I was ready for some spaciousness…or so I thought.
Our long-awaited trip to the tranquil island of Folegandros, Greece, finally had arrived. This would be easy. A quick (and inexpensive) Volotea flight from Venice to Santorini, and then an hour by fast boat to Folegandros. We’d arrive, unplug, and fall into complete bliss while staring out into the vast expanse of the Aegean.
Yep, I had it all planned out. And then, like a drug addict who couldn’t really own up to his addictions, I was hit with the pain of withdrawal from constant doing and thinking. Talk about feeling slapped sideways.
A valuable wake-up call.
Consequently, during our first full day in this glorious island paradise, I was about to jump out of my skin. My personal throttle was stuck in high gear. And my mind was tackling a mess of thoughts at a velocity and ferocity that would leave Pac Man in the dust.
And then it hit me…I’d been filling up my life and distracting myself with constant busyness. When it came time to sit still, I didn’t know how. Well, not at the level being offered to me on this breathtaking island.
“Wherever You Go, There You Are.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
Crap, I was busted. What was I to do? Jump into planning or doing something to distract myself? Run from being still and avoid inviting the uncertainty of spaciousness into my life?
Then I remembered something I’d recently read about not running from our discomfort and instead becoming curious about it, all while letting the “negative” feelings have some room to run their course. Okay, I can try this, I thought. And my dear mother’s words also reminded me, This too shall pass.
So I stayed with it. Or, to be more accurate, I rode it like a bucking bronco until the energy was spent. Allowing this to be without trying to fix it was NOT in my wheelhouse of abilities. My lifeline was returning my attention to the magnificent spaciousness of the cliffs and the sea around me. And then, gradually, I felt myself downshifting and relaxing. It took a full twenty-four hours but finally, spaciousness began to expand inside.
When we allow spaciousness in our lives, things happen.
Think about it, if we have so completely filled our lives to the brim with “stuff”, whether it’s unfettered accumulation of material things and experiences, or a controlling mind that fuels itself with even more thinking, there’s no room left for something new and unexpected to show up. How can magic happen?
I realize now I’ve given a lot of lip-service to the importance of spaciousness. Thank goodness this vacation helped me see just how little spaciousness I was allowing, and how uncomfortable I can be with not knowing all the answers.
“Nature abhors a vacuum.” – Aristotle
I love this quote. To me, it suggests that the universe is always waiting to assist when we are willing to get out of the way, and when we’re not in hyper-vigilant accumulation or distraction mode. In other words, make room for possibility.
In this post, I share with you a few images from my trip to Folegandros. I hope you’ll find them a worthy companion to these words. In my art and photography, I am drawn more and more to negative space, as the above image demonstrates. In an odd sort of way, it’s a bit of a self-portrait.
Maybe my art is pointing the way and telling me to relax into a life where everything isn’t neatly filled-in and managed. The big question, however, is can I live in the now without needing to pull the past or future into focus?
We returned to Italy from seven spectacular days in Greece. I wanted to freeze-frame our time there and to bring it back with me. But I realize that was just an attempt to fill myself by clinging to a beautiful experience, instead of holding it lightly and being thankful. By looking over my shoulder longingly to this experience, maybe I was robbing myself of the possibilities of the present moment.
Travel lightly and relax into “what is”.
This is my prayer––that life will teach me, more and more, to let go and invite spaciousness into my life. Whenever I feel hard or constricted, I know I’m closing down and shutting myself off from the potential that awaits in the fertile soil of the vast unknown. I also know solutions to problems present themselves more readily when I surrender and allow room for answers to come. This includes making space for uncomfortable feelings to run their course. Otherwise they have the potential to stay locked up inside.
In closing, I share with you the following quote:
“Non-attachment is not the elimination of desire. It is the spaciousness to allow any quality of mind, any thought or feeling, to arise without closing around it, without eliminating the pure witness of being. It is an active receptivity to life.” -Stephen Levine
If I’ve whetted your appetite, through these images, to visit Folegandros, I heartily encourage you to check out the best spot on the entire island––Anemomilos Apartments. You won’t find better views and you will be treated royally!