What is it exactly that you’re yearning for?

A micron pen drawing of tangled roots

That’s the question I’ve been asking myself. It’s a good question, but potent. You have to be careful about when you ask it, and how.

I meandered about on Sunday, tending to my orchids, cleaning up, and getting clear about the days to come. But I was also adrift in my own thoughts, trying to find that seam of focus, that pull of light, that delicious current of purpose.

And I wasn’t finding it.

What is it exactly that I’m yearning for? I asked myself. Is it focus? Purpose? Meaning? Or maybe, Flow seasoned with all the aforementioned?

Basically I overthink everything, and then let Doubt enter the room in her fashionable clothes, and her snide friend Criticism came in, too, perfectly thin and oh so accomplished and centered. And of course I was doomed.

But it was Sunday, which gives a buffer to all things, that delicious day of seven, when we can do whatever we want, if we are lucky. And I am. So in the crowded room of overthinking, with Doubt and Criticism chatting it up about Our Future, which is also doomed, in part because of me and my muddled mind, I pulled out my sketchbook and began to doodle.

I don’t know what it is about this process that saves me, but it does. My mind settles and an image arises. I throw myself into that image and let everything else, even Doubt, and Criticism, and the cliff Our Future is approaching at a steady pace, fall away. All of it.

And on this day, the image that arose, as I untangled my mind, was a tangle of roots. I came back to my sketchbook throughout the day, like a touchstone or a prayer, refining the sketch, adding roots and layers. But it wasn’t until dusk that the roots spoke to me.

How are you nourishing yourself? they asked me plainly.

And curiously my purpose became as clear as a laurel’s, growing in the thick of the summer forest, branches twisting toward the light, drinking that warm Sun-body soup. My purpose is Light. My own, the world’s. Even Our Future’s light. It’s everyone’s purpose, I think, the expression of our unique light, building it, nourishing it, in ourselves and in others.

That’s my hocus pocus understanding of the world. It sounds better in poetry, but there you have it.

And the honest answer to the doodle-roots’ question was I’m not nourishing myself. I’m perhaps even slightly anemic. Because to be nourished means to be sustained, and strengthened, even cherished. It’s something we take in through our roots. And I am always chatting with Doubt and Criticism about how I could be better. More productive, more efficient, more. Meditate? Check. Exercise? Check. A list of things to be done, not a means of nourishing myself. Maybe you know what I’m talking about?

It seems to me that the two things–Flow, or Purpose, or some combination of these, and Nourishment–are symbiotic, and bound together, even as they reach in different directions, stretching us ever deeper and ever higher. And my doodle-roots were telling me that I could use a little more clarity and discretion about what I was absorbing from the world.

Gotta love those doodle-roots!

This does not mean turn a blind eye to the grief of the world, but rather, be nourished so that we have the strength and vision to kindle more Light in this precious life.

It’s funny, but also very clear to me, that our actions in a day resonate through out all aspects of ourselves. For Sunday was also a day I spent clearing out old clutter, and trimming off the dead roots of some of my orchids before repotting them. Then I spent the afternoon baking bread. And all these little threads were woven together, so that by the end of the day I had come to a new understanding of what it is I’m yearning for.

Just by paying attention to the threads we are weaving our lives with–the somber black, the maple-skin gray, the blood red, the Sun-body gold–we can deepen our nourishment and strengthen our growth. I think we all want those golden days of Flow and Purpose to be our default. Our natural way of being. It’s what I’m yearning for. And there’s a way to it. It’s a gentle weaving of attention and grace. A rootedness. And a sketchbook might help you get there. Or some other magic trick unique to your being.

Also, it’s not a bad idea to show Doubt and Criticism the door. But don’t let them take Our Future with them.

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