A number of weeks ago, I participated in an I Ching workshop. It was an amazing and very revealing 3 hours! One of the questions our workshop teacher instructed us to ask the Universe was, "What is my  incarnation objective?" Or rather, "What did I come to Earth to accomplish this time around?"

So I asked the Honorable Ancestors to comment on my purpose for being here and was surprised and a little disappointed (at first) in the answer. You see, I was hoping to be told I was sent back to Earth to move mountains, make a BIG difference, leave a HUGE impression, get written about in history books and magazines. Instead, the Universe told me that I was sent back to Earth to focus on "Returning"...huh?? I was sent here in order to Return here again and again? I didn't understand.  But then I read the interpretation and started to really think about it...

‘Things cannot be altogether exhausted. 
On the outside, stripping away brings things to an end; 
On the inside comes turnaround, 
And so Return follows.’
Return, in the old Chinese character, shows a foot going out from a town, and a road to walk on. So the first movement of 'returning' seems to be to go away from the crowd, and getting 'back on track'. This is not so much about a return to any particular place, as a return to your own path. It means getting back to fundamentals, to what you know to be right.

I also consulted with our workshop instructor to get her input. She told me to look for the patterns...both good and bad that I create in my life. I am supposed to acknowledge these, learn the lesson and (in the case of a bad pattern) change them. My incarnation objective is not about changing the world in BIG ways or impacting a HUGE number of people...it is more personal, more intimate...I am to focus on me and becoming a better me. And to remember that Nature/Universe has its own timeline and I must follow the ebb and flow of natural cycles without trying to impose my own agenda.

This is a reminder that there is a natural cadence to events, a time for each stage, and the return is not to be hurried.
But it is still purposeful: allying that nascent spark of energy with a 'direction to go' brings harvest. This is the integration and involvement part of the cycle. First came relaxation and release from guilt or compulusion ('without haste... not a mistake'); then comes re-engagement with purpose. The moving lines seem to tell a similar story of 'going out and coming in'.

The Daxiang emphasises that all this happens in its own time:
‘Thunder dwelling in the centre of the earth. Returning. 
The ancient kings closed the borders at winter solstice. 
Itinerant merchants did not travel, 
The prince did not tour the regions.’

Of the twelve hexagrams that traditionally marked the months of the year, Hexagram 24 is the darkest. The moment of the year when light begins its Return is also the moment when the days are shortest and the light most remote. The trigrams represent this as thunder in the centre of the earth: in Spring, it will come roaring to the surface, awakening everything to vigorous growth. But for now, the fields and the borders are closed; it is time for introspection, not for business as usual. This hexagram doesn't herald a triumphal return, but a gradual recuperation and recharging. The spark of life needs nurturing in stillness.

In these small ways, I will be able to nurture love and kindness in my community. I will be planting the seeds that will then grow and flourish in the next cycle...

So I offer you some lessons that I have learned so far since moving to Jamaica in the hopes that one of them may spark something within you:

Go Without:
When we decided to move from Brooklyn to Kingston, we could not afford to ship the entire 8 years worth of stuff we accumulated in our apartment. We had to be discerning about what was most important/valuable to us. We were able to shed a lot of unnecessary weight. We got rid of clothes, toys, kitchen items, books (which was one of the hardest things for me to part with!), old art materials and other odds and ends that took up space and collected dust.

Some of what we got rid of in Brooklyn we thought we would replace once we settled into our Kingston home, however, we found that either a) we really didn't need (or want) it after all or b) it was much too expensive to try to replace here so we really didn't need (or want) it that much. We found that baby items in particular are very expensive here. We sold or gave away the little we had left from when Shine was a baby and we thought we would just get the "essential" items for Song once we were here. Aside from a small bathtub, car seat and high chair, we are going without all those "essential" baby items. And you know what?  It is not any harder or less convenient and Song has no clue that she doesn't have a big crib or bouncy seat or playmat or changing table or playtable or sippy cups or musical mobiles or Baby Einstein videos! She is an engaged, happy and very busy little girl and we have fewer things creating clutter and chaos in our space.

Celebrate Simplicity:
Because so many here are forced to "go without", there is more focus on enjoying the small things in life like a beautiful sunset, or roast breadfruit. In paring down our life to our most treasured possessions and making a conscious effort to live more lightly, we have more room for enjoying experiences like spending an afternoon at the beach or a homecooked meal with friends. Mo and I hope to impart on our children that life is found in the moments of experience...not in plastic packages.

Don't Wait:
If the fruit vendor is selling sweet sop today, buy it today because tomorrow she may only have oranges. Life is too short to wait for the ideal situation. Living doesn't happen in the future...it is happening NOW! 

Find the Rhythm:
Music is an important part of living in Jamaica. It is everywhere! At night Mo and I sit out on the balcony and listen to the sessions happening across the way. Many times selectors (dj's) will play a song over various rhythms. Each version has a different vibe even though the lyrics are the same. Maybe because music is such a deeply rooted part of the culture or maybe it is because you can never tell what tomorrow will bring (sweet sop or oranges) but I find that people tend to flow more with the rhythm of the Universe here than in Brooklyn. 

Jah will Provide:
Jah, God, the Ancestors, the Universe...however you choose to label that Divine Energy that pulses through all of us, they/it will provide us with all that we need. Ask and you really will receive. Be open and you will find your path. Be still and you will hear your prayers answered.

Peace and Wellness,

The above excerpt of the Returning Hexagram comes from this website which aligns itself with the same interpretation I divined in the workshop using "The I Ching Workbook".