N is for Nowhere to go, Nothing to do

N‘I had the most amazing retreat,’ my housemate dropped her bag in the kitchen. Her eyes sparkled with excitement and her whole being seemed relaxed and somehow transformed. ‘I just got back from “Nowhere to go, Nothing to do” retreat with Fanny and Colin. Fanny and Colin, a couple, ran Movement of Being workshops in Devon.

‘Oh yeah? I know exactly how it feels.’ I was nearing the end of my PhD. My funding was soon to run out. I did not feel home in Azerbaijan anymore, and I wasn’t home yet in England. Stranded between two worlds, I had nowhere to go. Once my PhD was over, I had nothing to do. Getting a job in academia was tough, getting a work permit even tougher. The title of this retreat was a snapshot of my life.

‘You do?’ She moved a chair and sat down at a large dining table. I nodded swallowing my tears back. There was no hope ahead. ‘I must admit, it was an unexpected discovery for me,’ she said pensively.

As often happened in that house with seven housemates, someone came in and interrupted us, life went on and I forgot all about that conversation.

Until… I started working with Fanny and Colin myself. Reading through the list of workshops they offered, I came across “Nowhere to go, Nothing to do”. I nearly skipped reading the blurb. After all, I knew about it. I didn’t need it anymore. I was in a much better space in life: I had a home, beloved, a job, even the country where I was planning to stay for good. I knew exactly where my life was heading and what to do.

But something made me read the blurb anyway. I was in for a big surprise. “Nowhere to go, Nothing to do” wasn’t what I imagined a few years ago. The retreat was… an invitation to stay present. Because, ultimately all we have is the present moment.

All this rat race to get somewhere in life and do all the time is simply an illusion. We won’t be happier when we get a car, a house, a job, a man. All we have is this moment and being fully present here. If we are not happy where we are, that thing we are striving to achieve won’t change our state of being.

I know this firsthand. The day after I passed my PhD viva without a single correction, I felt low and in utter shock. All those years of working my socks off amounted to this ordinary moment?! Somewhere in my mind I constructed an illusion that once I achieved that milestone, I’d finally be happy. Well, I wasn’t. I was lost and deflated, wondering ‘now what’?

So often we chase things and experiences thinking they’d make us feel a certain way. They don’t.

All we have is an invitation to be present now and here. It doesn’t mean we need to lie down and give up. No! It means being clear that joy and happiness are not out there when we achieve blah-blah or get to blah-blah. They are here in each moment.

There is nowhere to go, nothing to do to achieve that.

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