These decisive times: Coming to the edge, softly

These bizarre times seem to be inviting us all to become soft and curious. We can’t know where they are going, can’t micromanage any outcomes, we can only do what we can do…and watch, and wait, and be our best selves in each moment.

This morning after yoga, I felt suddenly compelled to pull three Oracle cards from the pack I keep next to my mat, for the first time in a very long time, which in itself tells me something. I have been in a self-determinant mood lately, not so much into receptivity and having outcomes come to me as I used to be but, well, now and with a little wry smile, I have been observing myself with curiosity from the sidelines as all that mindset has been flipped for me in the last few days. All those new-and-very-positive structures of activity and direction I built in the early part of the year have now dissolved away, my “outside” activities cancelled until further notice and so I find myself back where I have just been for the last 14 years; home alone with my inner work; only, its not really the same and is already feeling markedly different…enough to make me even more curious. My experience of it simply gives me some advantage because I know what it is to spend a lot of time alone with my thoughts, pulled back from the fray, doing things in isolation but yet there is no sense of this being a repeat.


Colette Baron-Reid Wisdom of the Oracle cards

So I pulled three cards and those cards said it all. Yin. A Fork in the Road. Come to the Edge. Yes, it’s a time for receptivity, to gather clues, to allow something other than oneself to make that first move; not to determine and force and structure our outcomes according to our mental designs but to receive, with curiosity, whatever is next. And yes, it is a fork in the road for all of us; since, I suspect, nothing will ever be quite the same again after this pause in the harum-scarum momentum of materialistic life. Finally, Come to the Edge (a topic I wrote about in my post On Edge recently); surely what all of us are being invited to do, without fear…to face what is undoubtedly a leap, of course, and not without risk but not one we should dread but, rather, an opportunity to cease skirting round and around it, finally, to make a leap of faith.

Since I detached from the collective panic, a topic I wrote about last week in my other blog, what I glean here is abundant opportunity and, whilst this might not make me popular, might not even ring true to those deep in dire circumstances and dread for their health, for the welfare of their family, their income, the longevity of their job or business (believe me, I have those circumstances too) I notice a collective pulling together such as has never happened in my lifetime before; and which NEEDED to happen. Its as though someone tapped their baton on the edge of the music stand to call the tuneless cacophony of a warming-up orchestra to cease its rabble and now we are in that phase…the breath held…before the harmony begins to swell from the many and varied members of humanity’s orchestra. Just imagine: from then on, we are no longer that cacophony, which was merely the practice run, the seemingly disparate noises making a terrible din, because that was then and now….well, now we are going into the prepared symphony, as was always destined. We all know our parts, if only we can self-listen for a time in order to remember them and not get distracted by somebody else’s part…and perhaps this pause away from the outwardly collective life will help. It’s a time for pulling together, yes, and also a day to practice our individualised inner work, to hone our own frequencies, to polish off our compassion and we are seeing that all over the world (and music playing a big part).

So much will change, I suspect, out of this pause of interminable length: how and where we work, why we work, how long we work, what and for what reason we consume, what we prioritise, how we connect, the ways we support each other, how much we appreciate what we once took for granted, and the degree to which are able to grasp how undeniably connected we all are because no man or woman is ever an island…we are a contagion, whether we like it or not. The good news is that all things are contagious; laughter, positivity, mindsets, priorities, the ability to grasp what we are really here to be and do on this planet…that is, our collective and individual responsibilities as stewards (not owners) tied into a long and inseverable relationship with it and each other. Our actions have consequences and, if misguided, these can be dire, yes; and yet from that we also learn about our immense power…to alter things, to pull out all the stops, to make things happen, altering trajectories in just a few days; so, imagine what we could do with that knowledge. Just imagine if we took rapid and drastic-seeming action, as is happening right now, for the planet and our future…imagine if we did it motivated by love and positivity instead of fear and panic?

So we are moving from “I” into “we” and its in perfect time that a shift is being facilitated; perhaps one that was never going to happen when people were too busy, too preoccupied, much too caught up in the ceaseless pressure of the need to survive, to keep doing what they are doing, spinning all those plates, and with all the readily available distractions of an outside-oriented life, day after day. Whilst survival might feel on the line right now, its really far less of a risk, collectively, than it was when we all carried on in the zombie-like dream state of the old preoccupations and the dire trajectory they inevitably led to. Now, waking up, shaken up, halted in their path to take an enforced breather, people are much more likely to rub their eyes and start to see…something different, some new way forwards.

