White empty space. A vast white field covered in snow, with a white cloudy sky above, and white fog covering trees in the distance. You’re sitting there alone wearing nothing but flip flops, soaking in the silence. Freezing wind touches your skin. Time and the world don’t exist.
* * *
For the last few months I was running on fumes, handling both baby and work projects in a frantic frenzy. The moment I finally closed my work laptop one last time, packed my suitcase and left for a yoga retreat, I felt like a rug got pulled from under my feet. My mind went completely blank. I couldn’t put a coherent sentence together.
I used to be afraid of groundlessness. But this time, I knew I was exactly right where I needed to be. With my husband and friends to catch me when I fall, in a beautiful cozy space with a few yoga sessions per day, I could just watch things unfold, knowing that I was safe.
Right after arrival, I went for a Lomi Lomi massage. It’s a very gentle kind, more of a hug than of an opening. In the past I’d probably choose something stronger, more powerful, more transformational. But this time I knew I was broken open enough on my own, and what I needed most was feeling loved and accepted in my brokenness. I’m glad I know myself enough now to be able to tell things like this.
And then, sitting alone in the snow cooling down after sauna, I felt more peaceful and grounded than I could have imagined.
A few years ago vast empty space underwater gave me a panic attack. Now emptiness feels like home, one I can always return to and rest in its embrace.
* * *
This is the first time in more than 10 years when I don’t have a job, or even vague plans for getting one. I know I could find one fast if I needed to, but I can afford not working for now and just spending time with my baby instead.
Work used to be a huge part of my identity, of my sense of self-worth and feeling like I contribute enough. I had to process my feelings around this before going on maternity leave, but at that time leaving my job was temporary. Now I’m going into the unknown for indefinite time. I know I’ll return to work eventually rather sooner than later, but how? And in what form? I haven’t the faintest idea, and I’m not in a hurry to find out.
There are so many things I could be doing, but are they more important than just being present with my baby? What direction do I want to move towards?
I used to feel anxious when I had no idea where I was headed to. Now I’m relaxing into the free fall, curious what happens next.
In a way, it feels like for the last few years I was preparing just for this moment, to take a dive into the groundlessness without being overwhelmed by it. I know some kind of a direction will crystallize eventually, but until then I can playfully explore whatever happens around.
* * *
One theme I need to tackle this year is my relationship with money and constraints in general. When I can’t have or keep everything, which options do I want to choose? So far I bought every book or online course that caught my attention, even though I hardy finished any in the last year. Maybe it’s time to finish or officially quit whatever I’m reading or learning before starting another book or a course? Maybe it’s time to take notes of whatever I’ve read to make sure I learned the most important lessons?
With no external constraints on my time, how do I put my own ones in their place so I just don’t spend the most of my days scrolling Twitter? And how do I make sure they empower a free playful exploration instead of just checking things off my todo list?
When my first impulse is to buy something new, can I use something I already have in its place? Can I borrow it from someone or make it myself? Buying myself time, optionality and peace of mind was my default so far, in what situation is it not serving me well now?
I’m entering this year with more questions than answers, more vague wishes than plans, and more desire to remove things from my life than to add to it. I thought I’d be excited to quit my job and finally have the life that I want, now it feels much more like a quiet snowy day.
With white empty space stretching in all directions, I can lay down in fresh snow and just let it embrace my skin for a minute, piercing cold and peaceful at the same time.
The snowy blanket is perfect. The emptiness is perfect.
This is exactly where I need to be right now.