Walking Into Mystery

“It only takes a reminder to breathe, a moment to be still, and just like that, something in me settles, softens, makes space for imperfection. The harsh voice of judgment drops to a whisper and I remember again that life isn’t a relay race; that we will all cross the finish line; that waking up to life is what we were born for. As many times as I forget, catch myself charging forward without even knowing where I’m going, that many times I can make the choice to stop, to breathe, and be, and walk slowly into the mystery.

Danna Faulds

When I walk into the mystery

Comments

  1. Shellie T. says

    When I walk into the mystery… the big things become little and the things I thought were so important become trivial. Why is it I can’t just slow down enough to get to that point more often? I can say that I rarely come to this point, and it usualy takes a life changing moment to get me to look, really look at my life and that which surrounds me in a relaxed way.

    Why can’t I make that choice to become still?

    When 9/11 happened I really stood back and the greatness of my life I thought that surrounded me all fell silent as those walls tumbled to the ground. In disbelief I stood there in my busy morning and things stood still for moments on end. My whole morning sat still, getting my son ready for school and the trivial things I was worried about all didn’t matter anymore.

    I knew things would never be the same world I had lived in up till then. My family became the most important thing to me that morning as the world seemed in chaos and we didn’t know what to expect next. Things settled within my soul, and I then, appreciated things that were seemingly mundane the day before, they became more important to me as I later drove to my parents’ home.

    There were so many things that changed in the days to come afterward and I felt like a new person fresh and alert about the things around me in a new way that took a tragedy to change in me.

    Why can’t I choose or why don’t I know how to choose to live that way more…

    I need to slow down.

    Shellie
    10/15/13

    • says

      Shellie, you make an important point with your piece–how we often wait until extreme situations to break out of the trance of our busy days and habitual lives. You ask a very important question: How can we wake up more often?

    • Adrienne Drake says

      Shellie~9/11 was a wake up call for everyone, or at least it should have been, and I am glad you integrated that into your piece here!
      Adrienne

    • Lori Cooley says

      Shellie, thank you for the reminder to stop and see what is important in our lives. It’s so easy to hurry along, forgetting the past, especially if it was painful. I appreciate that you shared this with us.

    • Lee Xanthippe says

      I love the questioning in this piece and the observation that it usually takes a life-changing moment to slow down, to look in that relaxed way. 9/11 seems a great example of when the entire nation and beyond did this… I liked that the piece started with a more personal voice, connected to that changing event and came full circle with the questioning and striving for the awareness and aliveness and the knowing in the end line that the slowing down is key–thank you!

    • Wendy says

      Shellie, I love the questions you ask in this piece. I like how the piece seems to stand still at times and then moves forward again. Thank you.

    • Karla says

      Thank you for sharing this piece, Shellie. I thought your description of the awakening prompted by 9/11– both its immediate as well as long term impact– was beautiful.

    • Ilana says

      Shellie- As others have said you make a very important point. 9/11 was a brilliant way to drive it home. Nice job. I think that when these things happen, be it a world wide catastrophe or a personal one, we do stop and appreciate what we have. The problem is, at least in my own experience, once things get moving again we forget the very valuable lesson. Shortly before 9/11 I had emergency surgery that saved my life. I had to confront my own mortality. That time, at least, it took me several years to forget but I still need reminding from time to time. Thank you for pointing it out so eloquently. Ilana

    • Judy says

      Shellie, you write directly and clearly in this piece and raise valuable your questions. Thank you. Like others, I’m glad you wrote of 9/11 and the changes we humans experienced and continue to experience. Thank you for the reminder to slow down and walk into the mystery.

    • Terry Gibson says

      Shellie, thanks for sharing this. My points have been made. I also value the reminder to ease off the gas a bit.

  2. Kate Samuels says

    I used to rush towards the habit of rushing.

    Slowing down forces me to walk into the mystery to feel and hear what the mystery has to offer. Walking into the mystery can feel unsettling because mysteries, by definition, are unsolved problems, riddles, and conundrums. In moving forward through day into this precarious place of mystery it can, by habit, feel more comfortable to rush in order to mitigate the fears of the unknown. But mitigating the mystery diminishes the joys.

    A year ago I stood in front of a painting mesmerized by its colors and textures for about twenty minutes. This was joy. It was the first time in a while when I had been physically still for that long. I inquired about the painting, which was far too expensive for me to purchase, but that left me a little richer, with its beauty and with its name: ‘Trusting in the Mystery’.

    Trusting in the mystery, walking into the mystery, shedding our fears into the mystery. Winding through the labyrinth of mystery. When I walk into the mystery, I walk.

    • says

      Kate, thanks for sharing this moment of being utterly stopped by beauty. What a great tribute to the artist–and the potential of art to touch us in the deepest way. I wish you’d been able to buy that painting on the payment plan!

    • Shellie says

      I like that you walked away richer for really seeing that painting, and I love the descriptions you used in this, it made me think more about why I don’t walk in mystery.

    • Adrienne Drake says

      Kate, your description of standing still in front of that painting made me want to be there too. You captured the stillness of that precious moment in time and shared it with us. Thank you.
      Adrienne

    • Lori Cooley says

      Kate, thank you for the reminder to enter with an open heart when we experience life. You showed how stopping and noticing can bring great gifts!

    • Hazel says

      Kate,
      Thank you for sharing. Your paragraph about the painting just blew me away. As an artist I love that you said it “left me a little richer, with its beauty and with its name: ‘Trusting in the Mystery’.”

    • Lee Xanthippe says

      I love the contrast of the rushing and the rushing habit next to the slowing down. I too was struck by the painting part and there was something mysterious in that as well–what was the painting of–abstract or something else that drew this person in. Or did it matter-was it more about the getting drawn it –colors and textures that can stop a person in their tracks and I like that the painting left the narrator richer although it was not affordable.
      I liked the physicality of the last line as well–”When I walk into the mystery, I walk.” Thanks!

    • Wendy says

      Kate, I really like that last sentence. It seems to really end the piece well. I liked the story of the painting very much. Thank you.

    • Judy says

      Kate, your journey into mystery was spellbinding. Your experience of the artwork left me limp and spellbound. Thank you for sharing this wonderful experience–your walk into mystery or could that be (yourstory).

    • Terry Gibson says

      Kate, I love how you tackled the prompt. For me as well, the description of you being mesmerized by the painting is lovely. In Paris, when I was 22, I had one wonderful moment in front of a painting as well. I sat spellbound in front of it and wrote in my journal for about an hour. Pure bliss! Thanks for sharing this and gifting me with the pleasant memory from my time in France.

  3. Cheryl Espinosa-Jones says

    When I walk into the mystery there is no brave or frightened. No win or lose. No squirming smaller to avoid the translucent beauty of the Truth. There is just this. The spectacular joy of being which points, inescapably, to my destiny.

      • Cheryl Espinosa-Jones says

        Singing in a gospel choir (Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir) or singing anything really. My work as a grief counselor and (starting in November) radio host. Meditation. Laughing with my wife. Or my grandson. Or my children. Well, anyone I love, really. Noticing beauty of any kind. Speaking sweetly to myself and sometimes sweetly but firmly. Exercise. Now that you ask, my life gives me lots of opportunities to touch the mystery!!!

        • Adrienne Drake says

          Cheryl~
          I am sure your facility with “entering the mystery” will help a lot of those you will encounter in grief counseling.
          Adrienne

        • Hazel says

          Cheryl,
          I think this answer to Laura is much more exciting to read than the original answer, it seems more real. “Now that you ask, my life gives me lots of opportunities to touch the mystery!!!” I’m sure it does.
          Thank you for sharing this.

        • Lee Xanthippe says

          I like the no squirming smaller part and the description of truth as translucent! I also enjoyed this follow-up note–the pictures it gave me–the singing, the laughing (and with the range of loved people), the work. I also like the “sweetly but firmly”…I hope it is okay to comment on this note as part of the writing. I usually wouldn’t do that but the note seemed like a continuation of the other. (My apologies if it was not intended that way.) Thanks for the succinct piece!

          • Cheryl Espinosa-Jones says

            I enjoyed all the comments so much. My goal is to share my writing, which has been a private joy. All comments support that. Thanks!

