“Anger is not really your emotion. Anger is your last armor right before you show your actual emotion.” — Stephen Colbert on WTF
With the year near ending, I’ve been thinking about a goal for 2019. A quote (“forget safety // live where you fear to live”) prompted me to re-read the full Rumi poem.
There are many guises for intelligence.
One part of you is gliding in a high windstream,
while your more ordinary notions
take little steps and peck at the ground.
Conventional knowledge is death to our souls,
and it is not really ours. It is laid on.
Yet we keep saying we find “rest” in these “beliefs.”
We must become ignorant of what we have been taught
and be instead bewildered.
Run from what is profitable and comfortable.
Distrust anyone who praises you.
Give your investment money, and the interest
on the capital, to those who are actually destitute.
Forget safety. Live where you fear to live.
Destroy your reputation. Be notorious.
I have tried prudent planning long enough.
From now on, I’ll be mad.
By Rumi, from “A Year With Rumi,” Edited by Coleman Barks
Although the near-last stanza is what is quoted most frequently, I am drawn today to “We must become ignorant of what we have been taught // and be instead bewildered”. I’m noticing the word “bewildered” and how it has the word “wild” inside of it. Is it about the wild being brought out from inside? Is it from the outside in?
Time for the OED! I have a hard copy condensed (itty bitty, need a magnifying glass print) OED. Once I’ve toted it from the shelves to the kitchen island where the light is best today, I find the definition:
- to lose in pathless places; to confound for want of a plain road
What a lovely and apt definition. Thank you, Samuel Johnson. I know this is the definition Rumi meant with his original word — not the more common, second definition: To confuse in mental perception, to perplex… Since I can’t read Persian, I have to thank translator Coleman Barks, too. I am awed by how one word can turn a poem.
I’m feeling bewildered this week while thinking about what (if anything) to set out to accomplish next year. Thankfully, I live in the desert so it will be pretty easy to find that “pathless place” physically as well as metaphorically.
I just noticed the word right before “bewilder” is “bewig”. How accurate is that?!
I read my friend, Paula’s, post yesterday morning A Sad Day. I sat out in the backyard and cried for a while. I am staying in my “very sad ” this weekend, too. Not because the memories of my own assaults came back. Not because I remembered others’ stories. I am sad because it feels like those senators just don’t care. They may believe Ford, et al. But their actions tell me that they don’t care compared to what they want.
The stories of girls and women, boys and men who were bullied and assaulted may or may not be believed, but the powerful just don’t care about our feelings if it gets in their way.
(I can’t find the link right now…) I read a very good self-effacing man’s confessional this week, wondering if his memories of how he had treated women were the same as theirs. He asked and found out he had hurt at least one, so he publicly apologized. Had K. been emotionally mature enough to respond this way, I believe we’d all have responded much differently.
Senators, you should take away another lesson from this week: humans are designed to remember when they’ve been hurt. And you just did it to us again. WE WILL hold it against you. Guaranteed.
A couple of days ago I found a tiny jade elephant charm mixed into the rocks in my Arizona backyard.
I’ve walked by that spot hundreds of times, but never saw the elephant. Or maybe it wasn’t there until that morning. Maybe. More likely rain, wind, under-surface critters, and my own steps and weight shifted material to move the elephant into view. The charm has likely been in the rocks from when they were brought into the yard for landscaping. How did it get into the load of rock, then? Where did the rocks originate? How many times have people been near the rocks on their route to my backyard?
What I find fascinating about a found object like this charm is it focuses my attention completely on something unexpected for quite a while. For several minutes I examine it, clean it, turn it around with my fingers. I wonder how it got to this particular place and time. I wonder what it will bring to me, and what I will bring to it.
Does the object have significance? Some cultures use jade elephant charms to bring good fortune to the wearer. A quick web search says that a jade elephant is used in Feng Sui to strengthen the influence of that room’s section. A symbol of an animal can bring with it all the power of that live animal. We have (somewhat) changed our treatment of elephants in recent years. We know elephants have strong family ties, lifelong memories, and feel emotions as we do. You need only read the biographies of the elephants at the The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee to feel connected.
