Here it is the middle of January. Already. I have been writing about intentions, and yet, I don't seem to have any. Sure, I want to write more and eat less. Exercise more and eat less. I want to disperse more possessions and acquire less, (and eat less!) but these not unfamiliar notions are vague and uninspiring at best.
I am impressed by my friend who last year set her intention to walk an hour every day, and I am intrigued by the writer Susan Hill who decided to read for one whole year only books she already owned. (Howard's End is on the Landing, A Year of Reading from Home by Susan Hill). Or how impressive is Nina Sankovitch who read an entire book every single day and discovered a way to cope with and grow through grief and loss (Tolstoy and the Purple Chair, My Year of Magical Reading). And then there is the memorable and entertaining decision to cook every recipe in Julia Child's iconic French cookbook in one year, which resulted in a bestselling memoir and a movie starring Meryl Streep no less. Finally, yesterday I read about a Madison woman who was preparing to turn 60 last year and set 60 goals for herself, including climbing 60,000 feet, practicing the piano for 60 minutes for 60 days, reading 6,000 pages, identifying 60 birds in Costa Rica and doing 60 push-ups at one time. I am almost grateful I am past 60 and not tempted to follow her example, but 65 looms!
On the surface some of these intentions seem gimmicky, and yet, underneath there seems to be a desire for transformation. Were these women of intention aware of the potential for inner growth that could result by meeting the challenges of one's intentions? And just what did they learn and how did they change by keeping their intentions? And how did they arrive at their specific intentions?
I can feel an idea forming; an idea that has its origin in several seemingly unrelated circumstances. Bear with me.
#1 In December I walked a labyrinth, and one of the messages I received as I stood in the sacred center space was, "Do what expresses your essence." I also heard "Do and Be who you are." I was so struck by the word "do," for this last decade I think I have been focused on "being" and what that means. But twice I heard the word "DO." No direction about what to do was offered, of course.
#2 This summer a woman I know, but not well, was struck with a dreadful cancer and was in the hospital for quite some time. I knew I wanted to DO something, but I was unsure of what that should be, could be. I decided after some time for discernment to write to her every day while she was in the hospital. I continue to write to her occasionally even now. As I wrote to her during those weeks, I felt I was doing one good thing. I was offering a measure of reflection, a daily meditation. I was extending wishes for healing. I was opening to connection. For at least those moments every day I held her in my heart.
#3 I have a wonderful antique desk, my Lady's Writing Desk, which has been the setting, the container for hours and hours of writing over the years. Journals and essays and teaching plans and yes, letters. Lots and lots of letters. Its location in this house, however, has never felt quite right to me. When I did sit there, I felt shoved in a corner, boxed in, and my energy felt blocked. And guess what? I have written few letters since living here; something I had always enjoyed in the past. Well, dear reader, I moved my Lady's Writing Desk, and the pleasure of writing letters, the desire to write on paper, instead of a screen, has returned.
Therefore, here is my intention for this year: I will write a letter every day. I don't have this all figured out yet, but I know this is something I can DO and need to DO and that DOING it is an expression of my essence. I know deep in my heart that when we live our essence the Sacred, the Divine, is more visible and is felt and known more.
I will start today. Day #1 of my intention. Letter #1.