Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Not Waiting for Life to Get "Better"

This morning the sun is blazing forth, trumpeting “Live!” in a clear blue sky. The buds on the trees are unfurling un-weathered green into the world. Spring: undeterred and irresistible life, newness from the decayed ruins of the old, fresh starts and impossible hope.

It has been a year of legal arrangements and new adjustments since my marriage ended in April of 2010. And just as I approached the final collection of a few belongings from the former matrimonial home, sure that I would then be able to focus fully on new writing, my parents (both of whom have Alzheimer’s- my father in an advanced state, my mother recently diagnosed in the early stages) need my on-going assistance with new living arrangements.

Because that’s life- a series of continuous and unpredictable changes that demand our attention, disrupt plans and require flexibility. My desire for tidy, uninterrupted time and space for writing is understandable, but not to be. So, I’m writing anyway- in bits and pieces, in between meetings with doctors and social workers, after daily conversations with my mother (who, at 76, is living alone for the first time in her life,) in the early morning quiet and during the noon-day rush at roadside diners.

Because if we postpone the soul’s agenda until life clears away all the distractions and concerns, if we wait until things have reached some kind of imagined inner or outer ideal state of expansive uninterrupted calm, well. . . we’ll still be waiting as we slip from this world into what lies beyond.

At the end of radio shows many interviewers ask, “Is there one last thing- a central message- you'd like to leave with our listeners?"

I’ve done enough interviews you’d think I would have some snappy, articulate answer prepared, a concise and profound or witty comment ready for the moment. But no matter how many times it comes, I never seem prepared. Maybe it's because I don't think of myself as having "A Message." As Wavy Gravy said, I'm just another bozo on the bus, albeit one that likes to reflect on and write about the journey.

So lately, at the end of interviews, with only moments remaining, this is the response that arises from the request to offer one last essential thing:

“Life is messy. Accept this. It's okay to have a plan, just don’t focus on it. Things aren't likely to go according to plan. Focus on what you need to do next, right now. Pay attention to what has real value for you at the level of your body-heart-self- the people, places, activities and practises that help you feel truly alive, that support your ability to be present and kind. If there’s something calling to you, turn toward it and start walking. It may not lead where you think it will, but make a place in all of the wonderful chaos of life to listen deeply to the voice at the center of your being and pay attention to what it tells you.

Life is short and messy. Don’t postpone living until life gets neater or easier or less frantic or more enlightened. There’s a “catch” to the popular admonishment to “live in the Now.” It’s that the only way to be in the Now is to be Here, in the life and the body you have, and in the world we share, right now (not with the body or the world we hope to someday have or imagine we used to have.) This is it. And it will change. Choose life in all the small ways you can, every day.”

On some level, it all sounds so obvious, and I realize I am saying what I need to hear over and over.

So, I am writing- mostly about what it really means to love the life and world and being that I am/you are right now. And I find I can’t approach this loving and care-taking, as I once did, from a place of principled and disciplined practises (as much as I value the practises I have and continue to use.) This new loving of self and life is. . . messier in the ways that organic things are messy- different aspects growing at different speeds, circuitous routes of growth following the instinctual need for light and warmth, some parts blossoming as others decay and feed the roots with what has died.

I’m still doing one-on-one counselling sessions on the phone (if you’d like an outline of how this works please email me at and I’m posting regularly on both the Oriah Mountain Dreamer Facebook page at (you do not need an account to see the page.) /The website is

Whether you are enjoying the cycle of new life in the spring of the northern hemisphere or the transition of autumn in the southern, may be you be blessed with the fullness of living- the life you have given and are co-creating with us all. Blessings, Oriah

(This is the Spring 2011 Newsletter. If you would like to receive the newsletter three or four times a year please email Oriah at


  1. Hello Oriah,

    I'm glad you're still writing....and choosing life. My friend has a blog at

    You two seem like kindred spirits and I thought you might like it. :)

  2. I felt for your current challenges, and send you a nicely wry piece by Rumi:

    Who makes these changes?
    I shoot an arrow right.
    It lands left.
    I ride after a deer and find myself
    chased by a hog.
    I plot to get what I want
    and end up in prison.
    I dig pits to trap others
    and fall in.

    I should be suspicious
    of what I want.

  3. Almost ten years ago this summer, I moved to the west coast from Ontario. My daughter gave me The Invitation and told me it had to be the first book I read in my new home...a tiny, humble cottage across the road from the ocean. I read it in one sitting, curled up in my bed. It spoke to the heart and soul of me.
    I had never been without a man in my life. First my father and brother, then boyfriend, then husband and finally a partner who I discovered after eight blissful (or so I thought) years, betrayed my trust. I couldn't imagine life without a man...if only I'd known then what I know now.
    I wrote to you in those early dark days and you wrote back. I read and reread your words on a daily basis and they gave me such hope. Hope that there would be light at the end of the tunnel, hope that my heart would heal.
    Well, it has. I've never felt more open to life. I have wonderful laughter-filled visits with my three adult children, my sister and now two little grandchildren. I have neighbours on both sides that are the salt of the earth. I made my cottage my palette and it's funky, it holds me tight and it's all mine. I work hand in hand with Mother Nature, tending to herbs and harvesting what vegetables the deer leave alone. I walk the beach every day with two rescued Jack Russell terriers, even when the rain is lashing, the waves are roaring and there's not another soul in sight.
    And no, I don't have a man and yet I've never been so content. This cottage and the beach have allowed me to discover who I really am. I might be alone, but never lonely.
    I want to thank you for taking the time all those years ago to write a few simple words on a card that gave me the first stepping stones to finding a new path, one that was right for me in all its glory.
    Hugs, Barb Priestley

  4. Oriah,

    Your post moved me to tears. I don't want you to be alone. Even though I know you are a spiritual person, I think that challenges such as these can make a person feel somewhat remote when the need is greatest. I wish that I, as a stranger, could go to you with open arms and offer you hope; that you could see me in your mind's eye that hope is not removed. It's right here.