    • Lori Cooley says

      Cheryl, I love the reminder of no brave or frightened, and the spectacular joy of being in your walk into the mystery. This was a short piece that said much. Thank you.

      • Cheryl Espinosa-Jones says

        Lori, I want to say the same about your comment! I hope you have infinite ways to touch the mystery!!

    • Judy says

      Hello Cheryl, I love these words, “There is just this. The spectacular joy of being” and loved your answer to Laura’s question followed by more detail of your walk into mystery. And, ditto to Adrienne’s comment.

    • Terry Gibson says

      Cheryl, you say so much so quietly. I love it! It is true for me too. In that moment, all there is is that moment. And I saturate them until they can take no more and beg for mercy. Thanks!

  4. says

    Interesting that this prompt should come up this week. Right now, I’m in the process of preparing to lead a retreat–just a few weeks from now on this very topic. I’ve called it: “Coming Home: A Weekend Yoga and Writing Retreat to Help You Find Rest, Renewal and Joy In Your Busy Life.”

    They say you teach what you need to learn–and learning how to slow down, stop my momentum and enter the moment–is certainly a lesson I need to learn again and again.

    I’ll be co-teaching the retreat with my partner, Karyn Bristol, an Iyengar yoga instructor. Her restorative yoga classes will help people slow down and turn inward–and the writing prompts I offer will lead participants on an inner journey that will explore the obstacles to–and benefits of–slowing down and rediscovering what truly matters.

    There is still space in our weekend retreat, nestled in the redwood forest in Santa Cruz. Please consider joining me–a couple of members of this Roadmap community are already signed up to attend:

    http://lauradavis.net/cominghome

    These are the questions we’ll be considering:

    When was the last time I felt completely and deeply alive?
    What do I truly value in my life?
    What do I need to let go of?
    What would my life be like if I truly stopped my momentum?
    How can I feel deeply relaxed and connected to my body?
    How can I learn to deeply relax and renew? To restore myself on a daily basis?
    What steps can I take to access my deep inner wisdom?
    How can yoga and writing help me integrate my body, mind and spirit?

    • Lee Xanthippe says

      Love that one teaches what one needs to learn and the questions at the end. (It sounds like a lovely retreat ahead!)

      • says

        I think all teachers always teach what they need to learn! Or need to integrate more deeply or more consistently. I always learn when I’m teaching–if not more about the subject–always from the lives and courage of my students.

    • MaryL says

      Laura, I loved your post. I totally agree that you teach what you need to learn.

      Having spent much of my career life teaching – sixth grade, high school science, college philosophy & religion – I suppose that I have a great deal to learn. I even spent far too much time down in that circle of purgatory (I never read Dante) which is called “substitute teaching” whenever I needed short-term work.

      I couple this first maxim with my experience that life keeps sending you the same lessons until you master them. To me, it’s exciting, frustrating, a “here we go again!” lament, a shocked “I don’t have to go through this kind of thing again (shaking fist in the air)!” I know a lot of “stuff,” but will I ever reach wisdom?
      MaryL

  5. Wendy says

    I’m in a horrible mood right now. Things feel jump-off-the-cliff bad. But this phrase jumps off the screen to me, “When I walk into the mystery,” and it makes me think of Robert Frost and the road taken. It makes me breathe more deeply. It quiets me down. How could six little words have the power to do that?

    Ever since I was young, walking was a remedy to many problems. It was an escape. It seemed to magically take away the blues. It was a way to feel in my body. It was a way to get out.

    Right now what has been so hard for me is to not imagine the worst. That I have the book titled MY FUTURE in front of me, and it is one dire consequence after another. I am reading positive affirmation books right now until it feels my face will turn blue, and there is a part that’s yelling, “I’m not listening! I’m bored! I will never do this! You can’t make me!”

    This morning it is nice to consider the mystery. To think of being surprised, to imagine being open. Those six words this morning gave me some relief.

    • Lori Cooley says

      Wendy, I appreciate your honesty. I concur with you about the benefits of walking. It, too, helps me to get out of my head and into my body.

    • Adrienne Drake says

      Wendy~
      The synchonicity of this prompt coming at this time for you is one of life’s little positive things, don’t you think? The mystery of that gives you something to ponder. It may give those affirmations personal meaning. I hope so.
      Take good care,
      Adrienne

    • Hazel says

      Wendy,
      Thank you for sharing your feelings. It was reassuring to read your last paragraph and feel “some relief.” Good writing.

    • Lee Xanthippe says

      I felt like this piece was brave for just putting the feelings out there and not waiting for the pretty feelings to come up. I felt the strong resistance in “…you can’t make me.” I liked the description of walking as remedy. Thank you for this piece! (And for modeling that writing can be about the harder things.)

      • Lee Xanthippe says

        As a side note, the best advice I ever got on affirmations was to write out my own weird or wonky beliefs that I know aren’t quite true and then come up with a sort of affirmation that is a more realistic way of looking at a situation, so that the affirmations come from me and from what I need. So an affirmation might not be “I look beautiful” but might be “I don’t look as bad as I did in my 9th grade yearbook”–I suppose I also like affirmations that make me laugh or at least let a little light into the darkness. I feel like the affirmations or whatever one wants to call them work for me because I’ve chosen the words I need and like. (And done that when I am feeling half good). Thanks again for the writing!

        • Judy says

          Lee, thank you for the idea of writing our own affirmations. This is priceless, “So an affirmation might not be “I look beautiful” but might be “I don’t look as bad as I did in my 9th grade yearbook.” Wisdom and truth in your sharing. :)

    • Tasha Zigerelli says

      I think this is brilliant, something about this piece really stands out to me. I love that you mention Robert Frost and the road taken, the power those six words had on you. The breathing deeper. This is beautiful, this is your truth. Enjoy not knowing, embrace the mystery.

    • Shellie says

      I love the raw feelings in this, and your honesty, thank you for sharing, it makes it even more comfortable for me to share too.

    • Ilana says

      Thank you, Wendy, for sharing so deeply with us. I think this is a beautiful piece. It moved steadily from the pessimistic to more positive. I hope you find peace and joy. Ilana

    • Judy says

      Wendy, thank you for the honest telling and I hope the blues have lifted after a good walk. I like this writing: it’s honest, expressive and the last line is filled with hope. Be well and keep posting your thoughts and feeling. Judy

    • Terry Gibson says

      Wendy, I like how in a few short paragraphs you go from the bad mood to feeling that slight ‘lilt’ in your feelings as you consider mystery anew. Thanks a lot!

  6. Adrienne Drake says

    When I enter the Mystery, the world becomes a saner place. Or, more precisely, I bring that sense of Mystery to a completely insane world, and I am at peace. Here, I automatically metabolize all the negativity that could otherwise destroy me. Mystery is my resting place. It is where I heal.

    In the Mystery, bills don’t get paid because they don’t exist. In this sacred space, inner antennae become alert, tuning into the pulsating frequency of the life-giving force field that surrounds all things. It is in this state of mind (or sprit) that I can begin to align my energies with the universe and sense unlimited potential. It is my creative space.

    In the Mystery, imperfection does not exist because everything is perfect just as it is. I can look at the cup I purchased at a Tich Nhat Hanh retreat and read “Be Te Change You Wish To See” lovingly hand-written across it in bold black letters and not notice the misspelling. When I served my friend tea in this cup she said, “Isn’t that supposed to be ‘The’”? She was not dwelling in the Mystery that this cup evokes in me. She could not enjoy her tea.

    In the Mystery, all is well. I meld with what was, is and always will be. Unlike an epic novel, here there is no enticing beginning, juicy middle or surprise ending. There is simply a compelling feeling of oneness. This is the wholeness I have been attempting to find outside of myself my entire life. It is this Mystery that, knowing all, unites us all. It is grace.

    Could I dwell in Mystery all the time? I don’t think so. That is what will happen when I die. On Earth, I must deal with my Ego. This is where my inner critic lives. The job of my Ego, with its chattering shadow voice, is to maintain the integrity of my body. It fears death. Goal oriented Ego’s insistent voice tells me not to daydream or waste time creating. It forces me instead to pay the bills, wash the dog, and get my health check-ups on time. My anti-Mystery anti-Muse Ego keeps my material world intact.