I believe the charm has whatever significance I give it. I believe at some point someone wore this charm, and they believed it had significance, too. I believe that person was not from a Western culture, so I am now connected to her or him through this charm. I believe they valued the jade stone it was carved from. I believe this charm has connected me to the original wearer and reminds me again how we are all connected to everything.
Saturday I received a text from a friend showing me a picture of his new son. Baby was, of course, adorable with that “Where the heck… What the heck…” look on his face common to newborns.
This friend has a lovely family with a wife, step-daughter, and two sons. This is not at all my idea of him! My idea of him is stuck from over twenty years ago. In my head he is still the person I would call a “rake.” Some admiration, some judgment. Sticky identity. Hmmm.
But enough about him. What does this have to do with me?
This is actually a good question.
What does it say about me, my identity, that keeps him stuck? What is my identity that holds him in his? When I say “his” I mean my idea of him. Probably not his own idea of himself or anyone else’s idea of him.
If you want to drive to Denver, you need to know where you’re starting from to plan your route accurately. If you think you might be lost, you need to stop and find some reference points.
Where am I to still see him that way? That’s what popped into my head last Saturday as we texted back and forth, and I looked at a new human being with half of his DNA.
I knew it would be necessary for me to un-stick my identity of me from back then to allow his to be current. I’ve been running through some attributes to see what felt most solid.
Gadabout: traveled only a little
Went around curves really fast: too scared to do that
Worked hard to change: afraid I haven’t changed at all
…. oh. Only matters how it feels, not whether or not it’s true.
More work to do, if I can be brave enough to do it.
The Concept of Space
I enjoyed this fresh take on the notion of space… http://www.awakin.org/index.php?op=show_email
“We think of space as if it were a far-off destination or something we create. But really, space is ever present and everywhere. A room crammed full of stuff doesn’t have less space than an empty room, It just has more stuff in it. We are not creating space when we take stuff out, space is already there. There is nothing but space.
Inside us is space as well. Like our external space, our internal space can become crowded with stuff that might impede our ability to move around and do things efficiently. Our internal space becomes more and more crowded with thoughts, beliefs, and judgments that keep us from healing, movement, and growth. Much like a hoarder who crowds his life with material things because he fears he may someday need them for survival and well-being, we hoard and crowd ourselves with unnecessary beliefs and judgments.
“Should” thoughts and “can’t” thoughts and “have to” thoughts and “never/ always” thoughts are dis-empowering and create impossible conditions for our healing, depleting us of our energy. Thoughts like “I will never have enough time, space or resources to fulfill my needs.” Or thoughts like “the only way to feel better is to have or do x, y and z” set us up for failure time and again. These thoughts crowd our internal space and become externalized in the form of judgments of others and the world.”
How am I doing that?
This post is about our reflections. Those wonderful people who hold up the gorgeous, polished mirror for us every day.
This morning I listened to a friend talk about how her low self-esteem and how her family enforced the idea that she was never good enough. I thought, “It’s sad that her parents gave her that belief, but it’s even sadder that she still believes it.” I wanted to ask why she still bought into that. (Ironic that I was invalidating her, too.)
I realized then that she was a reflection. How do I do that? How do I spout decades-old beliefs about myself as if a) they were true or b) I couldn’t change them to whatever I wanted?
I know how the mind works and its pre-disposition to the negative, to the habit, and to the usual pattern. BUT, if I do some simple math and accounting and add up the time for all of the “bad” things I’ve done and have been done to me, they maybe add up to one day (with some contingency) total. But let’s say one day. Now comparing this one day to the over 22,630 days I have lived up until now, why would I add one more second to that side of the ledger? Why? More importantly, why would I be the one doing it?
Time to shift my attention. Thanks, Reflector.
The Many Ways to Isolate
The author, Barbara Sher, says “Isolation is the dream killer.” She says it’s not your attitude or your skill level or your work ethic. My book would not be published now if I had not been a part of a group that encouraged, prodded, and supported me for the last year. Had a chosen to pull away, I know my book would not be done. The romantic idea of a writer ensconced in a Parisian garret plonking away writing is the worst kind of myth. I doubt ten books have been completed that way.
