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Author: laviniachristine

A Sugar Manifesto

A Sugar Manifesto

When did I become the exception in regards to diet? Why is it so strange to eat only when hungry? Why is it so difficult for others to accept good habits? I wish I knew the answers.  Today being a holiday, I always find it especially challenging to dodge all of these questions. A family picnic, parades, dinner parties, weddings, this time of year is rife with situational landmines for people such as myself.

 

Morning smoothie packets to put in the freezer. This way I rotate greens and always have one ready no matter how busy I get.

 

I am baffled as to why eating healthfully has become such a point of discussion. I walk into a grocery store and see people buying things that do not even classify as food in my book, chock full of chemicals and fake ingredients. They look at me as if I am the one with the sickness because I continue feeding my body healthfully no matter what day it is. I never “cheat”. There is no such thing as cheating if I want to keep on walking, hiking and dancing. I chose living a full life over a store bought cheesecake…hands down.

 

My idea of a “treat” is a grain free, dairy free, nut free and refined sugar free cookie. They are incredibly sweet to me and I never feel deprived. Some in my family still raise an eyebrow or two when they learn what I exclude from my diet. My father is convinced that if I remove grains from my diet, I have nowhere else to get carbohydrates and therefore must be deficient. I simply don’t have time to argue the merits of my diet any longer. I also can’t spend another minute of my life energy explaining why I only eat when I am hungry, which is usually twice a day. Why do I care if society has completely bought into the made up structure of three meals a day? People shovel food into their mouths simply because a clock tells them too. That is madness to me. We eat to live, not live to eat.

 

 

 

My July 4th mid day feed. Pesto Chicken Pizza from the Healing Kitchen. (AIP and Paleo). http://grazedandenthused.com/pesto-chicken-pizza-from-the-healing-kitchen-paleoaip/

 

I know this way of life works and my doctors see that I am stable. Most importantly, I feel better when I eat this way. So the next time you attend a family function, or a holiday party, be careful what you say and how you judge others. Do not force ice cream on someone and give him or her a verbal lashing for not participating in your sugar fest and do not become the sugar dealer of your family. It is a drug and you would probably not force it upon a diabetic. Realize that I, like others, have made a very deliberate and conscious decision to do what is best for my health.

 

One of the many variations of my “treat” cookies. (Paleo, Grain free, Refined Sugar Free) http://mysticcookie.com/lighter-chocolate-chip-cookies/

 

After much self-work, I never crave “fake” food, I am never without and I feel satiated. Please do not pass along your misgivings about how you eat to me; I categorically refuse to take on that burden. Cho0se to hold your tongue instead of offering a litany of misguided nutritional information. It may make you feel better for your choices, but it does nothing to me beyond making me once again aware of the level of ignorance in regards to nutrition. It also makes me sad that people do not exercise enough self-love to eat well. It is a gift that you give yourself and well worth the effort.

 

 

Be Yourself. Everyone Else is Taken.

Be Yourself. Everyone Else is Taken.

“You deserve a lover who wants you disheveled, with everything and all the reasons that wake you up in a haste and the demons that won’t let you sleep. You deserve a lover who makes you feel safe, who can consume this world whole if he walks hand in hand with you; someone who believes that his embraces are a perfect match with your skin. You deserve a lover who wants to dance with you, who goes to paradise every time he looks into your eyes and never gets tired of studying your expressions. You deserve a lover who listens when you sing, who supports you when you feel shame and respects your freedom; who flies with you and isn’t afraid to fall.You deserve a lover who takes away the lies and brings you hope, coffee, and poetry.”

*Frida Kahlo*

 

Loving self is one of the hardest things we all must learn. The internal nitpicking and focus on faults rather than strengths can become incessant. While I have worked on self-acceptance for many years, it still eludes me to some degree. I suspect I fake it better than most, putting on an air of self-confidence. The truth behind this grand deception is that I, like so many others, am still faced with many moments of defeat, self-loathing and dissatisfaction.

 

As a teenager,  the idea of loving self could not have been more foreign. It was ingrained in me not to think too highly of myself by embracing humility fully and completely.  If I felt my confidence rise, I worried that my ego was out of control. The only way I knew to rectify this imaginary ego feast was by putting myself down. I began to constantly think I was not as smart, beautiful or capable as I believed myself to be. Being a dancer did not do much to challenge this negative internal dialogue. Dancers thrive on self criticism. We are never good enough and perfection is something that is always an unattainable goal. What horrible voices to have on repeat in one’s head during formative years.