    My survival depends upon a healthy Ego. Yet I am inexorably drawn to the Mystery. In those luxurious stolen moments , squeezed in between the business of staying alive, I rest in the arms of the Divine. When I enter the Mystery, all is as it should be. There I feel complete. I am enough. I am home.

    • Lori Cooley says

      Adrienne, My heart rate and respirations dropped while reading this piece (peace)! One of my favorites: My anti-Mystery, anti-Muse Ego keeps my world intact. Powerful discernment as I wonder if this isn’t true for us all, and just look at the world we’ve created! Also loved Imperfections do not exist in the Mystery. Encouraging, I’ll read this piece more than once. Thank you!

      • Adrienne Drake says

        Lori~ Thank you for your validating words! You made my heart and respirations speed up ;-) !And yes, we do need a much better balance betweeen Mystery and Ego in our world!
        Adrienne

    • Hazel says

      Adrienne,
      Thank you for a calming read. I agree with your statement, “When I enter the Mystery, the world becomes a saner place.” and your closing words resonated with me, “There I feel complete. I am enough. I am home.”

      Thank you for sharing.

    • Lee Xanthippe says

      I felt like there was a juicy middle! I felt totally drawn into the teacup with the mis-spelling and the two reactions to it–something about that was very juicy! And my reaction to the reactions! The detail–”Be Te Change…” Love it!

      Interesting too about the ego and the mystery…
      Thank you!

      • Adrienne Drake says

        Laura~ The first draft was not written in first person. Then I asked myself, “Whom are you hiding from?”, gulped, and made it “all about me” ;-)
        Thanks, Adrienne

    • Shellie says

      Adrienne this piece brought out some peaceful moments I do have at moments and I didn’t realize what I had at those moments until I read this, thank you!

      • Adrienne Drake says

        Shellie~
        When what I write can reach someone like this, it is suddenly worth all the soul-searching and self-doubt that accompany the process. Thanks for sharing,.
        Adrienne

    • Karla says

      I also really appreciated this insider’s look into your practice. I felt peaceful reading it, and thought that way you integrated (in the writing) your daily life with your spiritual beliefs was amazing.

    • Lee Xanthippe says

      Funny–I found myself trying to explain the cup thing to someone dear to me and I was trying to remember the details and at first I was thinking it was a quote from the Tao Te Ching–and then I remember Tich Nhat Hanh and the Gandhi quote–Be the change you wish to see in the world–and then “Be Te Change” and then it got me wondering–what does “Te” mean in the Tao Te Ching…if Wikipedia is correct “Te” means virtue–in the Tao Te Ching–the Way Virtuous Text or the Text of the Virtuous Way. And then I plugged into the teacup saying–Be Te Change–Be (the) Virtuous Change you wish to see (in the world)… : ) Ay, a mind that looks for what might be right in the wrong. “The Meaning of Typos” might just be the name for my next chapbook! : )

      • Adrienne Drake says

        Lee~ Thank you for this fantastic piece of research!! I always felt that the Buddhist Monk who carefuly wrote these words on that teacup must have made some kind of a Freudian slip, and now, I am sure of it. Perhaps that is why the misspelling never bothered me. Whenever I find myself getting too hard on myself, or being too picky and perfectionistic, I stop and think of the “perfection” of that “imperfect” cup. And then, I smile in that pause and am albe to let go a little bit and take myself and the world less seriously. I hope you will write on the meaning of typos, and be sure to include this one in your chapbook! One could write an entire short story around this….and now, maybe I will! Do you think The Mystery of Imperfection would be a good title? ;-)
        Adrienne

    • Judy says

      Adrienne, what stunning writing. It has lyrical tones and a well balanced flow. I love it from start to finish and smiled deeply as I read the story of the tea cup. Your last two graphs are written with elegance, clarity and speak a great truth, I feel. Thank you for sharing your walking into mystery.

      • Adrienne Drake says

        Judy~ Your words are very validating and kind and I am so glad my ideas found resonance with you!
        Adrienne

  7. Lori Cooley says

    When I walk into mystery all expectations fall away and a large space suddenly opens where my thoughts can settle and find rest. This verdant place allows me to see how simple it is to choose my way to just one action, instead of “thinking” about many and doing none. I am “in my head” far too often, and to quote Tama Kieves, “The life you are feeding is the life that becomes true.” Today I feed my desire to write by responding to this prompt. Day after day I sit with Spirit and my journal. At times I go round and round the same mountains;

    Why don’t I…
    sit and do some “real” writing when it’s what my soul begs me to do?
    How can I…
    believe I have a story worth telling?
    If only…
    I had a mentor, some direction, some guidance, knew what my story was!

    Then I could ACT! Then I could find my way, my voice, my story. Myself. Who wants to listen to that conversation! Spirit actually gets up and walks away with a “call me when you’re ready to be honest” tossed back at me.

    Walking into mystery allows me to choose without fear of perfection, talent, and all those other voices that keep me firmly cemented in my thoughts. I’m given space to be still and hear, when I choose to listen. Walking into mystery allows me to choose this day what I will feed. If it’s writing I want to do, then isn’t it writing I must feed by doing it? I can sit on the sidelines and moan about how, “I’m not good enough, I have nothing to say, I don’t have any talent”, or I can ACT. I can choose to WRITE. When I walk into mystery I surrender my expectations and walk into choice, and today I choose action. This action.

    • Hazel says

      Lori,
      I’m glad you chose this day to write. I have found that you just have to write everything and sooner or later you will find something worth keeping and there you have it in your very last paragraph: “I can ACT. I can choose to WRITE. When I walk into mystery I surrender my expectations and walk into choice, and today I choose action. This action.” This sounds like a keeper to me.

      • Lori Cooley says

        Hazel,
        Thank you for reading! I’m trying to not wait for inspiration to strike. With writing, I know, comes a measure of discipline, and this can be difficult for me. It’s so much safer to just think about it, rather than put myself on the page. Your advice is golden: sometimes you just have to write about everything.

    • Adrienne Drake says

      Lori~
      Now here is some “real writing,” and a “story worth telling.” In it I sense the battle with your anti-Muse as well as when “Spirit actually gets up and walks away with a “call me when you’re ready to be honest” tossed back at me.”
      Nice work!
      Adrienne

    • Lee Xanthippe says

      I enjoyed the dialogue here and Spirit. And the mountains–the questions…and the quote about feeding and how this piece is woven together…I enjoyed what walking into mystery allows…and the move toward action in this piece!
      Thank you!

    • says

      Lori, I really enjoyed this piece. I especially like how you ended it, “I can ACT. I can choose to WRITE. When I walk into mystery I surrender my expectations and walk into choice, and today I choose action. This action.” Thanks for being part of our community.

    • Shellie says

      I’m glad I got to read this as I love the quote you used… “The life you are feeding is the life that becomes true.” That is so true, and I find your piece very thought provoking. I ask myself similar questions about my writing.

  8. Hazel says

    When I walk into the mystery something strange happens. I can sense a parallel world, a different dimension sitting just off my right shoulder. I am drawn to the theory of parallel universes of Professor Guth, Steven Hawkin’s string theory, or that of the Quantum Jumping theory of Burt Goldman: “If your own individual beings could meet and each one had different experiences, think of the intelligence and knowledge you could pass from one to another. Each one would have different experiences and different outcomes. In one world you could be a doctor, in another world a politician, in another world a drug addict. The options would be virtually limitless.” I feel like that is what I do. When I sit down to write, I go back in time, I see myself in whatever setting I am writing about; at whatever age and it is like I am watching a movie, or like it is really happening and I see it, feel it, smell the smells, hear the sounds. I remember things but the actual conversations have become less rich. When I compare the way I think and the way I remember I don’t find many people who agree with mine or who experience the same thing. So, when I walk into the mystery I find myself mostly just lost in time; wandering there alone watching movies, which I then write about.

