One of the simplest and most powerful ways to break out of social constraints and be wilder is to find a genuine yes and a genuine no.
It’s so simple and yet it will break you out of all sorts of compliance and obligation.
There is a reason why, in courtroom dramas, the lawyer always says, “it’s a yes or no question.” There is simplicity to these two words that establish a direction without the spinning of elaborate stories. Saying no when you mean no will bring you to your integrity. Saying yes from deep within, before all the reasons you shouldn’t, will open your life.
When I found a clear no it came with all sorts of side effects. I couldn’t act or try to manipulate situations. I couldn’t pretend to be confused or that I wanted to but couldn’t. Learning to say no made me so much more honest. It put me in touch with myself. Then, ironically, it made me less selfish. The more I learnt to say no, the more energy I had, the more I ended up having to give.
This is the paradox of boundaries.
Finding a true yes, one that arose from deep down, started to open me to the things I really wanted to be involved in. A true yes started to discern more elegantly the places I wanted my attention to go. And where your attention goes, your life goes.
The way of discovery is fluid. The way of knowing is rigid.
The way of discovery invites. The way of knowing tells.
A tracker lives in immediate feedback loops of discovery. Often when tracking fast they will simply walk rapidly on the line of the animal in small zigzagging patterns. A track here: warmer… Nothing here: colder…
They respond to the signs on the earth (or the absence of signs) making quick course adjustments as they move in pursuit of their quarry.
They are learning as they go. Giving themselves the space to try things and work through a process of confirmation and elimination. Often if they lose the track they will amble ahead trying different game paths until they cut onto the track again.
So many people I work with tell me that they are stuck. They tell me that don’t have a signal clue what they want to do. They are often of the mindset that when they KNOW what they want to do then they will begin to make changes. This is the binary mind of culture. A culture obsessed with knowing the answer from the moment a young mind enters a classroom. The culture says you can get it right or wrong. The culture says be perfect or flawed. The culture says success or failure. These are the subtexts that the ideals of modern life present.
Life however is not binary. It asks us to try things, take small chances and allow a vision to emerge out of these experiments. A new identity comes from giving yourself the space to try things. To have no clue and, like a tracker, walk on the trail of the discovery.
There is a tree I know that has been teaching me about the power of presence. It’s an ebony tree with a thick black stem and dark limbs that flex into a thick canopy of evergreen leaves.
In stillness, the tree is uniquely itself. It is elegant. It does not have a five-year plan. The tree does not need to look busy to feel valuable or important. It is not actively doing anything. Yet, the scope of what that tree achieves is quite remarkable.
The tree invites birds to its branches. Recently a giant eagle owl took to roosting in the recesses of it dark shaded branches.
At a certain time of year it fruits and monkeys and baboons gleefully take to its branches.
Nyala can bee seen under the tree eating leaves that have fallen to the earth due to the monkeying around in the branches above.
A monitor lizard is living in a hollowed section of the trunk.
The tree’s presence is formatting the space around it. It’s shaping an infinite scape of occurrence simply by being itself. It’s essence arising out of it’s deep unmoving refusal to be anything but itself.
Let your presence invite everything to be itself around you.
Harmony is everything being uniquely itself, and in that way a part of a greater whole.
The force of life moves a leopard.
I believe presence is the ability to meet life. It is the simple way that the very intelligence of life guides us in every moment.
Leopards live in this deep union with the unified field of intelligence. They don’t move…they are moved.
What I mean is that a leopard does not have a verbal mind. There is not the mental construction “I should get moving”. But rather the moment shapes them from a feeling, from stimuli – maybe an impala crosses their path. Maybe the day cools. Maybe shade beckons. The unfolding of life asks for an action and the leopard is guided into movement by what is being asked. In this way the leopard’s movement is aligned with the entire movement of the universe.
We see this in humans, in great masters. Martial artists and dancers fall often into this place where the dance and the dancer have become one and the same.
Our goal is to remove all mental clutter, insecurity or trauma, to the point where the moment shapes us and simply informs us of what is required of us. This is the empty way of Zen.
This is the way of the leopard.
Trackers are adept at creating psychological states. On the trail of an elusive creature they enter a paradoxical place. They are obsessively determined to find the animal but the desire to find it has not been allowed to become a crippling attachment to outcome. What they commit to in order to generate the outcome is simply the next track, then the next track, then the next.
To me, what it looks like, is the dynamic nature of play. They are relaxed; they allow the moment to evolve. They lose the track and check the trail up ahead the go back to the last track. Lightheartedly enjoying themselves doing something that seems almost impossible, they relentlessly allow the process to unfold.
All transformations begin with a single track and then another. Most profound shifts in our lives come from tiny decisions. There are things we want, the person we believe we can be. Between that person and where we are now are small steps… the next track. Cleaning out your bedside table, an apology, a thank you note. Learning to say no or yes.
Commit to the next small track, then the next, and meet greatness in the play of process.
This is the way of the tracker.