generously, not compulsive — and even I agree that they are sometimes a little too specific for comfort.
So to walk forward, confidently yet slowly, without knowing how to get exactly where I am going, is a little daunting. The other day, I was wallowing in this feeling of uncertainty, repeating to myself that the universe would provide, and not really believing it.
At the same time, I had been doing a meditation where you picture your chi getting larger and larger, until it encompasses the entire universe, becoming one with all things. I like this meditation because it reminds me of a children’s story about a little girl who kept trying to fill the emptiness she felt inside her.
She tried eating and got fat; she tried drinking but then she just had to pee all the time; she threw herself into play with her friends, staying at their homes until their mothers sent her home; she read and studied and got smarter; she danced until she fell down exhausted – no matter what she did she still felt empty.
Her mother took her to the doctor who checked her pulse and her ears and her eyes. Then the doctor had her stick out her tongue and say Ah. He looked down her throat and found the problem: the little girl’s body contained the entire universe, vast reaches of unfilled space. So no matter what she did, she would always have this space inside her, which she was interpreting as emptiness.
When she realized that, she stopped trying to fill the emptiness and used it as a storage place for all the thoughts and feelings that she experienced, knowing that, no matter what happened, she always had room to take it all in.
So why, I asked myself after doing this meditation one morning, do I have such trouble trusting the universe to give me a path to what I want?
And thinking of the little girl with the universe inside her, it occurred to me that it wasn’t the universe that I was having trouble trusting.
It was myself.
So now I am adjusting my approach to this question and, whenever I feel I have to do more, I have to stand still in the pitch black room until I learn to see in the dark, or whenever I stub my toe and feel like giving up on my journey, I remind myself that trusting the universe is trusting myself.
And take one more step.