Anticipation, Intention, Reflection: A Journey with Purpose

Sent September 29, 2014

(This BLOG will bring pictures and stories, not philosophy, and yet this thinking through the purpose of our travel was necessary for me as I prepared for the journey. If you are interested, I share it with you.)

My husband, Jim, and I plan a journey that will begin September 24, 2014 with travel to Ethiopia and meetings with Weub Eshetu. It will include Uganda and meetings with Betty Kagoro as well as Safari to meet the Gorillas and Chimpanzees ( we hope.) And will conclude in Burkina Faso and meetings with Claudine Zongo, returning to Seattle on November 5. Each of these three women participated as Country Conveners in the project, Developing Women’s Leadership ~ Around the Globe. http://www.womenleadingtheway.com/womens-leadership-project.html

As Jim and I moved from creating a basic itinerary and purchasing airline tickets, to the next level of detail – Visas, immunizations, lodging – looking ahead to the amazing journey we were planning, a new level of awareness emerged.

The email conversations with Weub, Betty, and Claudine awakened vivid memories of each of these women as we looked together at how my visit might both support their ongoing work and strengthen the network of relationships we had created through our project, Developing Women’s Leadership ~ Around the Globe. http://developingwomensleadership.com

And, anticipation became a tangible companion. It’s a funny thing – anticipation. It takes me into the future, engages my imagination, arouses emotion. The excitement builds. And some anxiety as well. The admonition to “Be here, now.” keeps bubbling up in my awareness. I recognize a familiar trap. I can become so enamored of my anticipation, my expectations, that I become blind to the assumptions out of which they arise. I set myself up for disappointment, and judgment because the journey will emerge, in ways I can never anticipate. I remember Mark Twain’s comments about travel:

“The tourist is one who sees what she expects to see.”
“The traveler is one who sees what is there.”

So, how to think about “anticipation”?

As I wait – the notion of intention - surfaces in my awareness. Intention – the lazer goal, the fundamental essence, the purpose. Intention brings its own journey into imagination – but with a difference. Imagination here arises out of the deepest part of me, out of that place where “Why am I here?” resides.

Intention manifests! Wow – if I believe that, I’d best be clear about what my intention really is. Not the dreams, the wishes, the trimmings, but the essence.

Buddhist teacher, Madi Nolan, describes how she has eliminated the concept of “how” from her dictionaries, and her thinking. It is not our work to determine how something will happen; our job is to determine the “what”. In other words, my job is to align with my purpose.

The “how” may involve unimaginable processes and events of which we cannot even conceive. Concern over “how” a goal might be achieved has halted many an aspiration.

So what is my “what?”

  • Is it to have an exciting adventure with Jim?
  • to see new places?
  • to engage with new cultures?

Yes, these are all desired, and, that is not the intention.

The intention of the journey for me is to contribute to our world an energy and wisdom that seems most needed at this time in our collective experience – the untapped resource of feminine energy and feminine leadership. Frank Buchner described the key to the choice of our work in the world: identifying that place where our deep gladness intersects with the world’s great need.

The other intention that rings with clarity with me is to deepen my relationships with the three women whom I have come to know and to love Claudine, Weub and Betty.

Engaging with my intention grounds me, lessens anxiety, brings anticipation, and confidence, centered in openness. I am clear now. My job is to be clear about my intention and open to what is wanting to happen.

If Intention manifests . . . . . . so what? Now my job is to notice and to integrate, which means – reflection.

Reflection – to me is absolutely NOT an intellectual analytical process. It is, instead, wholistic, more a process of letting go of the rational mind and allowing the subconscious full participation.

Anthropologist Angeles Arrien loved to challenge those with whom she worked by acknowledging their “business,” their need to multi-task, the pace and intensity of their lives – by affirming that “We can accomplish much in the fast line!”

AND, she insisted, “There are two things we cannot do in the fast lane:”

  • We cannot deepen our experience.
  • We cannot integrate our experience.

In other words, she challenged us to recognize that without time outside the fast lane, we could not really learn from our experience. Instead, we swirl in the stew of the bits and bytes of our reality. We do not see the connections. We do not recognize the interdependencies of events. We cannot anticipate the consequences of action, or thought, that happens here and now on the far away or long term events. We do not see our impact. We are not aware really, of what impacts us.

The task of embracing reflection is to find time for it. Time to wonder . . . . . .

What happened? What thoughts did it prompt? What emotions did it evoke? What surprised me about it? How did it challenge me? Inspire me? What meaning do I make of it? What action does it prompt for me? How does it impact me?

We cannot control ourselves into reflective insight. We can only make space in our minds and our hearts for stillness, or quiet. We can only embrace the questions rather than search frantically for answers.

So where does all of this leave me, as we begin this journey? Well, significantly less stressed by the details, though I know they are important. It leaves me more secure, in a way, as I recognize that the intention that seems clear to me will manifest in ways that I cannot anticipate. It brings humility as I acknowledge that even in my grandest anticipation, I cannot imagine the power and the elegance of what may emerge. It leave me more open to” what wants to happen.”

Again – this BLOG will bring pictures and stories, not philosophy, and yet the philosophy was necessary for me as I prepared for the journey.

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2 Responses to Anticipation, Intention, Reflection: A Journey with Purpose

  1. Jane Lewis says:

    Thank you for this Barb. I’m soaking up each word.

  2. Gia de Girolamo says:

    I am so familiar with the concepts you write about; I know them experientially, yet your elegance of thought and crystal clear articulation deepens my awareness of their power and moves me greatly.

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