Lately several people have told me that they feel lost and anxious, unsure of what it is they are supposed to be doing with their lives. They say they feel an impulse to be of service to other people, to the planet with her many problems, but they seem to be unable to get a clear mandate of exactly what they should be doing. Some of these people are working in the world of business while others have already set up healing or counseling practices but feel that they haven't hit their full stride, that there is much more they need to be doing.
The question they have asked is "How do I know what I am to do next? How do I know which way to go, what project to pursue?" Although I used different words at the time I responded to these people, the best answer I know of was on a rubber stamp I saw the other day. I saw it again on a ceramic plaque at the Flower and Garden Show in Seattle. They both said: "Bloom where you're planted."
Wherever any of us are is where we need to be. It is the place that holds the most possibility and promise for us, even when that is very difficult for us to fathom. Human nature seems to always want what it doesn't have, always seeking to be where we are not. There is nothing wrong with that. It is called evolution and it is what can make us grow and explore in noble and expansive ways. There is a great secret, though, that most of us are never told about. That secret is this: until we can bloom where we have been planted we are not candidates for transplanting to a new garden! Until we have mastered the lessons of our current life situation, we won't be given another to work on.
What can be the most difficult is ascertaining what the current lesson is. Especially lately, it seems that everything is more convoluted, that we have to pay close attention if we want to see the truth of any situation. For many of the people in our community who feel stuck, who don't know what they're supposed to do next, I think the primary lesson to be learned right now is how to stay at center no matter what's going on in the outer world. It's much more glamorous to think you're supposed to be healing people, changing the world situation, or influencing Congress. Although all of those things are important, none of them will be effective unless the people doing them are coming from a place of inner-directedness, of deep connection with the source of all life, of a centeredness that can't be challenged by the ups and downs of life.
Center is that place you go inside when in deep meditation. It is the feeling of stability and calm that comes from being in contact with your soul. I've been listening to a tape series called How to be a No Limit Person by Wayne Dyer. He uses other words but talks about this concept, likening it to being the inner flame of a candle. It holds firm and is not affected by the movement of air around the candle. This is being at center: being calm, focused, and acting with intention no matter what sort of upsets are going on around us.
Finding center is not difficult. Learn to meditate and you'll find your center in no time at all. The trick is staying there once you leave the meditation room! It's staying at that place when you feel frustrated with people or situations around you. It's being there when you have physical challenges. It's living there when you feel adrift with your life, unsure that you're doing the right things.
This past month on distribution day (the day we distribute The New Times, one which is very hectic and busy) and the folllowing few days, I was given the opportunity to practice this. We had been having trouble with the on-off switch on the computer and I had taken it in for repairs for the second time after having had to write a letter of complaint to the general manager of the store. I had to make three trips to the computer store on one of our busiest days and the computer still wasn't fixed. I decided to let it go and just leave the machine there for a few days and let them work on the problem.
When I called about it a few days later, the technician claimed it had been repaired and picked up, that they didn't have it. Another day passed before I could go out there and convince them they had the machine. They told me it was fixed when the paperwork they handed me showed the machine had not been touched. I asked them to humor me and show me it had been fixed. It hadn't. Eventually a technician spent five minutes on the computer and had it repaired! It took five days to have a five-minute problem solved.
While all of this was going on, I went home one evening to discover a burst water pipe (yes, I had taken precautions). I admit my flame flickered more than once during those few days. I couldn't even blame it all on Mercury being retrograde because it wasn't. It was very difficult to think about blooming where I had been planted when all I wanted to do was pull up my own roots, grab my leaves and stem, and run off to a different garden that was less challenging. I wanted to be next to the chamomile and instead felt like I had been stuck in between two big thistles!
All of us are given opportunities such as these to practice the art of centeredness. Frequently, though, we don't see the situations as a chance to practice. Instead we panic or get depressed, or throw up our hands in desperation. Times such as these are practice sessions, times to see how we can live from our center when we are outside the secure walls of the meditation chamber. These times are not easy but in them we will find our path, our way to live in the world without being seduced into its erroneous beliefs in scarcity, competition, and ineptitude. I don't know of anyone who has accomplished anything great who didn't have to practice their craft. So do we.
Once we are on the path to living at our center, the next step will be presented. We will know what to do, where to go, whom to talk to. There probably won't be any thunder or lightning. More likely, there will be a simple knowing of the next step, an almost effortless move into our next path of service. Until then, if we fight where we are now we won't be at center and we won't hear our call when it comes.
Stand solidly in your current life. Be aware of everything and everyone around you. Put one hundred percent into whatever it is you are doing. Release the self-centeredness that insists your needs and desires must be met exactly how you want when you want. Let your roots reach deeply into the soil and soak up the nourishment that is there for you in your current life situation. Lift your head to the sun, rain, moon, and stars. Let the light penetrate every cell. Allow yourself to bloom exactly where you are. Be the flower that everyone stops to gaze at, the one that gives off the sweet aroma of life's goodness. Allow yourself to be transplanted, used in a flower arrangement, or even composted if that is what your gardener wishes to do with you. Bloom where you are planted and you will never have to ask the question, "What's next?" You'll know.