Shortly after I quit my job, left my apartment and the city I’d been in for almost 20 years, and left to wander the world to follow my heart, I woke up with a strong feeling. Not that I have no home, which is technically true, but that all places are my home. The whole world. Sure, there was lots of newness and confusion over which box holds what item, where are my clothes, but there was a very basic okayness that coursed throughout my being. Everything is absolutely okay, even though everything is very groundless and unknown.
I jumped into the shower at the apartment I was staying at – different soap, different water, so much to explore! The smallest things were fun and exciting. Echoes of my morning routine – my daily visit to *my* coffee shop around the corner from my apartment bubbled up. I could feel how previously I might have hung on to those thoughts, and turned them into fears. Turned them into chains, rigid structures, the building blocks of resentments – the walls of deep grooves down which we can spend a lifetime traveling. Back and forth along the same treads, wearing the groove in deeper and deeper. My daily trips to Spike’s Coffeeshop were wonderful. And, this new-to-me coffeeshop I found and sat at this morning is also wonderful.
The thoughts and judgements of good/bad, better-than / worse-than form the electrically charged guide-rails of the grooves of our lives that can stop us from leaving the groove. “This coffeeshop is better than that coffee shop”, so every single day I choose to go there. This provides a perceived comfort and security, an illusion of freedom from having to make a new choice. And shielding from the fears that might come up if we were to make a new choice.
And, along with that perceived safety it anesthetizes us, numbs us. Isolates us from new experiences. There is no universal fundamental scale against which a coffee shop can be measured objectively for its goodness, just as there is no such scale for human beings to judge our fundamental goodness. All the meaning of good and bad is invented, often more by our peers, the media or our culture than ourselves, and is subjective. I may want espresso, another may want drip; nothing inherent to either makes it better or worse. Yet we place such stock in our made-up value judgements that we use them to dig deep grooves to travel within, day after day, year after year, decade after decade.
Releasing our judgements, piece by piece, layer by layer, begins to tear down the side-walls of our grooves. Practicing in expanding our capacity to handle fear and uncertainty reduces the voltage or turns off the electrical fence surrounding them. Tear down enough and we can leap up and over them, and step out to begin to explore the rest of the landscape that is all around us. A landscape that is invisible from within the depths of our grooves.
Try going a different way to work. Try going to a different coffee shop! Do something entirely different after work this evening. Take an entire day off and make it a total “me-day” and only do things that make you joyful that you haven’t done in a while. Let a dream out to play. Step out of a groove.