“Why does everything in life have to hurt us so much?”, my client asked me. I ruminate on this topic often, as it seems to me that through trauma and pain, the most authentic growth can happen. The stuff that hurts our feelings generally gets our attention better than anything. And when we are in the drivers seat in creating pain for others, these are lessons which stay by our side; the shadow on our shoulder, reminding us always what it feels like to let someone down. It can make you bitter, or better. Seeing the creatures of the water dying a horrible death, washed up on shore, bloated and forgotten. That sticks with you. Witnessing trees and families torn out by the roots reminds you of the impermanence of life…and of everything which makes up a life. “nothing belongs to nobody” could be the slogan for this planet. In writing, in dancing, in artistic expression, in playing music, in life, in putting it out there, there’s always the risk that someone will find fault in something you do, say or don’t say. I can assure you, if your goal is to find fault in me, you won’t have to look very far. I’m learning that i’m perfectly imperfect, beautiful in my flaws…just like everyone else is. I have had lesson after lesson, humbling me each time and taking me deeper still into my own heart. Through those hard lessons, the tragedies, those mistakes and slip-ups, i have learned more about the meaning of forgiveness and acceptance. Sometimes you’re never aware of the grudges you hold until you, yourself are asking for forgiveness. Those who’ve taken the time to know my heart, look into my eyes and witness my story understand more of me than most. Those who look from a distance and cast judgements, not bothering to take the time to get close enough to see something of themselves in what they see of me…those probably aren’t my people. Some people help us by loving us and some people help us by underestimating us. It says a lot about a person when they would rather publicly shame and poke a person than to get down on the floor with them and help them up. And it’s all ok. Each time someone offers cattiness instead of kindness, it reminds me to dig a little deeper the next time i’m the one watching from a distance as things fall apart…and ask who are you now? We are, all of us, shifting from victim to villain. Hurting each other and ourselves daily, either by choice or by circumstance. We are all innocent and we are all guilty. Maybe it’s helpful to remember that we are not so much “broken” but wounded. We all have wounds, and left untreated, they fester and cause more harm simply by denying their existence. When we have the courage to see ourselves as we have been, as we are, and love our imperfections, it’s life changing. It takes courage to own one’s story, and also discernment. Since most of our stories include other people, it’s important to ask ourselves, is it helpful or hurtful to air everyone’s dirty laundry just because we’ve grown tired of the stink? The affectionate lover who chokes his beloved when she doesn’t obey, the molested child who grows up to teach what they have learned to those who are smaller, the martyr who never stands up for themselves because their parents taught them to keep their mouth shut, The religious extremists who kill and condemn all in the name of a God they believe wants them to oppress others in order to be pleased. There are always a multitude of reasons for the paths we take and the choices we make. Sometimes, those dark alleys show us where our shadows are lurking, waiting to be illuminated so that we can heal the emotional scars which are hiding. How can you heal what you refuse to see? I don’t think we ever get done forgiving anyone or anything, including ourselves. It’s a lifelong journey, forgiveness. And each time we step into the roll of offender, knowingly or unknowingly, we are able to let go of another layer of offense that has been weighing on us. Each and every time is sort of death, and rebirth. Taking ourselves by the hand, leading us onto avenues of ourselves which we are able to enjoy and embrace more and more. We can let go of the people, parts and pieces of ourselves who we don’t really identify with anymore, because we’ve allowed ourselves to bear witness to the pain. Become all of that, for a moment or more. It seems like the biggest lesson in life seems to be about letting go. No matter who or what we love, or hold tight to, even our own opinions of ourselves…it will all one day be blown away like dust. And so will we. But what can we let go of while we’re still here and able to free ourselves from thinking that we’re better or worse than anyone else? Some people miss you when you leave their lives but reflect on a person you could no longer be if you tried. you’ve died too many times since then. they see you look beyond them because you already grieved the loss of them, so i guess it’s time to just let it all go. its not coldness it’s detachment, that’s what we’re taught. and when you feel powerless, you allow the great big beast in you to surface and be hated for just one more thing. But being accepted doesn’t mean we are acceptable. It all depends on the filter that the judge is looking through. Imagine if this world were run by infants, with crystal clear filters and zero walls or preconceived notions. The purity they possess seems to be something that’s bred out of us, and we become jaded because if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ‘em all and leopards don’t change their spots… it is so easy to look at others as failures and offer nothing to support their journey. Some see a person on the street asking for money and feel angry or offended…why should i have to? i worked for mine…but once you hear their story; maybe they were wounded in battle, losing both sons in war and suffer with daily pain now, homeless because the government aid doesn’t help enough. getting money for just one day a week when they can rent a room in a hotel, sleep in a real bed, and take a shower…sounds like survival to me… it’s like planting something in the earth, then looking down on it saying, “you’re probably not gonna make it, you’ll probably just die anyway…what’s the point of trying to do anything?” do we give folks the room to evolve or are we so determined to stick with our opinion that they are good, bad, saint, sinner, prophet, liar, begger, mother, whore, doomed…. Generally, what we witness on the surface is only a glimpse of the magnitude of life inside of each person. We never see and barely acknowledge what is inside of the he or she, and all the history which molded them into the version we see before us. We see qualities in humans that inspire us and label them as teachers, way-showers, light-bearers. But see qualities which disgust or confuse us and we label them as bad, evil, forgotten, shady…and so we do our best to forget them. Blackballed from the human league. Go be you over there, as long as you stay away from me. and i’ll go on being me for as long as you don’t come around, but when you do, i’ll change myself so that you don’t get to have the magic of me anymore because you’re out. But it’s all a sock puppet show with characters falling outta the rafters to surprise and entice us. And who are ya now? temptations all around, bad choices galore…most of which will kill you, at least a little…but it’ll probably feel really good…and everyone else is doing it. Why do you try so hard? Look at our political system? At our lack of environmental care and the tendency to keep taking and forgetting to give. are you a martyr? a saint? or just a human, doing your best to do the least harm, or help even a little. or are you the problem? as if there’s only one…daily we have a bazillion choices which either help or hurt a situation, a person, the world, ourselves. I’m certainly not perfect, and what a gift. the times i fall short of my grandest vision of who i could be, are the times i get to evolve and grow. life IS growth.
“The tiny seed knew that in order to grow, it needed to be dropped in dirt, covered in darkness, struggle to reach the light.” ― -Sandra Kring