Tuning In

In my time, I have examined the lines on my hand and traced them back to a book on palmistry to learn if the story of me was encoded in these furrows. I would fixate over where the heart line intersected the life line, where the head line terminated and how the folds in my fingers indicated my inner nature. I was searching for clues for who I was and who I needed to become.

Our present selves have an innate curiosity about our future selves. We are clue gatherers, searching for signs that we’re on the right path, following our mark and taking stage direction as we should. Most of us want to live the life we believe is intended for us, we just struggle to fully understand the actual intention of our lives.

It takes ongoing, genuine focus to remain attentive to the life we’re living. Striking that delicate balance between living life and being lived by life is a narrow path. When we set New Year’s resolutions or change our jobs, skills, or relationships it’s because we imagine a new, and perhaps better, possible future for ourselves.

We have arrived at the halfway point in the year. It’s the time when our notoriously elusive New Year’s resolutions either skulk back to the darkened recesses of our minds like disobedient troglodytes, or earnestly entreat us not to give up and use the balance of the year to course correct and reinvigorate our earlier promised transformation.

To help us assess our state of transition, we need some stirring questions. They need to be uncomfortable questions that carry a charge – that provoke attention. We need to re-energise our distracted focus and ensure we are staying authentic to those imagined futures we conjured up in January. We also get to refine our progress and double check that what we wanted still holds true for the months that will carry us towards 2018.

As I approached the midpoint of my own promises for 2017 I have rested and imagined the questions that I should ask myself. These are questions that carry a current and whose answers might energise a cause, release a blockage or breadcrumb a new path for my future self to say, like a deja-vu memory, yes that’s the way forward. See what answers you get if you ask yourself the following questions:

Am I in the right story?

The quote from Mo Willems, “If you ever find yourself in the wrong story, leave.” seems to me the simplest and most profound piece of advice. Persevering through unnecessarily arduous pain based on pride, or the misunderstood rules of life, is pointless. Many of us might believe there is something glorious in martyring our way through life. Martyrs and victims are very close kissing cousins and that victim mindset is a slippy slope into a pit of helplessness.

Take action if your story is failing you. Authoring a new possibility is a very empowering act. Saying, “This is not right for me,” sets in motion a kaleidoscope of options one of which can become the next scene for your revised personal narrative.

What is life asking me to release?

In order to change we need to let go of the past: old ideas about our identity, limiting thoughts about how the world works, faulty beliefs about what others think about us and what we think about ourselves. Your thinking may need upgrading if you want to run your personal system off the best thinking available.

It’s particularly tricky to be something new when you show up as your old self day in and day out. Those new behaviours struggle to find space in your life if the old behaviours still take up all your time. Cutting free from those old attitudes creates a space where new thoughts can form and gradually a new identity grows like delicate crystals supported by the new habits and practices you trial.

 What’s it like to be with me?

If we allow ourselves the luxury of aloneness and an opportunity to connect with just ourselves, it’s interesting to observe who shows up. Once we quieten the voices (real or imagined) demanding that we get this done or don’t forget about that task that must be delegated and those people who need to be contacted, a different presence emerges like a grateful ingénu(e).

It’s so easy to fill free time with a multitude of distractions. From the mundane to the necessary duties required to keep life moving and the tempting allure of media, our attention is magnetised away from ourselves. Carving out time to consider you and how you are travelling on your journey is a habit well worth making. It’s a great tonic to life if the person you most enjoy spending time with is yourself.

What needs to be forgiven?

The trespasses we have done to the sensibilities of others and even more interesting, the trespasses done to ourselves, can be casually passed over. Moving away from the desire to apply ethics to our actions takes the whole polarity of rightness and wrongness out of the consideration.

If you were to grant mercy upon yourself and I kindly offer up a graceful mindset that said, ‘I’m learning about this still, I’m learning to get this right and have yet to master this skill, this quality, this way of being,” would you free yourself from unhelpful and perhaps paralysing guilt? It’s hard to move forward when we can’t stop looking at the past versions of ourselves and judging what we’ve done like some angry Abrahamic god.

What will the future me be grateful for?

When you look back on a past event, that at the time, seemed cruelly unjust or an act of capricious and chaotic misfortune, you can with the wisdom of hindsight see how this event helped stitch your current life together by taking you in a new direction or away from a messy possible future.

The apparent accidents of your life turn out to be the great transformers. If you can transport yourself back to a memory so to can you project yourself into an imagined future. Let your future-self look at the you of today and allow that future being to say thank you. And then realise what you are saying thank you for.

There is a beautiful Australian Aboriginal word, dadirri, that describes the human concept of inner deep listening and quiet still awareness; the ‘tuning in’ experience to deeply understand the beauty of the world and your inner nature in response to it. Dadirri recognises the inner spirit that calls us to reflection and contemplation of the tremendous mystery of being alive.

The future of you may be disguised in the lines on your hand and the constellations present at your birth may solve the enigma that is you and your purpose on this planet. My experience tells me that when we take time to practice dadirri we can tune into what is happening now and where we need to go to next to take us towards our intended future.

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  • Michelle
    July 9, 2017 at 5:18 pm

    Dadirri is a beautiful word and I love the meaning. I often think about how my story is going – do I like it, do I need to change it. Thank you for being part of my story Cal, I love these reflective moments that you share with the world!

    • Cal McDonnell
      July 11, 2017 at 2:09 pm

      Thanks. I like sharing the world with you too

  • Shona
    August 21, 2017 at 7:39 pm

    Oh how I miss your deep musings Cal. Have you taken a new path since July and stopped writing these blogs?

    • Cal McDonnell
      September 11, 2017 at 7:25 pm

      Hi Shona
      I’ve been super busy with the renovation
      Back on board this month!


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