Calgary is a car friendly city. It’s streets and avenues are designed to carry traffic, not necessarily make the way easier for people. The downtown core is laid out with one way streets designed to make entry and egress easier, faster. You drive through downtown, not to the core.
Yesterday, as I walked from one meeting to another, I chose to consciously be present on the sidewalk as I walked. I chose to notice how I moved between people, cars and signposts. How I was present amidst people, cars and signposts.
Self-preservation won. If I didn’t stay present to the cars, I could easily have gotten in their way. If I didn’t stay conscious to the street numbers I could have lost my way. At one point, crossing from one side of the street to the other that bisected a one way avenue, I thought, “Hmmm… They put the name of the street only facing the traffic moving from the east to the west. I was walking west to east. To see the name of the street I was crossing, I had to turn my head and look behind me.”
Last night, in the Primetime for Emerging Women course lead by the irrepressible and essential Kerry Parsons that I am taking, we began with an exercise of ‘being present’. We stood in front of each person, and breathed into our own presence, their presence, our connected presence in the room. And when we became truly present, we said, “I am here.” and when they felt our presence truly here, they responded, “I see you here.”
It was a powerful and enlightening process. Slowly, I felt myself sink into being present. Completely. Openly. Honestly. Present. No veil. No barrier, no ‘bubble’ protecting me from being present to myself and the other. It was beautiful.
I thought of my walk earlier in the day along the streets of downtown Calgary. Like the cars, even though I was focused on ‘being present’, to ensure my safety and protect my limited time to get from point A to point B, I was more focussed on the information I was gathering about getting to the address where I was going, rather than the act of how I was walking, consciously connecting to the world around me.
It’s my Bubble World Attitude. I walk, drive, am, operate in the world from a place where fear of getting hit, falling, tripping over obstacles, running into dead ends, getting to the ‘church’ on time, keeps me doing whatever it takes to keep me safe — and separate — from the world around me.
In my Bubble World, vulnerability is not necessary — the thinking goes, “It’s not safe to be vulnerable walking the streets. You might get hit by someone or something.” In fact, when I got to my meeting, one of the people I was meeting with had somehow received a cut on his ear that kept bleeding. It was a windy day so the assumption was, a piece of debris had flown past and nicked his ear.
Aside from wearing a helmet, how do you avoid getting nicked by flying debris on a windy day in Calgary? (and yes, that’s a rhetorical question)
Like life, we can’t control the world around us. We can’t dictate how it will unfold, who will do what, go where, go how we determine. It is in its very unpredictability and unexpectedness that opportunities unfold, miracles happen. This is life. Nicks, bruises and falls are inevitable. It’s what we do with them that makes a difference.
Challenge is, in my bubble world attitude, I can often operate from a place of perceiving the world as filled with opportunities to stumble. And in my desire to not, I miss those special moments where I can fly free. I miss those divine opportunities to risk it all and leap into the unknown, confident in my gifts, my strength, my capacity to weather any storm and life’s desire for me to achieve all that I am here on earth to become.
The Universe is with me on that one — it needs me, wants me, has evolved through me to create opportunities for me to become all that I am when I let go of fearing, the fall.
And to inspire you this morning, I am sharing Dawna Markov’s signature poem from her book, I will not die an unlived life. We read it last night during the course and while I’d read it before, I’d never quite heard it like that! Open. Present. Vulnerable to the beauty of her words shimmering in the light of awakening.
I encourage you to take a moment during your day to read her words out loud, to savour each morsel and let them sink into your conscious awareness of being present, risking your significance to live, truly live, from that wild and brilliant place of your magnificence.
I Will Not Die An Unlived Life
by Dawna Markova
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance,
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom,
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.
I read your piece .. I don’t see a theme or a connect between those three bits.
But I do want to comment on your opening piece – because it connects to an issue I care about, which is to make our city, particularly the downtown core and the Beltline a more walkable environment. As we push for more densification and reduced cars on the road/more transit use, this is a growing concern … and it needs to be a year-round concern because, except for Chinook-y days, we are winter city ..
p.s. when are we getting together for that coffee/interview?
Haha — you caught me — I too didn’t see the link but thought I’d post as I’m on the fly this morning — early meeting. 🙂 And all three were thoughts I wanted to explore.
and it will have to be either Friday or the week after next This week is packed. And next week I’m coaching at Choices. I’ll connect later — and that’s a commitment!
I love this post in all its complexity and its nuances but I really struggle with some of the concepts (that’s me not you!) I just can’t seem to get to a point of this kind of peace (oh yeah and ongoing trouble with the evil in-laws haha – not!)
I have read and re read this post trying to come up with a comment but I can’t my mind is numb or tired it is 3am after all and I have been awake for an hour and half and I am just so tired now that I want to go back to bed…………so I think I will be doing that despite the complaints from Little Leo………..
A great post as always louise. It seems that you are taking a wonderful course. And the poem, I will not die an unlived life, I believe to be a great tribute for what we all need.