    • Adrienne Drake says

      Hazel~ I have always loved the idea of parallel universes, quantum leaps, and all that is Steven Hawkings, yet I never thought of the Mystery as belonging to, or actually being a parallel universe in and of itself. But, why couldn’t it be? I also like the idea of the different stages of our lives being parallel universes that you can look back on and bring to the present moment. You have given me much to ponder here. It is sort of like you are adding your input into a “universal theory of everything.” ;-)
      Adrienne

      • Hazel says

        Adrienne,
        Or have you read the Steven King series “The Dark Tower” where there are doorways into different universes and different times. (I love this series.) He is so weird but I find this series more interesting even though some of the things that happen are a bit gory. It’s the idea that we might be able to access these different dimensions if we just trusted they were there. I am accepting my time travel at least until I get my current book written. lol

    • Lori Cooley says

      Hazel,
      I got goose bumps reading this! I do believe we are all so close to another dimension and it sounds like you are able to see, smell, feel, and hear with those ‘other’ senses. Your writing reminds me of the Walker and the Watcher.

    • Lee Xanthippe says

      I enjoyed this piece being rooted in the parallel universes and how it comes together in the end. I thought it was really interesting the details, like watching a movie or what is the same and what is different –the conversations less rich.
      I also found it interesting that the memories don’t match others and how this lead to writing one’s memories…thanks for taking me into parallel universes!

    • says

      I’d like to see one of those movies…you’re so lucky as a writer to have that faculty. When I try to think of so many parts of my past, there is just a big blank and no memory. And I’m not just talking about traumatic memories–I’m talking about all kinds of memories. I’d give anything to have your kind of recall!

      • Hazel says

        Laura,
        It is definitely a help when writing memories. Or, when I think of someone, or some place, who has past on, I can bring them back in my head, as they were in life.

    • Ilana says

      Hazel- I really love the idea of what my different selves could teach each other. It’s actually a big part of my book. The way you describe it here felt so liberating. I could be anyone. How amazing. Nice work. Ilana

    • Karla says

      I have a very similar relationship to my memory when I write as the way you describe it– I just never understood it in the way you do. Incredible to me the way you link this up with the big idea of the parallel universes. Great job on this, Hazel.

      • Hazel says

        Karla,
        Thank God! I thought I was out on a limb again and had begun to saw on the wrong side. You are the only person that has ever said they see things in the same way. Oh, Oh. are we the beginning of a cult? ?;)

        • Karla says

          I think, at least for me, that this kind of seeing my past like a movie, is an exercise in mindfulness. I see it, but I’m also aware that I am watching myself in that movie. This gives me enough distance from it that I can see myself with less emotional “heat” and with a more whole perspective than when I originally experienced it.

          • Hazel says

            I watch myself in my movies to, but I never talk to myself during those times. It gives me the distance to analyze my behavior and/or my reaction to someone else’s behavior. Interesting.

    • Judy says

      Hazel, feel that you’ve nailed this prompt and I love it. Thank you for introducing Burt Goldman’s work. I’ve read and heard both Guth and Hawkins lecture–what a thrill. Exploring these ‘mysteries’ certainly gives a richer texture to my life. Two resources I find of value are the Institute of Noetic Sciences and the work of Brian Swimme, California Institute of Integral Studies (which I refer to in this week’s piece). Thank you. And yes, love the wondering in time (which some say is information) and watching movies.

  9. Sangeeta S. says

    When I walk into the mystery, I see green and blue and purple
    red and green and blue.

    When I walk into the mystery, I see a mirror image of myself that has shattered.

    When I walk into the mystery, I see a void, a vacuum, a darkness.

    When I walk into the mystery, I no longer exists but am only form.

    When I walk into the mystery, my cab light no longer shines
    and my fears awaken.

    When I walk into the mystery, I get swallowed up
    and can’t return.

    My darkness is real, as is my light;
    my sweetness is free as is my dark;
    my moment has come…and gone again;
    my moment is now…and then and then.

    Now when I walk into the mystery, I see clear breezes–as dark and light as the machinations of our mind.

    When I walk into the the mystery, I see contemplation–of a monk…and a spider web.

    When I walk into the mystery, I hold tight onto my universe for it will explode without my assurance.

    When I walk into the mystery, I know not who I am–or who I’ll be.

    All of these words mean nothing
    and everything.

    All of these pinings are as useless as our existence (and as meaningful).

    When I walk into the mystery, I see the we are all tools of the Great Mankind

    so please remember this, I think this life thing is all crap:
    don’t believe a word of it.

    • Lee Xanthippe says

      Wow…those two last lines were striking after this piece that felt like it was walking an edge.

      I felt much tension in this piece…in the images, the mirror, the colors, the web. The piece itself felt mysterious–full of feeling and tension between fear and contemplation. Thank you…

    • Tasha Zigerelli says

      Stunning, captivating, alluring.
      ”all these words mean nothing, and everything”
      what a great line. Really enjoyed reading this piece.

    • Ilana says

      Awesome! I really enjoyed the piece. It actually gave me insight into one of my own pieces that I have never really understood. The cadence lulled me into a relaxed mode and then the last two lines shocked me. I love that! Ilana

    • Hazel says

      Sangeeta,
      This whole piece was teetering on the brink and then in the last two lines “please remember this, I think this life thing is all crap:
      don’t believe a word of it.” you just turned walked away.

      Good writing. Thank you for sharing.

    • Adrienne Drake says

      Sangeeta, I really like you vast take on “The Mystery” as of course it is undefinable and is so many things to so many people. These are my favorite lines for they feel so universal:

      My darkness is real, as is my light;
      my sweetness is free as is my dark;
      my moment has come…and gone again;
      my moment is now…and then and then.

      Thanks for sharing, Adrienne

  10. Lee Xanthippe says

    Frank, to be frank, was not about to walk into the mystery.

    Frank wanted to take prompts and run with them. He wanted to take a prompt, roll it on the counter like a full lime, cut the prompt open and squeeze and breathe the juice that sprang out, leaving worn light green tendrils hanging like wet caterpillars socks on an invisible line. Frank wanted to mix his metaphors like mixed drinks although he didn’t really drink drink.

    Frank wanted to resist when resistance gave him a shove. Frank needed to push the heavy punching bags in this pitch dark room, so he could know where the walls were. He wanted to push the punching bags through the walls and windows so he could get some air in here. Frank was not sure if this was the right place to let prompts push him and to push back.
    “Walk into the mystery? Why the assumption that I walk?” thought Frank. “Can’t I stumble into the mystery, fall into the mystery, limp into the mystery, roll into the mystery, stagger, lurch, roll, glide, or crawl into the mystery?”

    Frank thought of the word “assume” and how that might make an ass out of everyone, but then again, thought Frank, “What’s so wrong with asses? Asses are donkeys that can give kicks or rides. Asses can give other sorts of chosen rides as well. Asses are necessary for expelling all that we take in. Maybe we all need to be more like good asses. Asses let shit go, yeah?” Frank stopped—he liked where his mixed metaphor or whatever it was had taken him but then he ended up embracing “assuming” when he meant to be critiquing “assuming,” but Frank did mean to embrace asses, not metaphorically bad asses, but good, literally good asses and also once Frank had written the words “bad asses” he kind of thought he did like some bad asses as well or should he write “badasses” or “baaadasses”?

    Frank remembered he left a softball signed by a whole team he’d never met, up on a high red cabinet tucked into an old tough cotton baseball jersey that had the big block letters across the front—“CLUB” on the left side and “BOYS” on the right side, so it read “BOYS CLUB” but he didn’t know why. Frank never felt comfortable in a boys club or rather, Frank never felt comfortable with a club that excluded girls or women. Men had something suspect about them when they did things like this—exclusions and Frank was never comfortable being let in on any “secret” that could not be told to a female. Frank, male as he was, felt female, only in the way that he felt like he didn’t want to know about anything that men did not want women to know about. Most of the men’s secrets were the same old stuff you could imagine…and the stuff women couldn’t imagine, Frank didn’t want to imagine either. Frank was impressionable. Maybe it was his name, Frank, somehow embossed upon him that made him unwilling to lie and almost willing to spill any secret. Secrets were burdens and Frank wanted no burden more than he already had.

    “Paul McCartney’s on the radio 93.9 talking about his new album,” Frank said about 20 minutes ago when he burst into the house, his double bag full of fruit for tomorrow’s salad. “Yeah it came out today,” John said, never missing a musical beat or detail. It was so hard for Frank to surprise John with any new tidbit, but John didn’t know about the radio interview yet, so that was something. Frank didn’t tell John about the radio interview bit that Frank heard a couple of minutes ago before shutting off the car radio and getting out of the car—Paul McCartney saying he still gets, what did he say? Not nervous. Oh, this was it—Paul still worries that someone is better than him. When that part in the interview came on the radio again in Frank and John’s living room Frank said outloud, “I love it!”. Frank loved that even Paul, Sir Paul, ex-Beatle (or will he always be a Beatle?) Paul (say it in a Liverpool accent now) McCartney gets insecure.

