The Candle and the Shadow: The Magic of Doing Nothing

When I speak of magic, I'm talking about focusing my intent and exerting my will on the universe to move it in some direction. It's easy to think of magic as active, power shining forth. Increasingly I've come to realize that there is as much magic in the shadows where we choose not to act.

Each time I'm too afraid to act, I'm putting my energy behind a universe where people are afraid to act. I'm saying that I value my fear above the steps I could take to combat it. If I'm aware of why I'm not acting, my intent can be just as focused as in any spell. Sometimes, that can be for the best; Timothy Treadwell would have been better off putting some will behind a healthy respect and fear of bears. However many times, fear gets in the way of me building the world I'd like to live in.

Similarly there are several times when I've looked at the options before me and chosen __none of the above__; there had to be another answer. Sometimes I've been able to take active steps to find other answers. Sometimes though, I've chosen to wait, willing that I find another option, accepting the chance that the choice will be taken away from me as worth the risk.

OK, but how often do I actually know why I choose not to act? It's at least as difficult (sometimes significantly more difficult) to find and focus intent behind inaction as active intent. I think I started to pay attention to why I was not acting as a side effect of trying to pay better attention to my intent behind the time I would act. I'd realize that I had considered acting and realize that it didn't make sense to act for some reason. As an example, I've considered working with people in various spiritual contexts. Once I decided not to act because we wanted to accomplish radically different goals, another time because they were not ready and I was respecting that. I realized that that just as I was building up a sense of my sacred work when I acted, I was building up an equally important sense of the boundaries of that work when I chose not to act.

Since then I decided to start carefully considering inaction just as action. Some things I consider more carefully than others. There's no intrinsic intent and the reason for not acting can depend very much on context.

A while ago, I was on a trip, exploring a new event across the country from where I live. I had no idea whether I'd be back and would only be there for a couple of days. I found myself attracted to someone there. This had happened to me from time to time on various trips. In the past I had always been unsure of what I wanted, what risks I was comfortable taking. I had been indecisive about whether to cultivate a connection and never gotten around to deciding before the opportunity drifted away. However, through my work with Venus, I was in a much better position to understand what I wanted, what I needed and which risks would be appropriate in the situation. I could act if I chose. I was quite nervous and scared. How would others view me if I approached someone in this situation? Would I be cheapening my love related work to be open to this? I realized that if I failed to act I would be choosing out of fear of my perception; I would be denying my spiritual work focused around being open to living in the moment and treating love and connection as sacred. That would be a powerful message I didn't want to send. So, I chose to act in support of my desire for connection, respecting the work I'd done to understand what I was interested in and what risks I was open to. Had the context been different, inaction might have had an entirely different intent. If I needed more information or didn't want to be a person open to that type of connection, inaction could have been a strong intent in support of knowing my own needs.

I find that the power of the shadow is a recurring theme in my work. I've talked about some examples here, but I've also explored the cost of doing nothing while discussing my fear of being open on this blog. Doubtless we will see this theme return in future posts.