Yet, knowing this, I still find myself in the habit of isolating.
I laughed out loud at myself this morning when I thought, “If I can just make those amends, then I can be left in peace.” I really thought that. La! My ego is so stupid sometimes.
I looked up the word isolate (because that’s what I like to do) to see the origin of the word. Thank you Online Etymology Dictionary!
isolated (adj.) “standing detached from others of its kind,” 1740, a rendering into English of French isolé “isolated” (17c.), from Italian isolato, from Latin insulatus “made into an island,” from insula “island” (see isle (n.)). English at first used the French word (isole, also isole’d, c. 1750), then after isolate (v.) became an English word, isolated became its past participle.
I realized I can island myself with a lot of other humans around just by thinking of myself as different/not-as-good/better-than them, too.
My days and evenings could be filled with activities, yet I could just be isolating in a more subtle way.
I insulate myself from my own feelings when I want nothing more than to be alone so I can eat.
I stand apart from humanity whenever I make someone “them” and put me with an “us.”
To quote Paul Simon, on Sounds of Silence, “And a rock feels no pain. And an island never cries.”
I said in my book that no one can complete a Hero’s Journey alone. I know that is true. I know that life is layered with Journeys. I know, too, that isolating is always the results of an ego-identity desperate to be right and special. To feel that it must make me feel separate.
My book, Exploring the Magic of Your Hero’s Journey, is due to launch September 9th. Now that the writing is done and I’m wrangling issues like the cover for the paperback, the author page, ISBN, etc., I’m left with the space to wonder, was writing the book a risk? Was publishing it a risk? Did I take a risk? I’m thinking about the same content for a children’s version. Is that a risk?
I bought a house last week. Was that a risk?
I plan on working remotely for several months in the winter. Is that a risk?
Am I taking risks in my life? Why would I want to take risks? Isn’t feeling safe necessary to successfully get through life?
Certainly everything in life has some risk to it. Humans are programmed to see completely unrealistic, low risk events as fearsome (e.g., shark attack) and to see events with high risk and high probability as nothing to be afraid of at all (e.g., driving a car to and from work every day). Even for real pirates dysentery was a more probable risk than sharks.
When I started writing the book, I didn’t think of the risk of the personal content I would divulge. My editor recommended I change the angle of my own Hero’s Journey from shamanic work to writing the book because the writing angle was so much more accessible and marketable. I resisted.
I thought about that potential change for two days and talked about it with friends. I decided I had to leave my shamanic journey in the story and I had to add more of it or the book would not be my truth. Opening up and sharing that part of myself still feels very risky. Will there be any reward?
Stacia Pierce said it well in her Huffington Post article:
“Once you have become accustomed to taking risks, you break free from the average way of living and thinking. Instead of fighting to stay safe you gain the momentum and confidence needed to welcome new opportunities in your career or business. Risks build your self-confidence and self-respect, empowering you to feel stronger and more confident in taking on new endeavors. When you are open to new challenges you position yourself to profit a whole lot more than you would just staying the same.“
…but can I have it anyway?
In a meeting this week, we were doing a reading from the Brown Book (OA’s version of the AA Big Book). One of the stories had the word “deserving” in some context I don’t remember. At that moment, I had the thought, “I don’t feel like I deserve it, but can I have it anyway?”
It was in that moment that a wave washed over me. I don’t feel like I deserve [peace, serenity, love, success, happiness, whatever…], but can I have it anyway?
I hate the word and the concept of deserving. Because it implies that you could deserve or not. What is the criteria? Also, the phrase “worth it.” You’re worth it! Who isn’t? Well… me???
I know the contents of my own mind. Yikes! Very scary pirate!
I know what I do and say most every day. A little less scary, but still…
But can I have what I want anyway?
Still don’t know what/who I’m asking this of.
When I shared, as usual, there were nods of recognition and agreement all around.