When all under your feet is in motion, go lightly.

It’s dark because you are trying too hard.
Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly.
Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply.
Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.

It is rare for Aldous Huxley’s words from The Island not to land in some way for those who read them. Trying incredibly hard is conditioned into us – from childhood we are scolded if we don’t look as though we are trying hard enough. We are told to “make an effort”. We learn to display the difficulty that we are striving to overcome in order to deflect criticism and win approval, and are fed a steady diet of messages, not of mastery, but of effort.

The holding of lightness and depth not as polarities but as complements is key. Lightness does not mean superficiality, denial and rejection of what is happening around us. It is not a lack of engagement or commitment. It is more akin to the experience of mindfulness, that moment of distinguishing between the clutter and distressing clamour of our mind, and the steady, centred self that is available to us, but is so often unrecognised and unreached. The lightness is the place of equilibrium from which we can navigate the turmoil around us, a place from which we can examine our options and respond with agility and grace.

The lightness is not a lack of serious consideration – as Huxley himself says, “feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply”. It is not a performance that you are presenting to the world, but how you are choosing to carry yourself, to stay afloat when the sea is rough.

Lightly, lightly – it’s the best advice ever given me….

So throw away your baggage and go forward.

There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet,
trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair.
That’s why you must walk so lightly.
Lightly my darling,
on tiptoes and no luggage,
not even a sponge bag,
completely unencumbered.

-Aldous Huxley, Island


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