Yesterday, I came across the term shunpiking; “it is an old Yankee term that means avoiding the main roads…the “turnpikes”, the ones with route numbers and yellow lines down the middle.” Patricia Turner wrote about it in her blog post The Gentle Art of Shunpiking.
As I was thinking, ‘wow – I’m a shunpiker, who knew?’ I went on to read that there is a Taoist practice of Wu Wei that basically involves going where the spirit moves you. This is something I’ve always yearned to do – to get in the car and just drive, letting my Intuition lead the way to places I otherwise would never find on my on.
I took this as a sign. For me, 2016 is the year to reconnect with my Inner Guidance, to show more respect to my intuition and to dare to Trust. I’ve also committed to act on Inspiration when it emerges – so, yesterday was Shunpiking Saturday. (While Winter wears Beauty with magnificence – part of me did wish it was summer; less layers of clothing, less discomfort, clearer roads. Not knowing if Inspiration issues rain checks – I grabbed my camera, layered up, invited my little dog to come along and headed out on my adventure.)
The ever-controlling mind can be a speedbump to the Inner Whispers
Once on the road, I caught myself thinking – planning a route that I would take. It sounded like this:
“Oh, I know where I should go – I’ll take Britannia toward Tremaine, there are so many open fields and farms out there, I’ll bet there are lots of places to get great photographs!”
To which I replied:
“Stop – this is not a ‘plan the route trip’, this is a ‘drive until Inner Guidance whispers ‘turn here’ or ‘pull over there’ or whatever it chooses to whisper’ trip.”
By now, I was on Britannia heading toward Tremaine – so I figured I may as well continue on, resolving to stop talking to myself and to get out of my own way.
I know the difference between wisdom that comes from within and thoughts that come from my head – and I know how to stop the thoughts to recognize the wisdom. I thought ‘feeling’ the guidance would be easy for me, but it wasn’t; I was caught up in ‘doing this right’, mastering Wu Wei right out of the gate and finding a spectacular setting that would make my heart sing and my camera fill with wonder. I was getting increasingly frustrated with myself and my ever-controlling mind was having a field day, “turn right here, everyone else is turning left”, or “you really should put a cap on how many kilometers you’re willing to drive – gas costs money you know”, and “in the time it’s taken us to get here, and we don’t know when we’ll get there, we don’t even know where ‘there’ is – we could have had the week’s menu plan done, grocery list made and be halfway through the grocery shopping.” Sigh.
Clear a space, Inspiration will flow – and it will be beautiful
So I stopped trying to listen within. Instead, I just drove. The sun was brilliant, I was eventually the only car on the road, the homes were beautiful and the quiet time was a gift. After a time, I did feel like it was a good time to take a turn and think about heading back toward home.
Every now and then, I would think, “that might make a good picture” – but I’d keep on driving. First, it was a thought and I wasn’t following thoughts on this drive. Second, there was often no safe place to pull over without risk to myself or my car. And third, so much of the beauty I was bearing witness to was on private property and I didn’t have the confidence to stop and take a photo of something in somebody’s yard, isn’t that trespassing? I contented myself with the knowing that I had dared to try and had not let my fear of getting lost stand in the way of stepping into the process of Wu Wei.
And while the mind is busy making other plans – Inspiration emerges
I was starting to feel like it was time to go home, I did have lots to do and it seemed like I would need a lot more practice at shunpiking before the process unfolded for me as I’d hoped it would.
As I was about to turn right again and head in the direction of my home, a faint whisper from within said, “no, not this street, the next one.” As I turned down the next street, I wondered, ‘was that intuition? was I thinking again? Good Lord, no wonder the dog tilts her head and looks at me like I’m strange.’
In a flash, I saw a sign; it was red and it looked like it had a letter S on it (for Sally, of course) – without a thought, I pulled into the small clearing that had been shovelled for a car or two (how ‘lucky’ was that?). I was parked before a family camping resort that was closed for the season. Before me, were snow covered trees, a small foot bridge, a creek flowing around ice that dazzled in the sun’s rays and water’s froth. Wow, Wu Wei worked! (Sorry, I’m an English Major – can’t stop myself from latching on to alliteration opportunities when they present themselves.)
The Inner Compass appears for those who look for it
All the photographs in this post were taken on my Shunpiking Saturday adventure. This last photograph took my breath away.
While taking the photo, I hoped to capture the light on the snow and ice, the flow, the froth and the beauty winter magnifies.
When I uploaded the photo to my computer, I gasped – there in the snow, in the form of a shadow, another sign – this one to me from the Universe, a compass with an arrow, pointing a way. I hadn’t seen it while taking the picture. I accept ‘it’, and finding this beautiful spot ‘out of the blue’, as confirmation that I should continue on this path of moving at the pace of guidance.
If you show up there then you know I will too,
Can I go nowhere with you …”