I am not a philosopher. I struggle my way through any philosophical writing, rereading paragraphs and chapters, mostly due to my obsessive nature and need to know, understand, and remember every morsel of what I read. I feel I need to be an expert after reading something, or I should just give up. That said, reading Rudolf Steiner’s work is a huge challenge for me, and I confess I haven’t read too much of his plethora of work.I recently bought Anthroposophy in Everyday Life and have found one part to resonate stsrongly with my life and likely with many other people’s as well. In it, Steiner wrote, “It is only too well known that in our time people complain often of what we can encompass with the much-feared word ‘nervousness’” (p. 30). He continues on to say that this nervousness or fear creates “modern” disease and disguises itself so we treat the disease and not the root cause of nervousness, thus never really curing ourselves.
Michael Lipson wrote in his introduction to this chapter by Steiner on nervousness that “wherever I am active, nervousness cannot appear, for nervousness is made up precisely of the unused potential of the self” (p. 25). These statements together impact me greatly each time I read them. In essence, if we are not doing, then we are allowing ourselves to be inculcated with fear and nervousness, which can harm our physical bodies as well as our soul bodies. Further, if we are not working in harmony with the potential of our destiny, if we choose to keep running from the part of us that truly knows why we chose to incarnate this physical body, we might find ourselves suffering from nervousness.
Think about it for a minute or two. How do you feel after a long walk through the woods on a beautiful fall day, time spent admiring the artwork of nature? Or, after making a dreaded phone call to the insurance company to get the answers you were needing to finally cross that off your “to do” list, do you feel the same sense of accomplishment I do? Maybe you are an artist and can relate to the satisfaction and joy felt when you finish a blog entry, painting, or quilt. Or maybe you are a stay-at-home mother, busy raising a family and can relate to the simple satisfaction of admiring the fruits of your labor in a clean house, at least clean for the moment.
The things we “do” do not always have to be monumental tasks. In fact, I am finding more and more that it is the simple, every day, in-the-moment things I do that give me more joy than the in-the-future, long-anticipated events. As a busy mother who lives as “LifeWaysian” as she can, I feel joyful and accomplished each day, especially in our cold Wisconsin winters, that I get my three little ones dressed in layers and snow gear and happily playing outside.
These simple moments give me more joy since I’m really living in the moment and remind me that I am put here (or I guess I chose to incarnate into this physical body) so that I can do! Not so that I can do nothing. For when I choose that path, which happens sometimes at the end of a long, tiring day–or some mornings when I wake up more tired than I went to bed–I feel fearful and anxious. When I procrastinate or try to avoid doing my “work” here on earth as a human, woman, mother, I feel anxious. A lot of times that’s when old negative thoughts creep in. In a book my husband and I are taking turns reading, The Healing I Took Birth For, the author, Ondrea Levine, writes, “We are born with a buried longing for completion, a yearning to experience our great nature” (p. 117). She says we feel a homesickness for this true nature and that it pre-dates our incarnation into this body.
I feel most “complete,” or least homesick, when I do things that put me in tune with whatever my true nature is. I have often longed for my destiny to call out to me, but that just hasn’t happened. What I am now finding, the more I work on myself and try to live presently, is that our true purpose or destiny is to do our work, to serve others, and to give and be love. And when I find myself not in tune with this purpose, I do feel disconnected, lost, anxious, nervous.
So, my resolution is to do more things each day that help me feel connected with this true nature. I aim to feel less nervous, less homesick, and more connected to my destiny, my family, my community, my world. These are simple things, like stopping what I am doing in the kitchen and answer my children’s repetitive requests to come play with them. Or to really enjoy the long, dark winters here in Wisconsin rather than wish them away for warmer weather. I worked on this yesterday by pulling my trio on a long toboggan in our yard – a great workout for the body and soul! To take the time for myself to go workout or sit down and write or craft. To find a moment to write a note of thanks to my mom and dad for their continual love and support. To stop myself from judging others, and to be gentle on myself for having the judging thought, and then letting it pass. To make time for meditation. To really enjoy each bite of a delicious and rare dinner out with my husband on his birthday, which was yesterday.
Each day, I am going to aim to do something that connects me to my true nature. Some days this will be easy and other days it may take a lot more energy and motivation, but I know the rewards are joy and contentment, even if they are a bit fleeting.
Mara Spiropoulos is the blog coordinator and parent voice for the LifeWays North America blog. She is a recent graduate of the LifeWays training program, resides in Milwaukee, WI, and is a full-time mother to 3 young children. Mara enjoys spending time in nature, reading and researching natural parenting and living, and crafting. She would love to hear from anyone willing to be a guest writer. You can reach her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.