The Space in the Middle of Nowhere

I recently moved to a corner of the world that could arguably be described as the middle of nowhere. From here, a trip to nearly anywhere involves an audiobook and a baggie of snacks.

It was four years ago that I shoved off from Atlanta with not much more than a nod of my head, and traipsed my way up the Eastern seaboard. I stopped for a year in Richmond, then spent a few years in Washington DC, and now here I am, in Western New York. Trader Joe’s has gone from being a five-minute hop away to being an hour-and-a-half trek up the road.

If I pause long enough to add a little space to my new surroundings, I can just as easily find myself now here.

But I notice that if I pause long enough to add a little space to my new surroundings, I can just as easily find myself now here. Like Mary Poppins, I can instantly pop myself into the present moment in which it matters little where I’ve actually landed. Being now here—or more naturally, here now—is quite calm. There’s seemingly more air and way less striving.

But finding myself in such a state of contentment has been hard won.

For one thing, arriving into the present moment has involved a series of letting-go moves that have been nothing short of spiritual gymnastics. Indeed, it takes a coordinated effort for the ego to tune into guidance and follow it, while maintaining the flexibility to bend and yet stay relaxed in the face of deep uncertainty. There’ve been few if any straight lines along the way.

This journey has also entailed having enough spiritual muscle to remain still in times of anxious wobbliness, so as not to wiggle myself out of a precarious state of balance. For it’s one thing to hold a pose and quite another to truly stick the landing. This is a tricky place, this nowhere place, that asks the ego to keep making an effort while at the same time listening for inner wisdom and then, when directions become clear, letting go of control and trusting the process.

More often, our egos like to find a good rut and start decorating.

For the ego’s natural tendency is to cling. It seems our factory-installed egos want the security of the known; the ego is out of its element hanging breezily in the here and now, in not knowing. More often, our egos like to find a good rut and start decorating.

This means that on the way to getting nowhere—which is actually the present moment of now here—my ego has felt lost. Because I’ve been covering new ground nearly every day. The good news is that in such a disoriented state, the best way forward has been to keep paying out the rope my ego is holding onto, in an effort to give the universe more room to work.

This letting-go maneuver has been wonderfully humbling and has helped make me oh-so-teachable. I’ve learned that giving over the reins of my life has strengthened my connection with something greater I can’t easily name, but can readily trust. And so I keep putting more of my life into the very good hands of this Great Unknown. As I do, I keep arriving more and more fully into the present moment where I find myself feeling more genuinely safe, more gently held, and more aware that there is nowhere I’d rather be.

—Jill Loree

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