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Stepping Off the Sidelines of Life

Living Close In

“Start close in,
don’t take the second step
or the third,
Start with the first thing
Close in,
The step
You don’t want to take.” 
 -David Whyte

The Journal

If I had to boil it down, living “close in” begins with holding an intimate conversation with life, greeting whatever it’s bringing you with a welcoming curiosity. 
Having a conversation. Sounds simple enough, right? 
The thing is that this conversation requires a different kind of language, one most of us are not taught. It’s not the language we use to conduct our daily business. It’s not one that demarcates, analyzes, or solves.
It’s a language of trust, one of the body and heart. It’s a language of what Richard Rohr beautifully describes as a “falling upward.” 
The good news is that this is your native tongue. It's the language you entered this world with. You have just forgotten.

"Close in”- what does that mean to you? What does it look like? 
For me, “close in” is more of a feeling than something I can define. It’s like a magnetic line orienting me back home, as if I was a carrier pigeon returning from my post that's thousands of miles away. 
I have a hunch that living “close in” may be one of the greatest longings that we all share. It’s the feeling we’re trying to find through all our fumbling.
Although it's hard to define, it’s become clear to me what happens when we don’t live “close in”: we dry and crack like the bottom of an old river bed. 
Living “close in” is how you invite the waters back and become a true participant of life. 

How Do You Live Close In?

The First Step to Close In

So how do you begin this conversation?
You begin this conversation by allowing whatever is visiting you a place at the table. Instead of dismissing it, you feel it fully and listen to what it has to say. 
Remember when you’d rummage in some field as a child and bring your foraged artifacts to your parents? No matter whether it was a flower or a piece of soiled trash, you greeted whatever was held in your tiny hands with a curious affection. 
This is the kind of approach I’m talking about. 
It’s much easier said than done, of course- especially as we wear and tear through time. What makes this conversation hard is that often, the feelings that visit are too intense and uncomfortable, whether that's joy or grief. Instead of holding space, we label these feelings as “bad” or “dangerous,” things that must be removed at once.  
So we stop the conversation. We shut off our curiosity. We brace ourselves against being broken by staying on the sidelines of life, hoping to never encounter these visitors again.
Notice how it's not the thought or the act that prevents you from “closing in," but the physical sensation. 
Some examples: 

+ You know that you need to have the hard conversation with someone. But the physical sensations it would bring are too uncomfortable, whether that’s the empty pit in your stomach or the tightening of your chest. So you avoid this conversation and sweep the issues back under the carpet. 
+ You've written a poem that you'd like to share, but it’s never seen the light of day. You know conceptually that the act of sharing is simple. Just a few clicks. But something is stopping you. Is it the thought of rejection or the potential sensations of humiliation rippling through your body?  

If you look at all the things you’ve been avoiding, notice whether the resistance is coming from the thought/act or the physical sensations. How do you cope with the discomfort? Do you distract, deny, or disassociate? 
Learning how to be with these uncomfortable sensations is the first step to living “close in.” While it may feel prickly, those who do are richly rewarded. Like anything important, it's a practice. 

By holding this open conversation, you rise from the bleachers of life and step into its vibrant heart. You go from being half alive to fully alive. 
While it takes tremendous courage, I have not met a single person who would choose to go back from living “close in.” 

What Are You Refusing? 

Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hahn said: "We have a very important appointment with life. If we miss it, this is very serious."
What is stopping you from living “close in?” 

How are you refusing the conversation and missing this very important appointment with life?
These are the questions I leave you with today. 
Cheering you on,
PS: If you’d like a guided communal journey into this “close in” life, check out my Unravel program. It is the shortest, most systematic, and playful path to the life that makes you feel most alive- proven by people of all walks of life around the world.

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