At one point in our travels, my hubby and I made a trip to the beautiful Milla Milla Falls in Northern Queensland. We had arrived just shortly after the last cyclone had destroyed so much of the beautiful countryside and many of the trails and roads were damaged and blocked. It was awe inspiring to witness the ability of nature to destroy what we look at as so permanent and solid … whole forests where the trees were uprooted, broken and tossed like matchsticks … forests left looking like broken fields of stubble. Like many tourists, I had seen countless pictures of the famed falls and dreamed of one day being able to visit them, imagining them to be exactly like the pictures promised. I could not help but feel a bit disappointed and cheated that we were going to see them in these circumstances, in the aftermath of a horribly destructive cyclone. We slowly made our way through flooded and damaged roads and detours, to the falls. Once we arrived, we parked the car and walked down the road to get a closer look.
There were quite a few people there but everyone spoke in hushed tones. The falls appear to just “silently” slip over the side of the cliff and “rain” down into the calm quiet pool beneath. I was lost in the tropical lushness, the smells, and the sounds. Even a cyclone seemed to have little impact, if its point was to try and destroy it. All I could think of was how long those falls had been there and the countless generations who had stood, as I was then, in awe of the beauty. I could see lovers slipping in late at night, children laughing and splashing one another, grandparents taking off their shoes and wading in “just a bit.” A deep spirit of life permeated each second we stood. I had never fully appreciated water and its relevance to life before. Growing up in water rich Canada, we never faced rationing of supplies or worried concern that the dams were not filled. Here in Australia, I was learning that the land was a hard task master and that we honoured and appreciated every resource we were given. Here water had survived the storm and stood untouched, while trees all around had been ripped from their roots and tossed across the land. This water flowed, as does the life blood of the Australian people. It was awe inspiring to stand there that day. I breathed in, wanting to flood my soul with all of it so that I would always be able to close my eyes and come back to it, whenever I wanted to. I cautiously snapped some pictures, already knowing that they would not begin to do justice to what we were seeing and feeling. It was just another way to hang on to the moment, even though we knew the real imprint was on our hearts.
Suddenly a car roared up beside the Falls. The rest of us had parked away from the falls and walked in., but this car drove through the scattered groups of people and parked itself right in front. Dust flew through the air and temporarily hid the car from view. Once the dust cleared we could see it was a convertible and you could immediately tell, without even looking at the license plate … a tourist. The man behind the wheel, without turning his head, lifted an expensive camera high into the air, clear of the car, and snapped a couple of times. He dropped the camera on the seat beside him, grabbed the steering wheel with one hand, the gear shift with the other and sped away. I am not sure he even knew there were other people on the road as he roared off.
In the end, we all had our pictures to remind us of the day, as witness to the fact we had been there. And yet, I am sure we each took away distinctly unique impressions. Some people go through life with high expectations and when those are not met, they are disappointed. Others live each moment and take whatever they are given and find the meaning within it. That way, life could never disappoint.
During part of my career, I did some conferences with some of the New Age Gurus of the time. I noticed something odd about the masses of people who thronged to the conferences and the workshops … they were often the same people. Over the years, it became apparent that for many, the process of learning was not a process at all, just an endless scavenger hunt where they collected all the evidence of having “been there, done that.” There did not appear to be any practical or personal application. Having people tell me I gave a great talk or held a super class was not enough. I tried very hard to change the way I did workshops and to make sure I made every effort to connect with the participants and facilitate their learning to apply the lessons in practical ways in their lives, instead of just gathering another workbook and ticking off another name on the speaker’s list. It changed the way I listened to classes I attended.
At some point in the journey of our lives, we have to get beyond the theory and do some practical living. That means stepping out of our heads (all left brained and limited) and being in the moment (using the right brain and being whole brained and limitless). We have to apply what we have learned and figure out what it, if anything, it means to us. Use it or lose it.
Without that, we are stunted in our growth much like the person who refuses to eat. The person who doesn’t eat fails to nourish their physical body and they eventually wither away and die. Our minds and souls also require nourishment, exercise, and use. That nourishment cannot be gifted to us from someone else. THAT nourishment is temporary and ultimately dissatisfying, We need to connect to our own power source. Wisdom, all the understanding of the world, who you are and how things work, is there within you, It is already part of you. The journey was never meant to be just about an outward physical experience. To make sense of the physical you need to employ your own wisdom, your own understanding. You need to connect with that power within YOU.
There is no need to purchase endless books, attend endless seminars, have people offer to sell you “the secret.” It is like saying to you that I will sell you the secret of life and then telling you about air and the need to breathe. Air is there for the taking, for free. It existed before I decided to sell it and it is yours without paying me a dime. There is no need for you to completely understand how I analyse it in order for you to reap the benefits of it.
So, do we simply collect our pictures, our learnings, and carry them with us through our lives in neat scrapbooks to show? For some, it is a lovely scrapbook with coffee table presentation that says, “I have done all this which is more than you, therefore I am a great human-doing and should be honoured and revered.” The educated, degreed person often has this expectation of applied reverence in connection with their presence in any social setting. For others, it is an emotional war zone where they freely exhibit their war wounds worsened with spiritual PTSD, and enact their tragedies over and over again, asking you to journey to their own private hell with them daily.
When we stop collecting experiences as if quantity trumps quality, we may be read to actually learn the lesson and then be able to apply it to life. When we can do that, the moment has been perfect, no matter what the particulars of it has been. We enable the energy of life to flow to us, through us, and continue on its way. We are blessed because of that flow. We are energized and renewed. We take the moments, and learn the lessons, apply them to us, and let go of the rest.
When we do not do that, we collect the books, the pictures, the wounds …. and we carry them with us even though they have no value whatsoever. Everyone can take a picture. What does the picture mean to you? THAT is the gift we have to offer others. Yet people constantly choose to carry the guilt, the beliefs that limit us, the education that does not serve us, the people who destroy us, the ideas that keep us in our boxes. We carry all that extra weight throughout our lives. We hurry to collect more because we want to be able to prove we have lived.
I teach my clients to first learn to be in the moment, to embrace life . I talk to them about going to their “falls” and standing there and being open to feeling. I encourage them to listen to what that inner wisdom tells them about the meaning of this experience for them. Each person can find what they need and not one experience may be the same as anyone else’s and it is all ok. Storms come and go, trees are broken, we are broken, but the life-giving water is as the spirit … it is always there.
The spirit was there before the storm, it is there during the storm, it is there after the storm.
Sometimes the roads are blocked and we cannot get to the water. We do that in our lives when we separate from spirit – as you may right now be separated from your higher power, the energy of life, God, … whatever you call it or define it … but it is still there. We all choose to experience it in our own way, but the invitation is always to breathe deep and hold on to that life force. To hold on to YOU.
That is what the moment at Milla Milla taught me. In a conference, the lesson is not what the teacher says, it is what my inner voice says to me ABOUT what the teacher says. It is about how this applies to me, how I can use it. Nothing else is worth keeping. I take the moment, I use it, apply it, and move on.
The picture may provide proof we were there but the way it impacts our lives bears a healing witness to the power of that moment. Each of us gets to choose whether our moments are quickly gathered glimpses or long deep thirsty drinks of the water in front of us. I hope you fill your cup to overflowing.