And if you have no ceremony, no habits, which may be opulent or may be simple but are exact and rigorous and familiar, how can you reach toward the actuality of faith, or even a moral life, except vaguely? The patterns of our lives reveal us. Our habits measure us. Our battles with our habits speak of dreams yet to become real.
Mary Oliver–Long Life: Essays and Other Writings
The patterns of our lives reveal us. Many years ago, I was in a group working with a Transpersonal Therapist. It was important to him to give us psychological and spiritual “tools” to understand what our lives were saying to us, and looking at our life patterns was a core part of that. He had this understanding that if you were currently struggling with a thing, that you should take time and paper and pencil and begin to look at your life every 7 years back as far as you could go–all the way to birth–all the way to being in utero. So, if I am 55, I would look at what is happening in my life now, and what was happening at 48, 41, 34, 27, 20, 13, and 6 and in utero. At first glance, it would seem that one might get back so far and just have no memory of what was happening at one’s life as a 6 year old or in utero. I was always amazed, when I gave my life and memory time to reflect, what memories would surface.
And what patterns. Very often, the thing I was struggling with at the present had repeated itself in similar ways over my life. When one’s own life begins to show one such patterns, one’s life is giving one the opportunity to consider what and who helped create the pattern, how we ourselves have begun to help sustain the pattern, and how that pattern is serving or hindering our lives. Often these patterns do not originate with our own choices. At some point, however, we begin to cooperate with and contribute to sustaining the pattern. The real question, once we have begun to see the patterns in our lives is whether we wish to continue to repeat them.
The patterns of our lives reveal us. Our habits measure us. Our battles with our habits speak of dreams yet to become real.
Seeing a pattern that we are ready to let go of may, in its own right, be the preparation and opening to the true dreams of our lives.