We withdraw not to disappear, but to find another ground from which to see; a solid ground from which to step, and from which to speak again, in a different way, a clear, rested, embodied voice, our life as a sudden, emphatic statement, one we can recognize as our own and one from which now, we have absolutely no wish to withdraw.
David Whyte (November 02, 1955 -)
(Side Note: Each department at Esalen is required to meet with a trained Gestalt therapist weekly. It is part of the contractural agreement one signs when becoming a member of the Esalen Institute. These meetings are designed to work out departmental, interdepartmental, personal and interpersonal issues before they can fester. I found the meetings very useful but objected to their mandatory-ness. It personally felt invasive of the individual freedom I sought. Looking back now, I realize how much I grew and learned about personal interactions as a result of those meetings. I remember how much grief and pain I worked out and the love and support I received from my tribe.)
During a sleepless night following a very intense group meeting, I started to review how I describe myself to others. The light bulb went off in my head. I realized my former points of reference were no longer valid in my present situation. Change is a constant in my life but since arriving at Esalen the process has speeded up considerably. Everyone speaks of the magic of this place which I believe is true, but it is also the magic spark, no matter how small or developed, in everyone who makes a commitment to come here to self-examine their own life.
The other day one of my classmates asked me what did I do, meaning my employment. I started with my typical speech about being a former this and a former that when I realized the important word here was *former*. Wait! Why am defining myself in terms of what I did when what I did has little connection with who I am at this moment in time? In times past I did things, I learned skills which contributed to the manner I live my life today. They do not however define who I am today. The only truth about who I am and what I do today is that I am a work scholar at Esalen. I eat, sleep, and love all in the present moment. Only my connections with friends carry over across the borders of different realms. There has always been a flow of people in my life, names and faces I no longer remember, but only a few individuals have remained a constant over long periods of time.
In this moment my only points of reference are Esalen and a few close friends. I am a gestalt, an organized whole perceived as more than the sum of my parts. My old worlds are dissolving very quickly. I am no longer holding onto my past. My new worlds are slowly forming and are mine to create. I am happy.
So! What do I wish to bring into this new life, this new world? What parts of my being am I content with and what parts do I let go and leave behind? The word *intent* comes to mind regarding life purpose and meaning. I am fifty years old and I still do not know what I want to *be* when I grow up. I am moving in uncharted territory like an explorer. I am more confident with myself and with being in the world. I want to help this movement along but I do not know what to do. If anything at all. It is not like saying I want to be a doctor. Then perusing that goal through education and training. In my case I do not know what the goal *is.* I have a blank canvas in front of me and I do not know what to fill it with, let alone what medium to use.
I am here. Now! Esalen is my home and my *intent.* This is an opportunity to paint my world all the colors I choose.
Buddha Pond A Esalen