The moment of surrender is not when life is over, it’s when it begins. 
– Marianne Williamson


I’m standing on a rock platform, surrounded by hill after hill of rocks.  There are no distinguishing features.  The landscape is so vast and surreal I could be standing on the moon.  A deluge of monsoonal rain has transformed the land around me into a multitude of streams in every direction.  I have my backpack on my back, compass in my hand, and I’m completely lost.  

Around five hours prior I’d urged the friend I was walking with to power on, allowing me to stroll at my own, more relaxed pace.  We’d organised to meet up at a creek on the map some distance ahead.  The national park is about to close for the wet season and our car is two days walk away.

Arriving at the creek my friend is nowhere to be seen.  The creek runs through a rocky gorge and I wander down the gorge to find her.  Hot from my walk and discovering a perfect swimming hole I strip off for a dip.  This is paradise.  Refreshed I get dressed, load my backpack on my back and scramble up the side of the gorge for a better view.  Still no sign I move to another spot for a different perspective.  Next thing I know, I’ve lost the creek.  Compass in hand I scout around, only to become more and more lost.  Now I’m not looking for my friend, I’m simply searching for the creek.  At some point I find a tiny stream but it’s too small to be the creek.  Soon I’ve lost that too.

Freedom to explore

Being lost and exploring is something I’ve seemed drawn to this lifetime.  Many of my peak moments have involved landing in foreign places and wandering aimlessly, enjoying the state of heightened awareness and the spirit of wonder and discovery.  So it was a while before I started to feel any concern.  I wandered up, down and around the rocky landscape for what seemed like hours, searching for the creek, my eyes constantly on my compass.  

As the sun started to move towards the horizon my search became more frantic.  It was now late afternoon and I was no closer to finding my way.  The storm arrived, monsoon style, bringing torrents of rain.  With dismay I watched the dry landscape transform into a tapestry of creeks in every direction.  It was stunning and awe-inspiring.  It was also terrifying.  My only guide, the elusive creek, had effectively disappeared.  And time was running out.  I had the food.  My friend had the tent.  And I had no idea where I was. 

Divine guidance

As I stood on that rock platform, daylight fading, I had to do something.  I looked at my compass, feeling into the totality of my movements since leaving the creek.  I decided, on balance, that I’d been moving north-west.  I set my compass for south-east and made a beeline.  If there was a rock I climbed over it, if there was a ledge, I jumped.  The sun was fading fast and I was charging forward.  

Suddenly, I landed at the creek.  I looked down and saw a bandaid I’d removed for my swim.  I had landed at the exact spot where I first left the path.  I started running upstream, calling out to my friend.  Then I heard her calling out to me.  She’d been calling out all afternoon.  We were reunited and, the next moment, it was pitch black dark.

How you do anything is how you do everything.

That experience seems to reflect my life.  Aimless wandering for the joy of discovery, doing course after course and job after job has been the pattern of my life.  Not feeling a sense of pressure or urgency until the last minute.  Trusting that I’ll be okay with moments of panic and desperation thrown in.  And a wilful desire to do things at my own pace and in my own way.

True north

As we journey through life, our feelings are our guidance system and joy is our true north.  But our internal compass is often tampered with in the process of socialisation.  What brings us joy doesn’t alway align with the needs or desires of our family or society.  Our need to survive and belong often requires us to abandon our own needs and preferences and to take on those of our society or caregivers.  In this way we get disconnected from our internal motivation and become driven by external motivators.  

When our feelings aren’t understood, valued or appreciated by our caregivers, we learn not to trust them.  Instead we allow outside forces to guide our life and we ‘lose ourself’.  

For me, disconnected from my feelings and also refusing to conform with society, led to me spending a lot of my life feeling lost and alone.  It was the price I paid for freedom.  I mistook freedom for joy.  But it was a freedom born of disconnection and sadness.  

With the sun moving across the sky of my lifetime, the pressure to find my way and to feel connected has intensified and I’ve been exploring ways to recalibrate my compass.  

Love thyself

Since feelings are our compass, an important part of aligning with our sense of direction and purpose is connecting with our feelings and desires.  To do this we need to learn to love ourselves.  

I’m reading a book by Teal Swan called ‘Shadows Before Dawn – finding the light of self-love through your darkest times’.   This book shares the author’s journey from self-hate to self-love, as well as a ’tool-kit to self love’.

What would someone who loves themselves do?

The first tool for self love is this: 
Every time you need to make a decision, ask yourself – 
What would someone who loves themselves do?

The book suggests you commit to doing this for 365 days.  I’ve committed.  Do you want to join me?

My gift

As I lay in bed this morning, breathing into the deep sadness I’ve been feeling, I remembered.  Cloudscape was my vision, designed as a tool for finding my way, speaking up, and connecting with others.  It is my antidote to feeling lost and alone.  And it is my gift to the world as both a symbol and a tool  for hope and connection.  My compass is set.  

With love,

What would someone who loves themselves do?
Ask yourself this every time you need to make a decision.  You’re worth it!