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Looking Back at the Horizon Line

“Before enlightenment; chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment; chop wood, carry water.” — Zen Kōan

Have you ever looked up and realized that where you are now is where you once wished you might be? It’s a powerful moment, that. I find the time it takes to manifest what we’d like can vary in delivery time. Yet when our desire comes to fruition, in that moment we can see that where we are now is where we once wished to be, a lot comes into perspective for us. Reflections at this point in time can bring with them much gratitude and appreciation for how things played out and what is here for us now. Perhaps even an appreciation for who we are now. 

As we let that moment percolate and let our nervous systems integrate it all, it comes clear that we have grown, too. What parts of us have taken root, or bloomed? How have our perspectives, priorities, and values changed along the way? What do we see clearly now? What old desires might not fit anymore? What would we like now, from this place? 

In this podcast conversation with Chris Remus, Founder of Chainflow, he finds himself in a similar moment. It’s one in which he says that when his previous self thought about being in a similar situation as he is now, that self would have thought he was ‘done.’ Having arrived here, with a company doing well, Chris finds himself reconsidering what being ‘done’ means to him now. 

So often, we seem to put things off for a future time. We think: “Oh, when that happens, then I’ll do this.” When you arrive at the place you’ve longed for, how do you want to keep going from this place? What’s here for you now at this juncture? 

  • What is your relationship to your current work? What would ‘done’ look like for you? When would you know you were ‘done’? (What does success look like to you?)  
  • How are you, here, in this moment that you’re in? What part of you wants to be someplace else? 
  • Who was the version of you who once wanted where you are now? What was that version of you most concerned about? What have you learned about yourself and about the world since then? What is the current version of you most concerned about? 
  • As you look around you, here and now, what do you see that you would want to change? What would be different if things changed like that? How would things feel different? 
  • As you look around you, here and now, what is here for you to enjoy, that you deserve? What is there here to be grateful for? What is there here to celebrate? 
  • Where do you find purpose? What do you love? 
  • How would you like to keep going? 

Sometimes, too, at junctures like this, we have to look behind us to see what got us here and what might be holding us back.

Each generation seems to me to start out a little bit ahead of where the previous generation landed. Not just in time, but in ways of thinking and our maps of the world and our sense of our place in it. In many ways, the fresh new generations reap the growth and experience rewards that those who came before them had to grow through. What we’re born from and born into affects our imaginations–what we feel is possible and even our sense of self in relation to it all. We get the landing pad that offers us, as well as the ways of thinking and being that we are bound to outgrow as we set forth into the world on our own.

As a new generation, we know more and have more surface area around the edges of curiosity as if all of the previous generation’s growth and experiences are the ground upon which we get to stand, as our starting place, to support us in our being here now on the planet at this time. We bring that with us–the whole of it–as we move through our own experiences and our own growth spurts. Over time and terrain, we get to decide how we feel about the ground we landed on: where our family’s beliefs and ways limit us, where what once supported us no longer hold us, and where we stand now, complete unto ourselves. That is a place that we realize as ours based on where we’ve been, what we’ve learned, what we now know about ourselves and the world, and what has our heart and curiosity. 

Hopefully, that’s a place carved out for us able to become more wholly ourselves. Along the way, we get to uncover the many facets of ourselves: what is my heart’s desire? What might I be carrying as a legacy project from my family, that is not mine to carry? What is my upper limit of happiness and how might I want to expand that? How can I begin to see that everything is waiting for me to stop waiting for my life? 

As David Whyte writes in a poem with a similar name: “You must note | the way the soap dish enables you, | or the window latch grants you freedom.”

No matter what junctures we arrive at and pass through, the road is paved by the magic of the ordinary. As Jerry and Chris discover in their conversation, our through-line moment to moment, juncture to juncture, is a thread of purpose and love. Is that work that’s ever done?


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