As I walked my awakening path, years ago I noticed that New Year’s resolutions, goal setting, and all the traditional kinds of visioning for the future-type-tasks became increasingly empty and meaningless for me. So I did nothing for a bit, and that became equally problematic. Sitting in emptiness is wonderful in meditation and in essence, not so great when things need to happen in the world of form. I had to find a new way to think about alignment, intention, and vision for my life, and especially for my career.
I went on a journey of trying on different approaches and frameworks to see what resonated most for me. And then I found my solution sitting by a waterfall in the Sierra Mountains. But the journey of how I got there was key to my clarity.
At Sequoia National Park, my husband and I were doing a glorious out-and-back hike. After considering turning around at different points, we took turns saying, “No, let’s keep going – a little farther.” We each had a sense that there was something more around the bend, that we were simply not done until we were done.
We reached a lovely, small waterfall in the shade of the forest that started high above us and cascaded down the canyon below us. In the fullness of awe and peace, I thought, “This is it. We must be complete, it must be time to turn around.” But it was my husband’s turn to say, “No. There’s more. Let’s keep going.”
Another half mile in and around a bend, a break in the trees unveiled a larger more spectacular waterfall drenched in the sunlight, adorned with flowers and accompanied by dancing butterflies and dragonflies. We stopped in our tracks and took in this scene of mini-paradise. We pried our eyes away from the waterfall for a moment and realized that we also had a spectacular view of the Western Divide in one direction and the foothills in the other direction. It took our breath away.
We spent a long time resting and soaking in the beauty. Eventually, we hiked the four miles back to our car feeling like we were flying, buoyed by the magic and the beauty.
The next morning I woke up hearing a word, “Fulfillment.” I felt more fulfilled than I had in a long time, and hadn’t even realized I was missing fulfillment. I sat with the inquiry – What is fulfillment, exactly, without ego?
Fulfillment felt to me akin to wholeness; a kind of resting in action, moving forward with a sense of always being home. I rested in a sense of alignment also; I am where I need to be, doing what I need to be doing.
I analyzed why our hike the day before gave me a sense of fulfillment, and here’s some of my clarity:
- We were on the path that felt aligned and true for us
- We listened and kept going or turned around when it was true
- We collaborated
- We fully received the beauty, and magic
- We rested in the spaciousness and presence of the Divine.
But not every day can be like vacation, and I’m not going to do an eight mile hike in the Sierras every day! So, extrapolating from this experience, I asked, what are the questions that could apply to any situation? From that inquiry, these questions arose:
- Am I doing what I am called to be doing? (Am I on the path I need to be on?)
- Am I listening to the deepest movements of life? (Do I continue when I need to continue, turn around when I need to turn around?)
- Am I realizing the inherent potential of each moment and life overall? (Am I saying yes to possibilities and relishing in each moment?)
- Am I collaborating with the people I’m called to collaborate with?
- Am I, in any way, holding back or resisting any flow of life?
As I’ve shared these questions with clients over the years, they have found it helpful. But your questions may need to be adjusted/attuned for you and your life.
How do these questions resonate for you?
What creates fulfillment for you?
Is there a concept that is more alive and aligned for you than fulfillment?
What questions are most alive and aligned to ask yourself this year?
I enjoy bringing different evocative inquiries to my friends and family to hear their unique perspectives and I encourage you to do the same if you are called. Blessings for fresh beginnings in the New Year!