Ancora imparo / Yet, I am learning

Birdsinthesky

Dear Keatsway,

Thank-you so much for your letter of advice. It was timely, appropriate, and most of all it made me think deeply about my perception of time and the progress I am making. Inspired in part by your letter, I have embraced a new mantra, ancora imparo, Latin for yet, I am learning.

The Urban Dictionary captures it’s spirit perfectly:

A reminder that mistakes are a learning curve, that every first, second, third….time provides opportunity for improvement, that you are always ancora imparo.

Ancora imparo frees me from the crushing sadness and shame of failing yet again, replacing it with the realization that I learned something new this time around, and that however small it may feel, it’s progress. And in the absence of required perfection, mistakes allow us to grow.

And now for a short but true story to put this mantra and last paragraph in context. Recently, Keatsway I decided to embark into the dating world again. I had never deliberately decided to leave it, but opportunity struck and thus I became an active member again. I went on a variety of creative dates with someone I will only call L: from climbing the monkey bars at a playground to climbing a ladder to a rooftop at night to watch the city skyline to playing the demo of a video game in it’s very early stages, it was an exciting few weeks. However the very act of dating brought up a lot of past hurt and fears. Fear of love, fear of betrayal, fear of rejection, fear of being hurt again. Sometimes these feelings came on so strongly that I couldn’t fully process what was happening in the present. Every step of the way I second guessed myself, my feelings, the guy, and whether I would hear from him again, fearful that I was about to be dropped at any second. This prevented me in the end from being fully present.  Now, thanks to the maddeningly socially acceptable 21st century tradition of never returning a text or an email, as far as I know what never truly was is now behind me.  Therefore today I need something new to embrace, to keep me moving forward. So I have decided to embrace ancora imparo, yet, I am learning. And I am. Learning to let go, let it be, and be fully here now.

A fortnight ago, I felt encouraged by the heartbreaking, life affirming film, Now is GoodIn the film’s last few lines, 17-year-old cancer patient Tessa says perhaps the wisest words I’ve ever heard about embracing the present, and letting go:

Our life is a series of moments. 
Let them all go. 
Moments. 
All gathering
towards this one.

–Jenny Downham & Ol Parker (screenwriters), Now is Good

To be fully here now, I have to let go of what was and what will be, freeing myself to transform through the reality of constant change, letting go and breaking forth, the life cycle of death and rebirth. Someday soon I will not let these fears control me or thwart new possibilities. I will let them go, learning to trust myself and the process. I will lose my fear of failure, rejection, and vulnerability; no longer holding back and protecting myself so much that I cannot truly give. But until then, all I can do is repeat ancora imparo, yet, I am learning. The ground is tilled, a new bud is opening, and I can’t wait to see where this new knowledge will take me.

With love,

xo Brightstar

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How to Move

Dear Brightstar,

I’ve reached Geneva, my new home for the subsequent months as I take up an internship here.

Two weeks ago I thought I would be prepared to suitably begin a life here with ease. I have traveled farther and to more difficult places than Europe, surely Geneva would be least problematic

The universe however, persists in seeking  balance.  I have found myself  subject to far greater culture shock here then any past travel in Asia, Africa or South America. A combination of jet lag, adjustment to city life and a fondness for home, hearth and the friends I left is making this adjustment  difficult.

It will take longer then expected to adjust and meet the pace of this city but I am still grateful that the issues that do come up are easily solved with  time and patience.

So even with this less then energetic start to my new life, I feel I can offer some lessons garnered from this transition.

My formula for keeping moving (whether to a new life or to keep your life in-motion) are:

Patience. Self-compassion. Flexibility.  Luck (take the chances given and keep a eye out for chance itself).

This advice holds the keys to all transitions. They are absolutely necessary and yet the most difficult to achieve in times of struggle and change. I recommend them to you my dear friend Brightstar as you deal with your Holy Tussle.

With the tools we are given we must try and change our worlds one patient, self-compassionate step at a time.

With good wishes and sincere love,

Keatsway

Chasing starlight

Perseid_Meteor

Dear Keatsway,

I can’t think of a better metaphor than navigating by starlight for describing how we move forward towards the future.

In August, I attended a faculty symposium to create ____ College’s 5 year plan. I remember leaving the meeting strongly impressed by this phrase:

There is no such thing as the future…there are only the futures, the alternative futures.
–Alex McManus, WordPress blogger

That statement continues to make the future less daunting. It grants an incredible freedom. You are the determining factor in your future. You get to choose which future you want to live. It’s not static and determined. It’s open and moveable. It could change at any moment.  It’s not a product of chance or fate; it’s an opportunity.

Two things immediately came to mind as I read your post. I couldn’t believe how much your last lines echoed Galadriel’s blessing to Frodo:

I give you the light of Eärendil, our most beloved star. May it be a light for you in dark places, when all other lights go out.

Galadriel presents Frodo with a type of solid starlight as he paddles away in his elf-made canoe from the safety of Lothlorien towards an uncertain future. A future that he hopes includes passing though Mordor to defeat the ring. Yet at that moment he still did not know the way, the method, or the outcome. He was plagued by self-doubt and had a task far larger than he was capable of accomplishing alone. Even with a fellowship of 12, a mountain had to be climbed, a dragon defeated, orcs and dark riders had to be outrun. Many of his companions perished or betrayed him, and at any moment he knew he could die and fail in his task. Yet something like starlight and hope compelled him onward.

Rilke writes in Letters to a Young Poet advice that well complements Galadriel’s:

Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.

Love the questions. Live the uncertainty. Embrace the ricochet. It is an integral part of the journey of learning to navigate by starlight, become less afraid of the dark, and marvel like Van Gogh at the beauty of the stars.

Yours hopefully,

xo Brightstar