Living the beautiful questions - at camel's pace
Updated: May 12, 2021
Photo ID 13434572 © Dean Riley | Dreamstime.com
“The human spirit moves at the pace of a camel”, a very well-respected and seasoned psychologist recently said to me. If there is only one thing I am on this planet to learn to accept; I think this is it. In my 20’s I thought I could live at the pace of a cheetah; then in my thirties, I begrudgingly accepted that perhaps it was more like a springbok (which is not all that much slower than a cheetah). So, to receive this news by a trusted elder only days before turning forty, was, to put it mildly, a rather ruthless act on behalf of the universe, I felt. And a severe and bitter disappointment.
People are talking a lot more about ‘beautiful questions’ these days, and about living and ‘loving the questions’ as Rainer Maria Rilke says in his book Letters to a Young Poet: “Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue”. So here is a beautiful question for you: How on earth do you do that? Reading this for the millionth time today made me think that perhaps all of us coach, psychologist, helper types love being coaches/psychologists/helpers because we’re so impatient with living our own questions that being able to help other people live theirs brings some relief. Maybe feeling like you’re helping someone else move forward helps one to deal with the excruciatingly slow progress in our own lives.
The first few days of the year always feel like an opportunity not to be missed to realign, redefine, and rescript one’s life. Checking in that I’m still heading in the direction I want to be heading in and that I’m living the right questions (given how slow it takes to bloody live them, they should at least be the right ones). As the years have progressed from cheetah to springbok to now camel (*sigh*) my lists of new years resolutions, turned goals, turned intentions, turned mild ambitions, have become shorter and shorter. The once vigorous energy the New Year held, has been replaced by a kind of purposeful resignation to the limitations of how much I can achieve in a year. Without killing myself with exhaustion that is, and the inevitable malcontent when I achieve the long-awaited goal and move straight onto the next one.
So, this year, I have crafted myself some questions I think are beautiful and worth living into, and which I have no doubt will cause immense frustration throughout the year because they’ll be so slow in resolving themselves. And half will probably make their way back onto my list for next year. And then I’ve set myself some intentions that feel very exciting and a little out of my league and stretching, but which have embarrassingly generous time frames attached to them (i.e. if I make one tiny step in the right direction I get a gold star kind of stuff) in the hopes that I can eventually accept and live into the camel-paced existence of my own human spirit. Happy New Year, everyone. May you live patiently into your own beautiful questions and intentions and be generous with yourself in how slowly you’re likely to answer and achieve them.