Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Serendipity and Intention
Last night, my Deepening Circle celebrated our tenth anniversary with cake and sparkling wine. Twice a month, since October 23, 2002, we have gathered in a living room or a restaurant to discuss prearranged topics, enjoy free-form discussions, and share our music, histories, and dreams with each other. Members have come and gone, but the group goes on.
We were all a little hazy on our starting date. The original agreement was to meet for six months, then disband or continue as we saw fit. Our beginning had none of the trappings of a ten-year journey, just an experiment that we had agreed to carry out for a few months. The historical record surfaced when Callie, one of the two women responsible for launching the group, found an old e-mail printout as she was decluttering her house. The e-mail had a list of the original members of our group, our contact information, and the time and date of our first scheduled meeting. Callie found this just a couple of days before last night's scheduled meeting, just in time to get the cake and wine (one of her dad's favorite brands, which happened to be on sale) so that she could surprise us with her discovery.
October 23, 2002 was a Wednesday, and we've been meeting on Tuesdays. I don't remember if we changed our meeting day after that first meeting, but it doesn't matter. Callie's serendipitous finding of that e-mail added a touch of magic that honored our ten years of intentional community.
I like to think that we discover things that have been there all along by focusing our attention toward finding them. Like tuning in to a particular radio station -- the radio waves are there all the time, but you have to tune your receiver to a specific frequency in order to hear the music. That presupposes, however, that you have the right kind of receiver already and that you either know what kind of music that station plays, or you scan all the frequencies available to you until you find what you want.
But what about things that come to you unbidden -- things that you didn't even know how to ask for (consciously, anyway)? What is it that goes on outside of our consciousness that brings just what we need when we need it, even if we didn't know we needed it? Things have come to me that I didn't know how to ask for, or that I have asked for but that came in a form that I couldn't have imagined. Job offers, a cherished pet cat, lovers, a 35-mm camera, my current home, an artist whose work moves me in ways that I still don't understand.
So we do this curious dance, acting intentionally and purposefully, while keeping a space open for the unexpected. Too much open space, and you lose all focus. You drift aimlessly through the fog. Too little space, and your possibilities become limited to what you already know, what your mind is willing to admit. The world sees you as being self-sufficient, so it offers you no help. Other people need to see some open space so that they can gain access to your life.
But even there, we have to maintain a balance. You don't just leave your front door open to let strangers wander through your home and take what they please. You don't invite the neighbors in to watch your most intimate moments with someone you love. (Or maybe you do! I don't.) There has to be a safe space where you can guard the tenderest and most precious things. A place where you can retreat to safety when the world gets to be too much. But if you spend too much time in your sanctuary, the world goes on without you. People forget that you exist, and it's hard to come back out and find a friend when you need one.
Serendipity and intentions. Engagement and retreat. It's all a big balancing act, a big ebb and flow. An acknowledgement that we have the power to love things into existence, and a willingness to receive what we did not create.
The image at the top of this blog posting is something that I've been using as an icon for a some of my social media accounts for the last few years. I found it on the Internet, unexpectedly, while I was looking for something else. It really captures the concept of the balancing act for me. If you know the original source of this image, please leave a comment below.