“I know how to go, go, go. Stopping, I’ve learned, is the stuff of mastery.”
— Danielle LaPorte
Sometimes you find yourself at an impasse, pondering which direction to pursue. Of course, there are many directions, Up, Down, Sideways, North, South, East, West, Left, Right, each with its own consequences. Puzzling over the right direction to pursue creates anxiety and confusion, not to mention the ever-present fear of failure.
Lately, I’ve agonized over the direction to follow around two intentions. As a multitasker, I’m often moving in several directions at once. But something is happening in my life right now. I’m twisting and turning, and, despite putting in, I am making no meaningful progress despite putting in what I think is a lot of effort. Then an answer surfaced during my morning meditation. Spirit gave me the direction to S-T-O-P. One of my favorite spiritual teachers has an expression that he’ll say after he has dropped a nuanced nugget of wisdom. He will smile, restate the nugget, and say, “I want you just to let that land.”
Stopping is discomforting to me. And S-T-O-P isn’t really a direction. It can mean different things, in different situations, for varied reasons. Let that land. Suppose a person is interested in attracting a certain kind of relationship and a potential partner appears. They may go on several dates, but then it becomes clear that the relationship between the two parties isn’t flowing into place, and the partners are not addressing critical issues. If the conversation in one’s head sounds something like this, “if only I were more understanding or patient,” or “If only he or she would just listen to me.” Honestly, that relationship isn’t going anywhere. Why expend time and energy trying to make a relationship in which would-be partners are not compatible work? STOP.
Other times the cessation of activity around a particular goal or intention does not mean that you should not continue the journey. Lack of movement could mean something else. For example, during the pandemic, while serving as a caregiver for elderly parents, one of whom (my mother) transitioned, and producing a weekly radio show, I managed to have a novel converted into an audiobook self-publish two new books. One of the novels was the third in a detective series and the second book was a delightful holiday romance. In addition to publishing those novels, my task list included converting another book in my detective series into an audiobook and focusing on making my intellectual property profitable.
There are many self-published authors, but not many of us are generating enough revenue to leave our day jobs. So I decided to consult outside of my comfort zone with an author and consultant with the sales revenue I can only aspire to. My consultant provided me with insights about building a sales strategy and, more importantly, a list of adjustments geared to (if executed) position me to generate increased revenue. And yet, to date, I have made only minimal progress toward taking the advice of this paid consultant. So what is wrong with me?
I have concluded that the well is dry and needs renewal and replenishment. I draw that metaphor from my time in rural Liberia when the Liberia Sewer and Water System shut down during the early months of the Civil War in Liberia. To get water for drinking and cooking, local men dug a deep hole connected to an underground water source on an empty lot located next to my home on Chubor Road. At daybreak, neighbors from the surrounding houses would arrive at the hole with clean buckets tied to thick ropes and draw clean water. But if we arrived late, all the water was gone, and it wasn’t until the next morning that the well was refilled.
Reflecting upon my emotionally and physically exhausting past year, I allow myself grace to replenish my wellspring. My stoppage is more of a pregnant pause and a deviation from my normal method of operating, which is to dive headfirst into things and flail away. Instead, I will order my consultant’s daunting steps into a workable plan, a priority for maximum effectiveness—a plan I can implement along with the other essential aspects of my life. Direction isn’t always movement; sometimes, the direction is to stop, either permanently or pause, until the preparation and timing are right. Let that land!
Image: Wiki commons, jpeg.
Susan D. Peters, aka, Ahnydah (ah-NIE-dah) Rahm, brings a wealth of experience gained as an expatriate living in West Africa. Her memoir Sweet Liberia, Lessons from the Coal Pot, received the Black Excellence Award for Non-Fiction from the African American Alliance of Chicago and the Mate E. Palmer award for Non-Fiction from the Illinois Press Women’s Association. Stolen Rainbow, a short story focused on the post combat recovery of a beautiful marine captain after a devastating combat injury. Broken Dolls, represents Susan’s foray into mystery writing and is the first of a series featuring the flawed Detective Joi Sommers as its heroine. The second Joi Sommers mystery, The Iron Collar is a riveting story with multiple ingenious twists, and Slay the Dragon the third in the series, illuminates the sexual exploitation of children in expected and unexpected ways. Her most recent novella, The Chef’s Choice is a delightful holiday romance. Susan’s work is featured in numerous anthologies. Buy her books online and at www.SusanDPeters.com.