Baring handicaps from the casualties of existence can feel isolating, infuriating, scary. Especially when your gratitude list is longer than your list of troubles. Why does one bad decade have to ruin all the rest? The same goes for apples. Why then, are we prone to waging war on entire orchards as if proximity to one slutty tree threatens the integrity of the whole production? Didn’t we plant that seed too? Burn them! Has revenge ever resolved anything? Us and them are two sides on the same plate. So, where’s the beef? We’re vegan. We get our own plate. Oh, I see. On days when I feel good it seems the rest of the world are limping, trauma-zombies in search of a human crutch; wielding their wounds like weapons. Duck! Hide! Goose! Eventually we realize avoidance is futile. Social media is a mirrored stream of symptoms or strengths within our self. Parallels for pause or applause. Apathy accompanies awareness followed by some sort of addiction because helplessness hurts. Be honest, have you ever overcompensated? Initial confrontation makes us think we can’t do anything because our first response is to hold on to our version of the story; I can’t because, plus they should and it’s not my fault anyway. And flex! We’d much rather conceal our flaws, start a YouTube channel and profit from teaching followers how to expertly cover up. Sometimes I’m rude. Exhaustion made me do it. Three months of nightmares since I finally broke down and opened Pandora’s Box. The only thing stronger than cage bars or me on a resistance machine, is truth and at first we struggle to decide which is more painful. It’s cardio. A man-made prison might cut our lives in half but they also offer the illusion of protection. Every ridiculous thing I’ve ever done was motivated by fear. It’s embarrassing and feels childish. Temporary superpowers; my sunken cheeks have silenced more than my senses. It’s just while I figure out what to do next. These pre-occupations, jobs we give ourselves which create a barrier to our purpose, serve to maintain the safest distance from our place along the cosmic punchline. For instance, instead of dealing with the real issue we might decide to have another baby, run, shop, work, condemn, specialize, lie, classify or otherwise separate our self from the whole story in order to avoid our worst fear which is that our whole story might separate us from love. The worst lie we’ve ever been sold.
This week I watched a video featuring a wise, questionably calm woman. Pseudo-Buddhist, not internet esthetician. She was floating on an invisible cloud surrounded by blossoming peonies and inner-peace though I suspected Xanax; meditation doesn’t give me dry mouth. Hungry and jealous, I shoved my sarcasm into the corner and told it to be quiet so I could listen and maybe hear something. She was telling the story of a sword that cuts through the veil of human bullshit. The deity who holds this sword is called Manjushri. While his name means ‘gentle glory’ we’re prone to first using truth as a weapon, all fire and finger-pointing. Like Fox news and the president. I’m guilty of smashing people over the head with data because I’m angry about something and can’t fix it: suicide, child abuse, injustice, centuries of violence, death. Stuff like that. It might make us feel momentarily better to cut someone up with a headline but headlines, at present, don’t heal. Trauma-informed journalism is a lofty goal. Imagine if every time we looked at the face of any accused person we saw our unloved child? No one wants to adopt a grizzly bear but we share responsibility for him either way. At best, our hate-speech illicits blame, righteousness, avoidance or serial dates with Family Guy. I know I’ve given up on life when I’ve settled for Quagmire. As she spoke about the power of mindful self-compassion my inner child blew spit bubbles. I felt stuck in a place of comparison, tiredness and insufficiency. Like nothing would ever be enough.
Every habit he’s ever had is still there in his body, lying dormant like flowers in the desert. Given the right conditions, all his old addictions would burst into full bloom. -Margaret Atwood
Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn. Healing can feel like patching a leaky roof, rushing from drip to drop in a frantic effort to avoid the inevitable. You cannot afford this cover up, friend. But the covering is free. Rather than surrender, we attempt to entertain blissful ignorance; pizza is a vegetable, holiday meals are ‘tradition’ and not really a decorated binge, credit cards are free money we’re owed because life is hard and we deserve a treat. That’s why god invented bankruptcy and liposuction. What bills? Capitalism gives coupons for combat and calls it consciousness so it must be ok. Until one day it’s pitch black and ashes are falling from the sky. Some things are so scary we’d rather stand in the dark applying sunscreen, wearing shades, than face it. If ego-defense were a person they’d look like Gollum. Only instead of a ring we find ourselves clutching the bones of the past and have no idea why. What is so precious we can’t let go? Or worse, we’ve buried the bones in the dirt of a thousand prayers and this brain eating beast resurrects itself day after day. Die already!
Storm of the Century is a Stephen King mini-series about a demon who shows up to a small town and threatens to reveal everyone’s secrets if they don’t give him what he wants. I watched it years ago and the message stayed with me. Stephen said the messages that stick are the ones we should write about. He wants what every evil demon in all the scary stories wants: an innocent child to corrupt so he maintain his reign of terror. The demon mercilessly pesters the townspeople, chanting over and over; Give me what I want and I’ll go away. Believing they have no choice, they end up in a church during the storm. First they try to figure which of their faults is the fault. Turns out they’re all hiding different versions of the same wrong. Together they agree to keep their shame on lock-down in exchange for the sacrifice of the child so they can go on living in fake utopia. Fear has a destructive, understandable power. What will they do if they find out? Will they hurt me more? What if they don’t believe me? What if it doesn’t change anything? What if it ruins everything? What if they get mad, leave, yell, cry, sue!? Part of the avoidance is not wanting to tolerate or manage these unknowns. Meanwhile we live in chronic unrest. Recovery teaches that peace is found in surrender, letting go of attachment to any particular outcome; they can do whatever they want because we’ve chosen to own it. Name and claim instead of shame and blame. Imagine if all the townspeople took off their proverbial clothes and said now what devil? I’m partial to the notion there are still circumstances where getting naked is a bad idea but I’m hoping to grow out of it.
Peace, freedom, whatever you want to call it, is the daily practice of finding some way to love what is as we discover it. Grace is the gift of knowing context and conditions change with the seasons. It comes with an open invitation to keep evolving. There are moments when I want nothing more than to push eject, trash this body, its entire recorded history and be anywhere but here, now. The work is learning to recognize in those moments when my face is going numb, my teeth hurt and my mouth is filling up with the familiar, metallic taste of cortisol that I’m believing the lie. Love is the quickest way back to the truth.
“ Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.”-Rainer Maria Rilke
p.s happy birthday Jilly Bean xo