So, in my case, having already lived the inner life for years, and after only the briefest of sojourns doing its opposite, I find myself pulled back in again; advised to treat myself like someone over 70 because of my preexisting health conditions and so I am softly resigned to a schedule of near nothingness for the foreseeable future. Its oddly liberating, like a rewind back to childhood, including that feeling of somehow being taken care of by an agency “bigger” than me (the universe has my back); so I found myself relaxing, thus sleeping, far deeper than I had for a long time last night, once I had digested there was nowhere to go because it had all been cancelled. Because, even when I was “inwardly oriented” before, I was always telling myself there were things I “ought” to be doing, places I “ought” to be, outside advice I “ought” to seek, and so on and so forth…always that feeling of something urgent needing my attention and of consequences if I didn’t address it. At last, I surrender all of that and find myself continuing much as I have already learned to do, preparing food simply, reading much, walking slowly, appreciating and noticing the minutiae of nature, listening to music and to all those audios I’d been meaning to catch up on for ages and….at last, at very last…with the urge to paint rising up again.

So, though I am pulled back from that first beginning of a leap “out” into life, I can rest easy that it wasn’t a false start, I didn’t get it wrong, and it was an important taster of things to come; but I do see how it was just a recognisance, a trial run at things. Already, I notice all that I too-quickly surrendered from the inner life, those parts of it that continue to serve me well (the softness, the slowness, the receptivity…), and how I was at risk of turning that outer life back into the ingrained habits of an earlier life, not reinventing it anew as intended. Next time around – and there will be a relaunch back into outward-oriented, busy life for all of us again pretty soon – I can already glean how I would do it somewhat differently…appreciating more…fearing less…listening and receiving, not always pre-empting…and I am only on day one of my enforced softness so who knows what I will have come to realise by then. My aim as regards this unusual experience we are all in is and which, undoubtably, demands a decision of each of us since we are at that fork in the road is…not to try to capture it, not to over-structure it, or to turn it into hard theories the moment it presents what it does, but to remain soft and receptive and curious, over and over again; allowing it to serve to me what I didn’t know I had ordered and then to unwrap it with fascination but much less of the precognition and much more openness to the surprise. Imagine the effect, if even a modest portion of us spend the next few weeks doing this…what we could bring online together as a result of this forking of ways, in no time at all.

About Helen White

Helen White is a professional artist and published writer with two primary blogs to her name. Her themes pivot around health and wellbeing, expanded consciousness and ways of noticing how life is a constant dance between the deeply subjective and the collective-universal, all of which she explores with a daily hunger to get to know herself better. Her blog Living Whole shines a light on living with high sensitivity, dealing with trauma and healing from chronic health issues. Spinning the Light is an extremely broad-based platform where she elucidates the everyday alchemy of relentless self-exploration. A lifetime of "feeling like an outsider" slowly emerged as neurodivergence (being a Highly Sensitive Person with ADHD, synaesthesia, sensory processing challenges and other defecits overlapping with giftedness). All of these topics are covered in her blogs, written from two distinct vantage points so, if you have enjoyed one of them, you may wish to explore the other for a different, yet entirely complimentary, perspective.
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2 Responses to These decisive times: Coming to the edge, softly

  1. cathytea says:

    I feel very similar. I’m inspired by the kindness and care of leaders in my community. And I feel so relieved that I will be working from home for the next weeks to months. Such a huge load removed from me.

    With the climate crisis, many more threats will continue to demand widespread societal responses, and the community responses to coronavirus show what we’re capable of.

    I also think that autistics have much to contribute! We already know what it means to be socially isolated and how to be resilient in response, and our out-of-box solutions and ability to see problems without glossing them over have a lot to offer!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen White says:

      Yes! Seems that we have more than a few traits that make us well-equipped for these times. As I just shared with a fellow INFJ (same applies to all the introvert types) we already have the skillset of being fine, even at our best, when we go inwards and perhaps those skills will help steady others as we draw on the resources we’ve gathered for a whole lifetime and either model or directly share them.


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