Sedna and recently discovered dwarf planet, 2012 VP113, at the far reaches of our solar system. Image Credit: Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute (JHUAPL/SwRI)

“Living without a horizon is one of the greatest distractions. It cramps the imagination; it stifles the soul’s need for wildness, for adventure, or simply for free breathing.” ~ Tom Cowan, in The Celtic Way

It’s true.

Living without a worthy horizon, a new frontier of exploration and purpose, a stirring sense of mission, is more than just a distraction or something only privileged people have the ‘luxury’ of thinking about.

Far from it.

It’s more like being stuck in thick mud or quicksand that sucks the very life-force out of us, leaving us feeling apathetic, deflated, resigned; or angry and fundamentalist, acting out in ‘shadow’ ways.

There are times and circumstances that close in on us and distract us from the horizon by calling so much of our attention and energy to the mire that we, for a time, feel devoid of vision, and with it, purpose, and direction.

Sometimes we’re just in between visions the previous one, having found expression, has grown old and the life created from it dies. A fresh vision and the life it seeds, orients, and animates hasn’t yet taken form.

The Lady of Shalott (John William Waterhouse, 1894)
The Lady of Shalott (John William Waterhouse, 1894)

At other times, we may be chasing someone else’s vision, so it just never really feels all that heartful or inspired to us; and ultimately our heart and soul let us know.

It’s hard to sustain motivation and resilience at the best of times, not to mention the more challenging or life-upending ones, when we’re chasing a “should do,” Not-Us Vision.

That’s both common in our culture, and exhausting and depressing, ultimately.

What’s more, fake-vision chasing is not all that fulfilling even before the disillusionment and fatigue sets in. We just pretend it is, ignoring the signs until they’re huge and loud, which just adds to the inevitable exhaustion.

Been there. Done that. Hit that wall going a thousand miles an hour, so I’m speaking from experience here.

So I’d wish it a bit easier, a bit more graceful for others.

Do you know these places, too?

Perhaps like me, you know them very well, as do any of us who do risk and dare the uncertain places and fierce edges of life (whether intentionally or not!), or who have moved (or move) through a seemingly endless mine-field of challenges and life-altering upheavals.

Sisyphys, Pushing the Boulder Up the Hill, 1548-49, by Titian.
Sisyphys, Pushing the Boulder Up the Hill, 1548-49, by Titian.

In such times and cycles, whether we’re in between visions or have finally given up (willingly or not) the chase of the Not-Us Visions, we have little real choice but to wait in this In-Between, impatient, seemingly stuck, for the ‘vision that pulls’.

Why not push it, “make it happen?”

Again.

Because pushing it pretty much means we’ll be chasing another prepackaged vision and mission that is not ours. There’s no heart, no joy, no sense of meaning in it for us.

But hey, we can (and often do, if you’re like me) go all “Sisyphus,” pushing that boulder up the hill again and again, as often as we need to, watching the boulder roll back down, pushing it back up, ad nauseum and to exhaustion. Stir and repeat.

There is a hard-won secret here that we begin to get an inkling of once we’ve experienced this in-between a few times:

We begin to learn that our focus, where we allot the fuller measure of our attention and thus our life-force — moreso than our circumstances — makes a difference in the quality of our waiting time.

The experience while awaiting the new vision that calls our eye to the worthy horizon, and the purpose-mission-fuel that sustains us through the inevitable challenges of the next cycle or transformative passage.

Yes, of course we notice and feel and sense and wrestle with the constriction, and rail at the seeming intractability of the circumstances and forces, seen and unseen. I do, more often that I’d like.

We’re juicy, warm-hearted, purpose-full, meaning-seeking humans, not unfeeling clone auto-bots, despite the seeming attempts by some to make us believe we’re the latter.

Weirdly, for strange reasons of human complexity, sometimes even those who are close to us can be Vision-deflators — ‘discouraging mirrors‘ rather than anam cara ‘believing mirrors’.

At Aphrodite's Cradle, by Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema.
At Aphrodite’s Cradle, by Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema.

But more and more, we can choose to draw our focus from a bit more from what’s gone, what’s stagnant, what’s missing, what’s not happening, what’s “wrong,” what’s “not enough,” and we begin to gather, cultivate, and tend the current ground in expectation of the emerging green.

With our consciously focused attention, we till the soil and fertilize the ground for the emerging vision-that-pulls, a fresh and worthy mission or horizon, or the emerging desirable story as the visionary Caroline Casey calls it.

The Worthy Quest.

We wait for it, watch for it, listen for it, feel for it, expect it with every sense (including the body wisdom, a.k.a. spidey senses).

We learn to see and hear and feel the clues. Yes, it can be more like that than a neon banner in the sky (though it could happen!).

We learn to discern and follow that clue trail.

This sounds a much easier practice than it is, truly, because we’re conditioned for habitual, often mindless pushing, doing, activity for the sake of staying busy (regardless where it takes us).

It’s a practice, but perhaps one of the worthiest, because apathy and resignation — prolonged — are a form of walking dead.

Instead, we’re Walking Life.

We tend the current ground with reverent attention on the sacred in mundane things, cultivating certain meaningful and satisfying ways of being, nourishing ourselves (and perhaps others, too) with inspiration and soul-and-imagination food that beckons our attention to the horizon (rather than our feet), while all the while inviting that renewed vision or a fresh sense of worthy mission like a joyfully anticipated if somewhat shy visitor.

In this space of tending and extending invitation, we clear and allow space enough to actually receive new vision or mission-clues, and finally, like dawn (though often a bit more sudden and unexpected!), it arrives to pull us into the next rung on the spiral, our next adventure.

Sometimes the In-Between is easier with a map, even if that map is one of process rather than a precise, detailed plan (which really must wait for and serve a compelling vision anyway!).

And it’s surely a bit easier, a bit more graceful, with one or (if we’re very, very fortunate) two or three, true-blue Believing Mirrors. Those who know, who’ve been initiated in these grounds by way of their own lived experience.

The Titan's Goblet (1833) by Thomas Cole.
The Titan’s Goblet (1833) by Thomas Cole.

Find more inspiration to fertilize the ground and stir the cauldron of your worthy horizon and stirring mission

There’s a lot here at Sophia’s Children to nourish you.

Start with this musing on our Vision journey and quest — and the many landscapes we pass through:

Without Vision …

For more personalized vision-clarifying and momentum-stirring…

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Big Love,

Jamie

In the Orchard (1912) by Franz Dvorak. Public domain image courtesy of Wikimedia.
In the Orchard (1912) by Franz Dvorak. Public domain image courtesy of Wikimedia.

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Lots of love,

Jamie