    Frank couldn’t write about mystery. The world opened itself up to Frank and Frank turned each detail around in his hand—Frank felt the insecurity as a living being that was his and Paul’s and most of the world’s. Paul said something about how this worrying about whether someone was better was a motivator in his work. Insecurity made Paul better or rather, that is what Paul does with the softballs lobbed his way and signed by the whole team—Paul catches them and lobs them back. Frank wanted to catch and throw too. Frank did catch and throw. In fact he was doing it right now—pulling his right arm back—Frank is right handed but politically left handed—taking a deep breath, stepping forward as his arm launches forward, release your fingers from the ink-covered and dirt-stained ball and let it fly—no longer caring how the stitched orb flies or how you look throwing it or if you threw better or worse than anyone else, just doing it, just doing it to do it.

    Frank thought he was done. He’d put the last flourish on his prompt and made it come together enough for him—he stitched up his baseball of a prompt, then while standing and sprinkling into the bowl, he remembered the part he’d written about the walking into mystery or was it limping into mystery and Frank felt he left something unstitched. Perhaps Frank wanted more action than mystery or rather maybe wanted to acknowledge both the undefined yet Frank wanted to define.

    Walk into mystery, a metaphor, yes?
    “Walk” into mystery and why not let the metaphor stand–the metaphoric “walking”?

    Frank had come too close—Frank was surrounded by those he loved who went places and walked places but also limped and hobbled places, and “walked” places, meaning they drove or pushed their wheelchairs or walkers places or lifted their manual chairs overhead and tucked their chairs in the car before they slid into the driver’s seat or right after and Frank knew others who rode—drivers seat, passenger, back or public transport down streets onto campuses, down boardwalks, into boardrooms and into flatter terrain of forests.

    Frank was not ready to let the moment pass yet—he wanted to squeeze the reality and the nonreality out of the metaphoric “walking”. Frank wondered why one wrote “walking” into mystery instead of moving into mystery. (Or would one have to start paying rent if one moved into mystery—and pay the first and last months rent plus deposit?)

    Frank wanted to question the question.
    “How do you move into mystery?
    How do you move with mystery?” And then Frank wondered if mystery should be a verb, as in
    “How do we mysterize moving?
    How do we mysterize ‘walking’?
    What is the difference between walking and ‘walking’?
    Does mystery walk or move and how?
    And how.”

    “It’s a clumsy ending,” Frank thought, but he felt better. Frank wanted people to think about metaphors. He wanted people to embody metaphors and when people cannot embody metaphors because the metaphors won’t fit them, Frank wanted…what did Frank want? Better metaphors? Maybe. Or maybe Frank just wanted to undress the metaphors, no, that was too much. Maybe Frank felt like he was the metaphor and he wanted to undress himself as metaphor—he wanted to dress himself up as Mr. Walk and Miss Mystery and do the slow striptease—show the metaphor of walk for a part fake, show the fake by pulling down his history written on his legs—the cane given to him by his mother, tattooed on his right leg. Frank wanted to pull off his feathered and sequined hat to reveal the photographs in his mind of all the ways of moving—a brilliant jumble of photos, memory, and film–his dance partners, his partners, his friends, people he’s never met but oh, the moving…the last images he saw was of her and her, at first not moving and then just their finely muscled backs moving like creatures or caterpillars slowly moving like thick liquid in slow full pulses through a pipe and then slowly and slowly they rise up on tableleg prostheses—one for each hand, one for each foot. (One able bodied, so to speak, and one dancer disabled, but with table legs both become women-and-insect? Something else entirely? Talk about walking, talk about moving, talk about mystery…let the mysteries begin. How two—both dancers–in some ways so different can invent a third way both with and beyond and from the movement they embraced before they became finely muscled slowly moving backs crawling along the sand to the sound of strange and familiar instruments.

    • Ilana says

      Lee- I was very interacted by this piece. What kept coming up for me was that Frank seemed like a very frank person. He doesn’t want to mystify. He just wants to tell the truth and keep things simple. Thank you for a lovely piece. Ilana

    • Hazel says

      Wow, Lee,
      “Frank, to be frank, was not about to walk into the mystery.” but he walked every which way around it. What fun! It was a great read, made me smile and laugh, ponder, and think out loud.

      Thank you for sharing!

    • Adrienne Drake says

      Lee~ I could not stop reading…the whole piece was, well, rather mysterious, and I had to know where it was going and how it would end. I loved the “wet caterpillar socks” metaphore. I will never looked at a squeezed out lime the same way again! ;-)
      Adrienne

    • Judy says

      Lee, help me, I’ve fallen into Frank’s rabbit hole and I’m loving it.

      This knocked me out, “Walk into the mystery? Why the assumption that I walk?” thought Frank. “Can’t I stumble into the mystery, fall into the mystery, limp into the mystery, roll into the mystery, stagger, lurch, roll, glide, or crawl into the mystery?”

      And, yes Frank, I think you should consider yourself a verb.

      Good job and a fun read.

  11. Karla says

    When you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.

    To “walk into the mystery”, to me, means being fully embodied in my life, appreciating what there is to see on this road. Not dwelling on the roads I’ve been on and comparing it to this one. Not enthralled in imaging how much better those other roads must be, if only I were there now. The quote from Faulds at the heart of this writing prompt is as good a definition of mindfulness as any I’ve ever read.

    This mindful, mystery-walking approach is central to my writing these days. I’ve been focusing on the early years of my work (25 years ago) with battered women—victims who were seeking court orders of protection. This was crisis intervention, as a violent episode had just erupted and they needed help right then. A volunteer law/graduate student then, my job was to help women fill out the complicated court paperwork and accompany them to court, where they stood in front of a judge while he signed their orders. Five years later, I began working on the defense of women who had killed their abusive partners/spouses. Although they were usually incarcerated and consequently still in something of a continual crisis, they were months and often years away from the last abusive incident.

    When I look back at those early years in this field—one that has a high rate of burnout for volunteers as well as those who make it their career—I see how this work has completely transformed me. Even discounting my youth and inexperience, I find it remarkable that I once felt foreign in this world and awkward in my interactions with the people in it. Now, setting off for a four day trip to meet with a client in jail in some part of the rural Midwest I didn’t (usually) know existed is like slipping into a warm sweater that looks great and fits perfectly. The following anecdote is an example of how this was not always so.

    She wasn’t the first client I worked with, but she’s the one my memory clicks to when I think about the beginning. I can still see her sitting at the table in one of the corners of the room—one of four corners, and the other tables were all occupied with other clients and advocates, hurrying to make it to court before the judge went home for the day. She was slumped in her chair, arms folded across her body, head hanging down so that her shoulder-length hair covered the side of her face.

    I slipped into the chair on the other side of the table and introduced myself. She looked up and told me her name, smiling sadly. I had a comfortable routine that I launched into, explaining the court process and gestured to the pile of forms we would complete together. I put the first form in front of her, turned so it was upside down to me. I pointed at the top line, dropped a pen on top of the paper, and said, “where it says ‘Petitioner’, that’s you. Write your name there.” She looked down again.

    She didn’t move or say a word, not even a flicker of a gesture towards picking up the pen. Perhaps she didn’t realize we were in a hurry, as the judge wasn’t going to wait for us. Her arms were still folded across her body, hidden underneath the table, her eyes steady in the same downward direction. Maybe continuing on would get her moving: I put my finger on the next line, tapping a couple of times to get her attention, and told her that the line next to “Respondent” was where she would write his name. “Let’s get started,” I suggested, shifting back and forth a few times in my chair.

