Let yourself be silently drawn by the pull of what you really love. —Rumi, trans. Coleman Barks
Three years ago I entered a period of transformation. Live long enough, and a few such times of change will catch up with you—often after a life loss, such as a death or divorce. This time transformation took me by surprise because it happened after a joyous milestone.
No sooner had my first book been published than I realized that it didn’t satisfy in the way I’d expected. I felt ready for something more. That yearning gnawed at me. It disrupted my life.
In hindsight, I can see that the transformation had been sneaking up on me for months, even years. Reaching a milestone was simply the excuse it needed to step up close, tap me on the shoulder, and say, “Now.”
The call sent me deeper into unknown territory than I had any interest in going. It beckoned me to move further along the spiraling path that is my life. To take another turn toward the center.
Now, three years later, on the other side of that sometimes-bumpy ride, I notice something interesting. The motion of moving forward happened with a sureness that had little to do with me. I was muddling through, often not smoothly at all. I felt like a toddler taking bumbling baby steps. Sometimes I even kicked and screamed. After all, who enjoys getting their perspective upended? Especially their perspective on their own life?
But a larger force was also at work. It’s as if the spiral that was my life had the power to hold me and bear me inevitably toward the center. Even in a time of complete unknowing, I felt supported and guided by the life process itself.
I have less trouble now understanding Einstein’s concept of gravity. Not so much a tug exerted by one heavenly body on another (the way Newton saw it), gravity according to Einstein is a force that curves space-time itself. The curvature of space bends the paths that heavenly bodies—or light—can take. It interrupts the straight lines, sending things toward the center.
Curvature of the soul
I felt a sort of corresponding curvature within, like a curvature of the soul. The inner cosmos matched the outer. Though my progress on the new path was halting and uneven, and though I felt unsteady on my feet, something bigger than my conscious awareness was operating.
The center beckoned; the center guided me toward itself. I was toddling, but I was being carried as well. My feet didn’t have to be sure, for a sureness I didn’t possess was helping to bend my motion.
Stopping the motion
Of course it would have been possible to interfere with the momentum. I could have refused to take another turn toward the center—and I was tempted often to do just that.
All it takes to stop the motion is to listen to the little voice of reason: “This path is unfamiliar.” “You can’t earn a living this way.” “No respect for this route!” “You’ll be all alone.”
The voice of the sophisticated mind can be relentless. Give in to it, and it will reason you out of your center-driven momentum. Instantly a foot will step outside of the spiraling path. No longer unified—simple—you will become two. You will find yourself split.
But somehow I was prevented from stepping away. Bit by bit, I worked my way forward. I allowed the center to hold.
Toddling toward the center
The movement toward the center need not be elegant. The best motion is simple—as simple and brilliant as a child. She simply goes toward what she loves.
She is too young to be split against herself. Her mind is not yet sophisticated enough to reason herself out of what she wants.
She falls, she gets up, but she keeps making her way.
And her love gets her there.