These Are Not the Steps You’re Looking For

Like just about everyone with a heart not made of stone, I loved Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

(If you haven’t seen the movie yet, this post contains a minor spoiler, but if you haven’t seen it by this point, I wonder…are you really that worried about spoilers? You decide; it’s your innocence.)

I loved the badass female lead, I loved the story line of discovering one’s access to greater powers, but I ESPECIALLY loved that the movie ended with Rey climbing a bunch of old stone steps winding up a mountain to get to the teacher at the top who would–one can only assume–help her reach her badass potential in the next movie AAAAAH!

The credits rolled. I said to myself, “I gotta find me some of those steps.”

I’m fascinated by the things we’re drawn to without knowing why…

…Images, activities, people, places, animals, topics of study. At the first ping of interest, my antenna pops up, I try to pin a mental flag on the locus of the draw, because I know there’s probably some timely lesson in it for me if I remember to pay attention.

Now, if the object of attraction is something like…that snazzy pair of slingback sandals I covet, some examination might save me some unnecessary spending, or it might teach me about the image I’m trying to portray or blah blah blah. That’s all fine, but it is, admittedly, a little boring and certainly nothing worth blogging about. If the pull is a little more out of the ordinary, though–like the compulsion to find a set of old steps to climb–now we’re getting juicy.

Maybe you can relate to this:

It seems like I spent the first 10 years of my life learning the basics and just being, the next 10 – 15 years trying to adapt to the messages about what I should do and be, and then the next however many years trying to undo all of that now internalized and sticky “should”ing so I can live my best life and not someone else’s. Let’s call this process of getting back to the core of ourselves “unshoulding,” shall we?

When one of these illogical interests pops up, it can be a good, clear unshoulding shortcut.

Suppose you’re at a point in your life where you’re considering, say, spending more time and money on lawn care. You might need to ask yourself, Where does this come from? How much of this has to do with comparing my lawn to the others in my neighborhood? Do I feel pressured to do this to avoid judgment or project success? You might find you do not need to follow that urge to edge the driveway after all. You might weed out a boring, useless “should.”

But suppose you’re at a point in your life where you’re like, I don’t know why, but I just really want to learn to draw jellyfish…I think you must travel down that path, friend, and see what that’s all about, because where the hell did that come from if not from a true place? It might be an important clue to an inner path that’s absolutely sparkling with energy for you. Really, though. Scientists who study play report that the types of activities young children engage in when left to their own devices say a lot about their true calling in life; there is deep knowledge in the parts of us that are untouched by shoulds. I take these things seriously.

So these steps…

I started investigating. Of course, the spiritual climb toward higher knowledge is a recurring idea across cultures–think of the many temples and cathedrals built atop mountains. Think of that badass scene in Batman Begins where he’s climbing to start his hero’s training.

I researched tours of scared sites that might involve steps leading to something that would teach me. Where is the path to my highest potential? Machu Picchu? Montmartre? Who would be my teacher at the top? The Black Madonna? Shiva? My antenna was up, but I didn’t get any clear pings.

stairs-975595_960_720What is it about the “spiritual steps” anyway? The exertion of a physical climb to reach a higher vantage point is somehow humbling. Rather than the egoistic associations of achievement we might have with an image of ascending a ladder, climbing a mountain involves participating in something greater–something that dwarfs you. And making the climb along a set of steps means following a path that has been laid by unseen hands–maybe just for you and your destiny. So what did this have to do with where I am now? I didn’t land on anything, so I kind of gave up the research.

Then, the other day, I had to stop and laugh in the middle of my afternoon routine. I’m trying to be disciplined: every day, I come home from work, sling my backpack full of notebooks onto my back, and tromp down the bike path to my favorite café to work on this play I’m writing. Getting out of my house ensures I don’t get distracted watching bad TV and washing dishes, and the walk builds some exercise into my day. I take the long way, which follows the creek and then cuts up a big hill to the back of the café. Breathing heavy, halfway up the hill, I thought, “This thing is like a mountain.” Ha!

Here I’ve been downplaying this writing project, when it is my hero’s training at the top of the mountain. I’ve been searching for the spiritual steps in far-off lands of other cultures and other faiths instead of being alert to the sacredness of my own. I imagine my inner teacher thumping my antenna: Hello! Is this thing on?

What are you looking for these days, dear reader? Have you looked in the stores of your own wisdom yet? In your own backyard perhaps?



One thought on “These Are Not the Steps You’re Looking For

  1. Pingback: Showing Up and Hearing the Fear | Narrative Pull

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