The Art of Staying Still: Everything You Need is Right Here

Elaine Mead
Aug 25 · 4 min read

Image via @mari_fedi on Instagram

“One is reminded, at a level deeper than all words, how making a living and making a life sometimes point in opposite directions.” — Pico Iyer

I love a sense of movement in my life. I’d even go so far as to say I’m slightly addicted to it.

And that doesn’t necessarily have to mean travel (although I am particularly fond of that too). For me, movement just means switching things up. Whether it’s through securing a new job or some extra freelance work, joining a new class, meeting new people, gathering extra accolades and projects I can put my name to. It all equates to movement, in some form.

You might simply see that as a product of our modern, attention poor culture but I have been so inclined since childhood (to demonstrate my age, I didn’t have regular internet access until I started university and mobile phones with internet were not a thing until I was well into my twenties).

Relocation has played a big part in fueling my desire for movement. Starting with moving myself from the sleepy South of England to the equally sleepy North of England, to a small village in the rural countryside, to the coast, and finally the Big Smoke of London. When England became too small I settled for travel through Europe, and finally the largest scale movement of my life, immigrating to Australia.

With each new chapter there comes an inordinate amount of something I’ve long attempted not to acknowledge: hope.

Hope for transformation. For a crack in the seed of growth to emerge and a new iteration of my character to unfurl accordingly. Hope that I can shed the old ways of being and forge the version of me that I know is slumbering in my depths somewhere.

My latest movement has created a crack, but of a different nature.

“We’re always trying to fix things, when maybe all we need to do with them, as with the weather, is sit still and know they’ll always change before long.” — Pico Iyer

I am learning a new lesson. This fuel I keep seeking, this desire for constant renewal, is not really growth or healing.

My pursuit of movement is escapism.

There is a distinct difference between the two. Movement as escapism is usually born out of a need to leave something behind. We attach this to a person or place or experience, but really what we seek to leave is a part of our own character. A version of us that we no longer feel is serving us. With each new place or movement, we hope to shed something and replace it with the authentic self we crave. Through movement, we aim to find a better sense of alignment that for whatever reason, we seem incapable of grasping fully.

Movement can absolutely be the catalyst we need to achieve this. There is a lot to be gained in removing ourselves from our safe environments and challenging our ideas of self with a new place or role or opportunity to flex a different personality muscle. But if you are constantly fixated on movement alone as the healing balm, you will quickly find it fails to aid you in what you seek.

If you move only for the hope of transformation, you will at some point begin to find gaps in the development of an authentic self. Old patterns will creep across your new hemisphere, and before you know it that version you hoped to leave pinned behind will emerge once more.

When this happens you can hit reset, attempt to begin the cycle once more, hope that this next movement will stick.

Or, you can sit with your life.

“Sitting still as a way of falling in love with the world and everything in it.” — Pico Iyer

It is in the sitting that we can begin to find the answers we’ve been desperately seeking.

I can’t offer you any full notions for what this really means or looks like. It is a mountain I am still climbing. I can tell you that journeying to the furthest corner of the world from where you began is an incredible experience. I can tell you that your emotional baggage, even the heaviest ones, do diminish a little along the way. But unless you sit and unpack those suitcases, examine the contents and feel them in your bones, you will continue to drag them with you no matter how far you travel. No amount of posting on social media begging your happiness and alignment with everything in your life will change that.

I can tell you that everything you need to achieve this next phase of your life is sitting within you. And no matter how much movement you fill your life within the pursuit of those perfect ideals — for self, for life, for love — unless you find the courage to accept the darkest parts of what you might be and bring them into alignment with who are, you will never be happy. No matter where you plant your feet in this world.

It is perhaps the hardest journey we will ever have to make as human beings. But it is ultimately the only one that will lead us to where we want to be.

My new chapter is forcing me to accept stillness. To take stock of everything I was, everything I have, and everything I am.

It’s scary. But, ultimately, worth it.

“The romantic, said Nietzsche, is someone who always wants to be elsewhere. The realist is therefore the one who finds his Heaven where he stands.” — Pico Iyer

Elaine Mead

Written by

Freelance Writer + Editor | Creative Living, Emotional Intelligence, Authenticity & Positive Psychology | More words: coffeeandbooks.co

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