    In the silence I heard what sounded like a soft pop on the paper in front of her. A tear. I grabbed the box of Kleenex on the other side of the paper and put it right next to the paperwork. A few more tears plopped down, they sounded like tiny pebbles hitting soft ground. The ink was beginning to run and the paper itself was distorted with small bubbles. The judge was not going to be happy with the condition of this form, we were going to need another one. She didn’t reach for a tissue, so I nudged the box closer to her body, to the edge of her end of the table. The tears didn’t stop and she didn’t even flinch, so I stretched across the table and pulled a tissue out, dropping it right in front of her. I pulled out one tissue after another, dropping them in a circle around the papers, as if I were Gretel leading her to the path of correct emotional reactions.

    “Can you write?” I asked, with a softness I suspect I did not yet have. She moved her left hand under her right elbow, raising her arm up just enough so I could see the cast that covered most of her forearm.

    She told me that her husband had punched her in the forearm as she blocked her face. I cannot even imagine the level of force required to break one of those bones with a fist. Over the years, I have learned a number of surprising facts about human anatomy and the possibilities for injury. How an open hand slap can cause an eardrum rupture. How blows to the belly are less likely to bruise, because the blood vessels are further away from the surface of the skin. How slinging someone back and forth can cause a traumatic brain injury, a sort of adult version of shaken baby syndrome. I can’t say I’ve enjoyed learning these facts. I was shocked by a cast on an arm twenty five years ago, but now I routinely look at grisly autopsy and bloody crime scene photos as if it’s just another day at the office.

    In the story of the client with the broken arm, realizing that I hadn’t even noticed her cast was an awakening to not only look at—but actually see- who I was working with. I began to attend more to the condition of the people rather than the paperwork. As I looked around where other advocates and clients were collaborating at their own tables, the room seemed to change.

    Sorrow and grief hung in the air, thick and pungent, like cigarette smoke collects near the ceiling in a room full of smokers. It choked me up. At first I tried to pretend the cloud wasn’t there. I imagined taking a giant breath and blowing it away. Neither of these strategies was effective, so I learned to just sit there with grief and not co-opt others’ sadness as my own.

    • Hazel says

      Karla,
      As someone who could have ended up in a cell beside one of your clients so easily, I cannot tell you how much your work means to them and to me as a survivor of a near miss. I am in awe of you. I have also worked on criminally insane wards in several mental hospitals and know how important it is for you as the “helper” person to be able to keep your cool. In order to do this work you need to be centered in your purpose. I admire you for that. And, for your own sake you need to “to just sit there with grief and not co-opt others’ sadness as my own.” I know you are a compassionate person and I know also how hard it is not to get drawn in to the situations you have to deal with. You my friend are an awesome lady.

      Thank you for sharing “this mindful, mystery-walking approach” of yours.

      • Karla says

        Hazel, I wish I had adequate words to communicate how much your support means to me. I remember you telling me about your “near miss” at Commonweal and although I wish you hadn’t had to suffer like this, I suspect that your (as “they” say) surviving and thriving has in part made you the person and writer that you are today. Thank you for your kinds words, and for what you see in me.

    • Judy says

      Karla, vivid, skillful writing–filled with enormous compassion for the women and families you help. It is an honored to met you here on the Roadmap and my deep wish is that you are wrapped in those warming, snuggley, comforting knitted items of which you write so lovingly. Be well my friend, Judy

    • Adrienne Drake says

      Karla~ Your book will give such a powerful voice to these women on an even larger scale than your work in the courtroom. I am awed by what you are able to do and how you are able to help these women, and the humility with which you protray your role grabs me. The two pieces I have read about your work are so well written. I want to know so much more.
      Adrienne

    • Karla says

      I am very grateful for the interest in my writing/work and appreciate everything that’s been said to me, so very, very, very much.

    • Terry Gibson says

      Karla, I knew I had to get back to you before I forgot. I love how quietly you tell this tale, letting the here and now (present tense then) create the emotional responses of the reader. I am very interested in your book! If you read my reply to yours this week (on my post), it says what I would’ve added here too. I have great regard for what you do. If I had a real chance at life, I would’ve done the same. Ifondly remember reading about Clarence Darrow at twelve–a self-directed library discovery. Great job, Karla!

      • Karla says

        Terry, I always feel so understood when you comment on my work. You have a way of telling me what you see that knocks me out by getting to heart of what I’m trying to say. Thank you, also, for saying such nice things about my work. And I think I know what you mean about not having had a real chance at life and that fills me with incredible sadness for you not being able to pursue what I know you would have been good at. But many people work to end domestic violence, not just lawyers, and there is always more room in the movement to help battered women with whatever skills people bring to the table. Come with your writing and join us.

        • Terry Gibson says

          Thanks Karla. I will. We’ve got a good organization here. I’ve got to get a solid home base first. I find that work too overwhelming and painful without love and support. Too quickly, all I see is grief and pain everywhere. Please forgive me for momentary lapses into self-pity. So glad it’s not a place I inhabit often. I don’t like making anyone sad. That includes you too.

  12. Judy says

    WALKING INTO MYSTERY….Is to know you are alive.

    My first awareness of that magical feeling was long ago on a sweltering summer day in Northeastern Indiana. It had just sprinkled and the world smelled anew in the late afternoon when mom asked me to gather veggies from our small backyard garden. As was our family custom, you never went to the garden without two things: a full salt shaker and the garden hose.

    With the salt shaker tucked into my jeans pocket, I headed out the screen door sans my sneakers, to our small garden. The squeaky melody of that old door, followed by the clap as it bounced…once…. then again with a stutter step, always leaving a tiny gap where the mosquitoes gained access to the house…is embedded in my memory along with the image of blue/green dragonflies that eat mosquitoes.

    Reaching the garden, time began to slow. My bare feet felt the humidity as mud oozed through the dew covered grass to encase my toes. It was soggy footing but a wondrous feeling that I now recognize as my connection to Mother Earth. I felt centered and at peace as I gently removed that first ripe tomato from the vine. Its aroma whispered earth as water from our ancient rubber hose rolled around the full, globular fruit to drip down my skinny tan legs. I felt as if I were in another world as the red, succulent, juices squirted out to glisten my lips after the first bite. That delicious, flushed tomato needed no salt. It was perfect just as it was. Unbeknownst to me at the time, that tomato would become my madeleine.

    The childhood garden/tomato experience launched me into exploring the physical world, hoping perhaps to find that ‘special feeling’ again. Long before the mystery of my first orgasm, I turned to nature and began studying bugs—the dragonfly, with its green translucent wings, especially fascinated me. I learned that the dragonfly has 30,000 optical units. How they see the world, I asked. Only a few years ago did I come upon an intriguing answer of some of nature’s differing realities.

    In his series, Canticle to the Cosmos, Brian Swimme, I recollect this:

    The dragonfly doesn’t see as much detail as a human can, but its eyes and brain are extremely sensitive to motion. They can detect movements separated by 1/300th of a second! To a dragonfly, a movie might look like a series of still pictures. But perhaps most the interesting part of the dragonfly is: its brain works so rapidly it perceives most movement in slow motion. Thus, to demonstrate his point of dragonfly reality, Swimme goes on the explain that if a dragonfly were in the center of a room and started to close its eyes and a person entered the room to pick up a book on the table opposite the door, the dragonfly would be totally unaware of the person entering and exiting the room. The dragonfly experiences a world totally different from ours. Swimme says, “…we put the dragonfly in our world because we think our world is the only world. By doing that we close down the world into one, tiny, little splinter of its fullness.”

    Ah, to walk in the mystery that is dragonfly.

    Yesterday afternoon was gray and drizzly, so with notebook in hand, I headed to Barnes & Noble to read and write. As I gazed out the huge picture window, I caught sight of something that supported sumptuous feelings of walking into the mystery, being fully present and alive.

    Heading north on State Street was a gaggle of nearly fifteen bike riders stopped at the traffic light. Each biker wore a salmon colored see-through rain cover. As they leaned into the rain on their rented blue bikes, they reminded me of the flamingos I’d photographed at Lincoln Park Zoo over the weekend. Their leader used a whistle to signal stop. Looking again, I saw a another group on colorful four-wheel bike carts, similar to a surrey with the fringe on top, with four people each, two in the front seat pedaling and two in back. This group was headed south — opposite the flamingo style bikers.

    As the light changed, both leaders blew whistles! What an oddity, I thought, as I watched the two groups meet center intersection, greeting each other with high-fives and shouts of “WHOA.”

