What matters most?
What is the point?
Where and how can you find yourself?
Part Three: NOW
My personal retreat has come and gone, so I'm bringing you a final message in this three-part series. I've been asked quite a bit since I returned: "How was your trip?!"
It was exactly what I needed.
...but I don't want to fool you and paint a fairytale image of things. Parts of it felt like crap. I had an ovarian cyst rupture that kept me on the couch for days. I faced and worked with resolving pervasive fears. I sat uncomfortably in the question of what actually has meaning? ... which, let me tell you, is a super unsettling, existential kind of thing to explore. I also had confronting disagreements with my partner who came on part of the trip with me.
Those scenarios had SO much feeling to them, so much charge and even angst. But I wanted to explain it a bit because that's what's real... ups, downs, clarity, confusion.
I spent the first couple of weeks of the trip waiting for the answers to come- to solve the questions in my mind about who I was, what I wanted, what I should do with my life, what life even was to me.
By the third week, a lot had changed, and I had no more questions. I had a peace and presence about me... and I didn't care what I did or what I should "do" about anything.
I had rediscovered what truly mattered (to me, at least).
Now. Now matters.
Future vs Now
I had become a pretty future-oriented person over the years. I spent a decade imagining what my future would look like: when I would be "healed," when I would be a "healer," when I would have a healthy partner and relationship.... all one day in the future.
Since 2016, I've been excited, passionate, building my business, sharing what I know in videos and podcasts, giving everything I could with such joy and enthusiasm. I had goals I wanted to hit, a business I wanted to grow, people I wanted to help. Along the way, I cultivated my intuition to help me tap into my potential futures and used those insights to steer my life, decisions, feelings. It worked quite well.
But within a handful of years (aka now), I was living what I had once dreamed about.
It was time to let go of the future and be here.
Goodness was that a crisis kind of feeling, though! We are conditioned to do far more than we are taught to be. Who are you without the doing?
What is it to just be here now without striving, reaching, dreaming?
It Doesn't Matter if You Aren't Here for it
I can tell you that none of that matters if you aren't here, in the now, present to the unfolding of your journey along the way. Eventually you'll get to where you wanted to be. You'll have achieved, arrived, succeeded, accomplished... and then what?
That's when/why I went off for weeks with my dog into the quiet and beauty of Arizona to answer that very question... what actually matters?
What has meaning... and why?
What is your happiness? Where does it come from? If it is attached to any one thing, then what do you do when that thing changes?
Who are you REALLY...? (apart from everything you've been identifying with...?)
I'll tell you what I've reconnected with....
Birds, Horses, Sky
Birds matter. Horses matter. The sky matters. The sun rising and setting matters. Being with yourself matters. Being here matters. Breathing matters. Now matters.
While I was gone I read No Time Like the Present, which helped me to remember so much about life and existence that I had lost touch with...
He talks a lot about vastness, the expanse we're in, opening to it all...
That matters. That is home, at least for me.
We can get really spun out in our current reality... social media, a pandemic, violence, fear-riddled news, toxic work environments, health struggles... the list goes on.
So, when I say 'birds matter'.... it's because I watched them, listened to them and observed their daily routines for days on end while I was away. The same with horses, the sky, breathing. I observed it all. And it expanded me, expanded my consciousness, into such a greater context, a greater meaning, a greater connection.
This is what I wrote in my journal about it...
There were so many experiences I felt I needed… and I’ve had them. There were so many iterations of life I wanted, and I’ve had them.
Yes, it does feel strange to not know what matters, to see life the way I currently do, where it feels the joy has gotten sucked out a bit, where only the simple things are speaking to me … like walking with Henry, looking at the sky, being in quiet places.
So it has me looking deeper, but in contemplation...
It has me going back to the simplest things. And then I can find meaning again.
- I can find meaning in the birds pecking the ground in the morning; the quail, blazing fast, running across the street with their babies; all of them hiding in the bushes in the rain.
-I can find the meaning in watching the skies change throughout the day… seeing the storms roll in from the east, sometimes in a fury, and eventually give way to a blue sky again.
-I can find the meaning in the horse standing mostly still under a tree in the late morning, swatting at flies, sometimes stomping them off, just being there and then wandering back to the shade for a snack of hay.
-I can find meaning in the cold mountain air, how the temperature can change so quickly… and even as it chills me, at least I can feel it, it moves me, it changes me, it inspires me to act, it lets me know who I am.
So, in all of that, I’m actually still the same person I’ve always been.
Bringing it Home with Me
I feel wiser, more peaceful, more integrated, and so much more here after this retreat.
And would you believe it?!...
One recent morning, as I was settling into my new home I had just moved into, I happened to look out the bathroom window. Mere feet from me was a momma bird (mourning dove), papa bird and two little babies all hanging out in their nest on the wall. I watched as the parents fed their babies for minutes on end- something I had never seen in person before.
Certainly it was no coincidence that what captured the most meaning for me while I was away- the birds doing their daily thing, nature in perfect motion and harmony- was right here with me, for me, to simply enjoy.
CONCLUSION: Be Here, Natural Rhythms, Enjoyment
Being here. Being now. Being part of this natural unfolding with all earth's creatures and natural rhythms. Being part of this. Being.
... and finding things to enjoy along the way!
Without that- the fundamentals, the basics- then what are you?
Balance exists in following the natural flow, the rising and setting sun, the in and out of your breath, the waking and sleeping cycles of this realm we live in. That is what roots and grounds us. That is what makes sense.
If you get too caught up in the incessant motion of the mind, desire for achievement, pull of life's dramas, other people's ideas/opinions, the endless things to be/do/have...
then that's all your life will be and become.
It's ok if it goes that way. It's normal. But I don't think it's what actually matters.
You matter. You doing absolutely nothing but b e i n g matters.
The rest is details, striving, trying, and moving inch by inch out of alignment with what you really are: the bird, the horse, the sky, the earth.
Sending my love to you. Thank you for being on this journey with me.
READ PART ONE: FEAR
READ PART TWO: A STATE OF BEING
Dr. Cailin O'Hara is a passionate provider, mentor, and forever student of life here to translate her experiences into hope, wisdom and light.