The first time I side stepped I was 9 years old in the top of a treehouse that was so high up I could see much of the streets surrounding us, or at least over the fence. I was drowning out the cries coming from inside an angry house and as princess of my dominion in the tree watched the world and imagined beautiful ladies in far away places singing songs of princes, and story writing (weird combo) I forgot how to for a while after that. Without even meaning to.
Fast forward 30 years and…
The world is a zenith. Because we dominate the physicality of it within the stretch of our own intelligence we think we have all of the answers to everything. What if we only know .5 of a percent of the entire equation? What if we are at kindergarten level of knowledge and any more can’t even be fully conceptualised by our brains?
What if all that is required is being a species called human, then when the correct space appears with our name on it or we get that inkling within – our job is to summon all we are and can be with every ounce of strength, passion, dedication and courage to create an action. An action that vibrates with such ferocity that it ripples across the universe. Be that the action of Mother, Father, the creative, the entrepreneur, the waste collector, the cleaner, the king, the inventor, the builder, the vet, the nurse, the truck driver or the monk. You get the idea. But then what happens if you are too busy to feel the inkling? What if because you are jamming elements like feelings or emotions down like compacted earth in a garden bed, the inkling can’t bubble up?
No wonder I have a bloody aneurysm.
You see the mind gymnastics it gets up to when I have 10 minutes to myself to ponder? Especially right at this moment. At this very moment as I write this I am in an Ashram, which always gets the mind gymnastics going. An hour and a half from my home, where an entire community of Yoginis live authentically the Hindu life, wrapped in the cocoon of the Wombat State forrest. In their spare time they feed the hungry, nurture the lost and travel to India to learn more altruism, more philosophy and more ways to assist humanity. So I sit here in the company of a dear childhood friend who has journeyed here with me. We sit in utter silence, she is reading unbeknown that I am here doing a triple twist bystandting twirl with my frontal lobe.
We can hear nature, which when its all by itself, can be a bit noisy. Nice noisy though. Frogs, birds night crying and the super moon. Ah ha. The Supermoon; that’s not helping one bit. I can feel a double tumble coming on…
Which brings me to side stepping.
Before Fred, before death’s knocked on my door with a loud bang ( i never promised i wouldn’t be dramatic ok- don’t forget the supermoon) Somehow on that journey I learned the art of side stepping.
I travelled, I went away sometimes on holidays, I escaped into a good book, a good movie or conversation, a moment. But I had never truly side stepped. The practise of sidestepping originally came about as good old fashioned escapism, but then became more. I realised that if I side stepped by choice rather than necessity, the perspective of appreciation for what I already have was kept in tact and valued, appreciated even more. The strangest thing then happened; inklings and ponderings emerged slowly then at dynamite speed. Realisations and epiphanies popped into my lap like gifts wrapped in silvery dew.
So what is it? This side stepping nonsense some of you might ask. Or some of you might be nodding with a knowing smile and recognition.
It is when you open a little door for brief moments that allow you to observe your surroundings in a different way. A different location, or maybe a different mind set. You might travel. You might stop everything to build a tent in the back yard and be completely present with your 2 year old. But it needs to be different. Different breeds separation from the normal, it stirs the pot, disrupts the sediment from the bottom of the wine bottle. But most of all; it breeds contemplation and perspective. You do it before you have to do it.
I have been so incredibly fortunate this year to have journeyed to far away lands as guests of some large companies. Once such trip; Lothario and I sat drinking a beer on a very balmy night outside a small bar in a small village in the Alsace region, called Riquewhir. I had spent the afternoon writing stories in a ridiculously cute courtyard in the steamy french afternoon, so the bar and beer was welcomed.
It was here that we chatted and from an open window above us a voice from a nameless lady drifted out, a song was being sung that was both lilting and magical , it reminded me of the spectacular alien goddess from the movie Fifth Element. She was singing an Operatta. Like a princess. Then from over the road an elderly saxophone player had set up, the two began a serenade. He played in with her, then she changed her song to match in. The two of them harmonised by ear across a street, the sound lingered above us like a decadent fog. Without even looking at each other. I had tears rolling down my cheeks. It was real. This was really happening. This was my reality in this moment. But it was more intense as I was outside my normal. My every day had been altered, I had sidestepped. I remembered. I was no longer in a treehouse, I was a grown up writing stories for a living, listening to a lady sing in a faraway land.
Even now as I type that particular memory, adventures start rumbling around ready to go.
Or more presently, only an hour from my house I just sat on a wooden bench in the middle of the forrest in an Ashram and giggled like a kid with one of my best friends since childhood. We are trying to stifle the giggle because we are on silence tonight, or Mouna. Not much of that going on. But again, this is outside our every day and both of us have had this time to sidestep, appreciate, analyse, get perspective and just be in a different way.
I spoke with one lady here who spent the second day in the garden crying. She said she had not cried for years and had no idea why she was crying, just all of a sudden they were pouring down her face and afterwards she felt lighter. She had sidestepped, just enough to rattle the old emotions up from their deep bed and let them out. Cleansing too.
Children sidestep beautifully, cubby houses, faraway lands in the trees or under the couch…loop holes into a different moment, removed from the now and into a temporary ether.
Then somehow we are ere in our grown up place and we tend to forget how to, or we mesmerise ourselves with hypnotic chants of “you cant afford it. You cant just leave. Don’t be silly. Get real. Immature. Grow up” you get the idea.
I find it particularly good if you have a problem you cannot solve. Its like when you cant think of a movie name, if you let it go it pops up.
Maybe if we were living truly to the format species of human instead of demigods smashing the earth with ego we might remember ourselves long enough to think about side stepping. So many other humans do it outside of the westernised crazy. Supermoon rambling again I know. But it is true. In so many tribes women have huts that are seperate from the rest of the village where women go to ‘be’, They are away from their normal chores or living duties, for a time. Men have walkabout and time together, time alone. I am reading a book here where it talks about Ancient Indian traditions where it was necessary for every woman and man at different stages of the year to have separateness from the rest of the everyday living, just for a short time. It was a healthy and well practised tradition that served many purposes.
Blue eyes does it when he goes fishing, problem is he doesn’t go fishing nearly as much as he could. My daughter sidesteps magnificently when playing piano, you can see it in her eyes. My sons both sidestep when drawing or creating. Unfortunately one is forgetting, I must remind him…
Please don’t be like me and wait for the worst case scenario to happen before you realise it’s not a luxury, it is actually a necessity. Because no matter what your space is you have to step into it, you need to create your ripple you set out to start. Don’t wait for an epic interruption to start enjoying the maximum moments available to you. There is richness for the taking and a sense of fulfilment that comes with it. A thunderclap is ready to ride. It’s like grace, you can’t see but when that stuff rumbles you feel it in your bones and it can shake a window.
Many Blessings x