    And, then it was over. The moment had passed. Unlike the dragonfly, my eyes were wide open to take in the experience. I ask myself, can it be that this beauty and transience of life become a permanent state or is it more like the beauty of a cherry blossom: momentary, fleeting?

    The latter, I think, but it’s time for some tea, a madeleine and a look at my old dragonfly books, after which I might take a walk in the park—barefoot.

    • Karla says

      I really enjoyed the description of the creative child in the garden, and the reference to Proust — a food being a gateway to the world. I was also so in the moment as you were describing the scene outside the B&N window, you captured so well not on the physicality of what happened, but also its emotional content. Skillfully crafted and wonderfully written.

      • Judy says

        Karla, your comments are generous and meaningful to me. Thank you. When I returned my tea cup to the B&N cafe counter, I asked the kids there what they thought of the bikes fleeting visit. One said, ‘how cool was that?’ The other said, ‘it happened so fast and we got to see it!’ Fun afternoon in the city.

      • Judy says

        Karla, just reread your lovely sentence, ‘the reference to Proust — a food being a gateway to the world.’ Yummy.

      • Judy says

        Thank you Laura. Our condos small urban garden has moved the herbs into the ‘sun room nursery’ for the year. Tomatoes have been harvested and some canned. So yes, we can evoke the mystery of both urban and rural settings until next spring. :)

    • Hazel says

      What a mystery journey! From an Indiana garden many years ago to the cosmos, to the sidewalk outside Barnes and Noble yesterday afternoon. I think I’m dizzy. I loved the tour! Your dragonfly reality blew me away. Your closing statement certainly was the exact right summation: ” I ask myself, can it be that this beauty and transience of life become a permanent state or is it more like the beauty of a cherry blossom: momentary, fleeting?

      The latter, I think, but it’s time for some tea, a madeleine and a look at my old dragonfly books, after which I might take a walk in the park—barefoot.” I felt like joining you.

      • Judy says

        Hazel, thank you for the generous comments. And, it’s good to know that the dragonfly talks to you, too. I sent Dr. Swimme an e-mail asking for more detail and will share it if/when it arrives. BTB: you’d love the colors in the park yesterday as well as the ‘music’ from the nearby bird sanctuary.

    • Judy says

      Hello all, turns out Dr. Swimme isn’t the source of the dragonfly portion of this piece–but dang if I can find the original just now.

      I highly recommend Swinne’s work and hope you will find it the Walk into Mystery that many do.

      Now, if I could just interview that dragonfly.

    • Adrienne Drake says

      Judy~ Your evocative piece took me back to summer days at my grandmother’s in Chicago, going down to her garden, and picking our salad for dinner. Thank you for the memory!
      Adriene

    • Terry Gibson says

      Great work. I could just settle in with my own cup of tea and read on for days. I love how you craft and sustained my attention–hard to do sometimes–all the way through. I never knew what was next and I loved it! :)

  13. Hazel says

    When I walk into the mystery I become one with nature . . .

    Yesterday, mid-morning, Fruitland, New Mexico. The sun is just beginning to chase away the chill of the high-desert night. My husband is opening the draperies to let in the warming sun. He calls to me urgently in a hushed voice. “Approach slowly” he cautions. There just outside the window on a structure made for plants to climb on, not one foot away, sat a female Sharp Shinned Hawk. She was small, about ten inches, top of head to end of tail. As she sat there she was totally unaware of us as she preened her fluffed up feathers, one eye trained on the sky. I was in awe of her. I saw her curved knife of a beak gently pick up one small feather after another and run it between that beak and her tongue straightening out the barbs so the feathers hold more air. I noticed the tiny tan feathers above her eyes that seemed so much like heavy eyebrows. When she turned in response to some little noise I could see the white patches on the back of her folded wings. It seemed I could feel her joy of the suns rays on her and reflected on her also from the window. She ruffled her feathers and sat there looking plump as she may well have been, her main food source is small birds and there have been many in the bushes of the fencerow this summer. I’m sure her bright yellow feet with their long talons were more than capable of holding her prey while she flew to her nest. Still today I can see her sitting there with her barred white and brown breast so bright in the sun, her small clear eyes taking in everything except us.

    What a joy it is to get to see this raptor up-close and personal.

    • Judy says

      Hazel, I love this piece–so alive. And, yes, what a thrill to see a raptor up close & personal. Your details of her are vivid and engaging. I’m pulling out my field guide right now!

      Several years ago (from fall to spring) I created a ‘bird cafe’ on the family room window ledge three stories up. It was a thrill to log the various birds who came for a snack of sunflower seeds–including a Downy Woodpecker we named Hal. Sadly, the cafe lost it’s ‘license’ because the birds kicked seeds to the ground which attracted another creature city folks always wish to avoid–its name begins with r…. :)

    • Karla says

      What exquisite perception you have to be able to observe a creature so precisely. Your love for nature shows so brightly in this piece, and it is a remarkable example of being in the moment, taking in the beauty that the world has to offer.

      • Hazel says

        Thank you for your kind words. It was amazing as I had time to really take in the details, which one seldom does with birds as they take off to quickly.

  14. Jaqui says

    I think I walked into that mystery a few days ago. From somewhere down inside and at the same time from the tip of my tongue I decided and committed to “say NO”. No to all the little (and bigger) requests that come my way with the express purpose of preventing me from doing any of the things I must begin to do to keep going, work past, function, just dust.

    Just as Chicken Little once promised .. The sky fell – it fell right on top of me that dreadful moment my beloved took his last breath and it’s been on top of me ever since. Do you know how hard it is to walk around with the sky teetering on your shoulders. I don’t walk well anyway, and that heavy laden fallen sky doesn’t help a bit. Then I came to realize that every time I say yes to someone else’s project or agenda that the sky rocks harder and feels heavier and personal un-dealt with turmoil, totally messed up house and space, unhealthy body, spinning mind all get worse and I’ve run myself out of any time to do anything about them.

    Now here looms that mystery opportunity – just walk in, can it be that easy?? Should I bother? What’s a little dust and a sink full of dishes? Or a garage so full of “nobody knows” that the car (which needs a new fuel pump) can’t even fit it. Hmm, walk into the mystery…. bet I’d have to stop staring off into space or going through his clothes, I’d probably have to have the vacuum cleaner repaired, do some laundry and get a grip. Would I need to have a grip on mystery lane?

    What was that you asked? Would I drive you to the beauty parlor, pick up some milk for your sister and take you for acupuncture? Nope – sorry, not today.

    • says

      Jaqui, Welcome to the Roadmap Blog. I loved your line, “Do you know how hard it is to walk around with the sky teetering on your shoulders?” What a vivid depiction of grief. And I love how you ended with saying no.

    • Hazel says

      Jaqui,
      I am so glad you came! I sincerely hope that this is not one of those “someone else’s project(s)” that you were talking about and that you will find support, fun and help with your writing here.

      I loved this, “Then I came to realize that every time I say yes to someone else’s project or agenda that the sky rocks harder and feels heavier and personal un-dealt with turmoil, totally messed up house and space, unhealthy body, spinning mind all get worse and I’ve run myself out of any time to do anything about them.”

      Your solid ” Nope – sorry, not today.” should buy you some more personal time.

      Love ya . . .

      • Jaqui says

        Not someone else’s project, rather their (your) generous invitation to develop a venue for my own project, writing, way too long on the back burner. Will enjoy the journey with you. My bags are packed, well, the ones under my eyes at least. Sweet dreams.

    • Adrienne Drake says

      Jacqui~ I like the strong voice saying “no” to others and thereby saying “yes” to yourself, so you could find the time to join us here!
      Adrienne

    • Judy says

      Jaqui, welcome. What a powerful image of grief, “Do you know how hard it is to walk around with the sky teetering on your shoulders” Your writing is clear and your voice strong. This piece is full of hope about walking in mystery as you set boundaries in a loving clear direct way by saying no. Look forward to more of your posts on this fun, supportive writers Roadmap.

    • Sheila McGinley says

      This was so full of your personality, so full of both humor and sorrow too. I loved it. Came at the right time: I have been putting off two NO’s. They are due today……

  15. MaryL says

    When I walk into the mystery

    “Walking into the mystery” doesn’t quite explain what happens to me – occasionally – as I come to a sharp realization of some truth.

    Recently, I bumped into a wall of truth, by accident(?), and I have been brooding about it, angry at first, then disappointed, then – because, honestly, self-pity can only help for so long – I realized that now I see clearly. This is about a relationship which has soured, which was probably sour from the beginning. Perhaps I was unable to see it for what it was earlier, getting stuck in someone else’s drama.

    I cannot see everything; I am not present fully all the time; I fall back into wondering where my mind went (to those Cinderella daydreams) … But one piece of my life, one relationship, is now clear, clear as a morning in Maine – if you’ll drive, I will show you!

    This happened without a nasty encounter with the person. It happened with an honest encounter with my SELF. It hurt, as surely as if an arrow had pierced my heart. Notice that everyone talks about the arrow in the heart these days, though no one knows what that feels like, except that it sounds ghastly! Here’s Mary again …. She’s still human! Sure, as I decided to breathe gently, I could see how this situation developed, and how I was a bit needy, and naïve, and perhaps tired, and so on.

    After my cataract surgery in 2012, I was amazed at the brightness of —- everything! My discovery that I have five or six shades of blue socks in my drawer – was like the first dawn! I could see the different shades … I would not go unmatched. In the middle of the night I sent my friend an email, “BLUE SOCKS! BLUE SOCKS!” That medical breakthrough caused me to rethink larger issues – color and shade and twilight and dawn – and where I am somewhere in the cosmos.

    I don’t have to bump into walls on purpose, since life sends obstacles without asking. So I have started to try a minute, here or there, of “being here … now …in the present moment.” And there are even more wondrous things in my life than shades of blue socks!

    • Adrienne Drake says

      Mary L~ This is the line I liked best:
      “But one piece of my life, one relationship, is now clear, clear as a morning in Maine – if you’ll drive, I will show you!”
      I like how you interwove “the mystery” with the absolute predictability of the disappointments that can occur in relationships. And still, we carry on…looking for and appreciating the miracles all around us.
      Nice.
      Adrienne

    • says

      MaryL, I loved this, “This happened without a nasty encounter with the person. It happened with an honest encounter with my SELF.” It made me really stop and think about times this has happened in my life, when I’ve outgrown a relationship that is no longer serving me–is not mutual or balanced–or perhaps never has been. I have to say, too, that I’ve been on the other side of the equation–I’ve been the person who has been deemed too selfish or narcissistic or self-absorbed or needy–and at times, the assessment has unfortunately been apt.

      The other part of your piece I adored, of course, was the BLUE SOCKS. These lines absolutely delighted me: “My discovery that I have five or six shades of blue socks in my drawer – was like the first dawn! I could see the different shades … I would not go unmatched. In the middle of the night I sent my friend an email, “BLUE SOCKS! BLUE SOCKS!” That medical breakthrough caused me to rethink larger issues – color and shade and twilight and dawn – and where I am somewhere in the cosmos.”

      Thanks so much for this lovely, thoughtful post.

  16. Ilana says

    I wasn’t going to post this week, and I’m not really. But I had a thought I wanted to share. I think I walk into the mystery every second. Even the most mundane, predictable activities can end in a way that I never could have expected. A quick run to the grocery store turns into an afternoon of chaos when a car shoots out of my blind spot and there’s an accident. A last minute trip to the library turns into a reunion when someone I never thought I’d see again happens to be returning books too. Anything can happen any minute. That’s what makes life so exciting and so scary. Just my two cents.

    • Judy says

      Ilana, so glad you decided to put in your two cents. Hope you’re ok after the car accident and I love these words, ” Anything can happen any minute. That’s what makes life so exciting and so scary.” Have a wonderful time in the redwoods exploring the mystery that is poetry (wishing I could join you).

    • Adrienne Drake says

      Ilana~I think you nicely portrayed another aspect of “the mystery.” Glad you are feeling better.
      Adrienne

    • says

      Ilana, I love your two cents, too! It made me smile to think of life that way, and I love it when I have the time–or create the time–to savor those things that are unexpected. That’s where life happens–as John Lennon said–when we’re busy making other plans.

  17. Terry Gibson says

    When I venture into mystery, I want to rip away my stoicism, my guard. Cast it out to the sleepy fishing boats enjoying a wee tickle from the loch waters caressing their underbellies.

    • Adrienne Drake says

      Terry~ Such a short post with so much luscious imagery!!! Those fishing boats in the loch offer a nice respite for my soul.
      Adrienne

    • Karla says

      What I really like about this is what was between the lines (or so I think, I may have completely gotten it wrong). Such as how self awareness of the guard being up is a choice that we can choose to leave up or take down at any point, and how the reverse is true– we can put our guard back up. You might have to wrestle it away from the sleepy fishing boats, who enjoy the sensation of its title on their underbellies, but it can be done. The longing to ditch the guard, temporarily or not, is a recognition that it takes so much energy to have your defenses up, and how freeing it feels to let them down. There are good reasons from the past to develop a guard and good reasons to allow it to protect you in the present, but it is a weight that can be wearying. And the lovely imagery of where the guard might go (as opposed to tossing it down an outhouse, for example) seems to say that there is compassion for the self who has the guard, and for who wants to throw it away.

      It is a thing of mystery to be able to say so much in so few words. On the verbose end of the communication dimension, I admire it deeply. Thank you for sharing.

      • Hazel says

        How beautifully you have interpreted Terry’s very concise piece, love what both of you have done here.
        Thank you for sharing.

      • Terry Gibson says

        Karla, thank you for being on the verbose end of the communication spectrum. I love it! In your comments and posts, I always admire the perfect union you achieve between your lawyer’s rationale–dissecting a whole down to its basic chemistry–and the considerable power you wield in your awareness of emotionality (yours and that of other peoples). I love knowing that that prowess is in the corner of the women I might have been.

  18. Sheila McGinley says

    After 9/11 it was the snail that overwhelmed me. I came home from a busy day of work and there it was crawling up the post toward my tomato plant. I am usually at war with snails during the bounty of summer, but this day I fell in love. The little compact body of this creature who shared the earth with me seemed so vulnerable, so unaware of the evil we humans bring to ourselves and everyone else who shares the earth with us. I sat in the car for a very long time, thanking the snail for being here in my world.

    Whenever I leave the hospital, it is sunlight that I crave. I walk outside and turn my face up, the world stopping around me, as I feel it smoothing my skin and warming the tense spots on my shoulder. I remember the sun. I am so thankful for no longer being caught inside.

    When I sit down, at last, to meditate, the sounds of my house, of the birds and of trucks bouncing down the road seem to appear out of nowhere. I close my eyes and ride with the sounds. Then the breeze cools my skin and I kick my shoes off. My breath slows, my stiff shoulders loosen, some long-forgotten music enters my mind.

    When I sit down to write, it is my mystery that I turn toward. I try to find a piece of it to grab hold of, looking for shining lights in my mind. If I am lucky, very lucky, I can actually feel the right side of my brain opening up to join the left. If that happens, my lifetime of images connect with words and I feel like I have entered a river right at that place where the current pulls you sweetly in to itself. Then all there is to do is ride.

    When I enter the mystery, I am at home. I find my self knitting back together, becoming whole. Life slows down. Even when I encounter pain tucked away, I feel as if I can fall right into it then out the other side. When I enter the mystery.

    • says

      Sheila, I adored the snail in this piece–how your perspective utterly shifted. I was captured. But then I read on–and when I came upon this, “When I sit down to write, it is my mystery that I turn toward. I try to find a piece of it to grab hold of, looking for shining lights in my mind. If I am lucky, very lucky, I can actually feel the right side of my brain opening up to join the left. If that happens, my lifetime of images connect with words and I feel like I have entered a river right at that place where the current pulls you sweetly in to itself. Then all there is to do is ride.

      When I enter the mystery, I am at home. I find my self knitting back together, becoming whole. Life slows down. Even when I encounter pain tucked away, I feel as if I can fall right into it then out the other side. When I enter the mystery.”

      I was spellbound. I loved your description and only hoped that I, too, could enter your experience.

      • Sheila McGinley says

        Thanks, Laura. One of the things that the retreat gave me: I try to get as close to the truth and as specific as I can, not getting carried away by dramatic words. This was that for me. Hope I can keep that feeling, at least sometimes……

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