 

Shortly after discovering the concept of self-love, I began the process of unraveling years of conditioning.  I practiced self-affirmations and still do to this day. Frida Kahlo’s poem is one such affirmation speaking to what she and all women deserve in regards to love. I find these words have a specific purity thereby quieting the negative voices if only for a moment. In no other way are we more vulnerable than when loving another.  Sharing our heart completely without hiding the jagged pieces of our soul, is scary and requires some degree of self-confidence.  One needs to feel deserving of the type of love that is both healthy and good. If one does not feel deserving, it is quite possible to fall into an unhealthy relationship.  One that is dictated by faults and fears rather than loving acceptance.

Reading the following line by Kahlo settled in my bones like an old and familiar wisdom longing to be brought to light.

 

“You deserve a lover who makes you feel safe, who can consume this world whole if he walks hand in hand with you; someone who believes that his embraces are a perfect match with your skin.”

 

We all deserve the intensity of this type of connection. Why settle when the possibility exists for an otherworldly love? I say, never settle into a relationship that does not honor who you authentically are: mind, body and spirit. Settling, while providing some comfort, will have long term consequences. It is never enough to be with someone that does not “see” you and value you for all that you are and all that you are not. Know your worth and be unabashedly who you are. Celebrate all of the unique and beautiful qualities that make you…you. Be open and receive, you deserve it.

 

The Space Between

The Space Between

Oh Beloved,

take me.

Liberate my soul.

Fill me with your love and

release me from the two worlds.

If I set my heart on anything but you

let fire burn me from inside.

Oh Beloved,

take away what I want.

Take away what I do.

Take away what I need.

Take away everything

that takes me from you.

-Rumi

 

I comfortably reside in the space between, constantly vacillating between two ends of a spectrum. The space in which night meets day, darkness greets light and in which ideas percolate like a strong cup of coffee. This space is calm, no unnecessary posturing. Ideas bounce off the boundaries as if molecules of a much larger universe. Nothing is claimed but all is examined. It is a space of introspection and deep thought, a place I like to stay in until ushered out by the demands of the world.

 

If asked what my favorite color, book, food or movie is, I have no answer. It is not that I don’t harbor strong opinions, because I do. Nothing floats up to the surface from this between without great introspection and review. I prefer to let things simmer, mulling over the merits of all positions and the reasons why people hold the beliefs they do. Rumi speaks to this with “Fill me with your love and, release me from the two worlds, If I set my heart on anything but you, let fire burn me from inside.” I wish to be released from the world of right and wrong and black and white. I wish to live in the muted world of gray. I wish to be left alone with an uncluttered brain, free to think and write without the noise of others constant chatter about things that mean very little to me.

 

“When you start to notice the mystical, the mystical will start to notice you.”

― Dacha Avelin

 

Because of these desires, I am often seen as wishy-washy. On the contrary, I have a constant internal dialogue going at all times. I am able to see all sides of an argument, the only exception being when an idea goes against my core beliefs. If this should happen, God be with you. I can be very stubborn and disagreeable about the few things that I hold dear.

 

All of this makes me question what really makes something wrong as opposed to right? Obviously, some values are clear and non negotiable. Thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not bear false witness and so on and so forth. I don’t think many would argue the merits of the Golden Rule. Rather, it is in all other instances, that I vacillate. On a thousand fronts whether it be tattoos, religion, reading material/genre, intimacy or political ideas. I stand in the middle and enjoy a panoramic view of the world discussion.

 

Why then is this space foreign to so many? Would it not be a better world if everyone dwelled closer to the middle rather than the extreme? We are all fragile souls having a very imperfect and human experience. It can be a painful experience when not given breath and space to live an examined life. We require this space to spread our wings and learn how to fly, each in our own unique and beautiful way. The next time you are pressed for an opinion or pulled into a debate, move gently and quietly away from the noise. Do not make a scene; do not hurt the other person. Retreat into the space between and into the calm and serene waters of understanding, faith, hope and love.

 

Messages from Spirit

Messages from Spirit

 

Spirit; It moves within, around and beyond. I feel it most intensely when I relax my body and go to that space, the bridge between this place and the next. The heaviness of gravity lifts if only for a moment and I am free. I love the tranquility and crave the calmness of this space, especially during my daily wade into the sea of uncertainty.  I know that soon enough I will reside here and be free from earthly restrictions. I don’t really mind what others think or what definitions they place.  I do not require specifics…..I just know.

Of late, I have been receiving numerous messages from this space and have taken quiet notice. I have become far too aware over the years to let these messages go unnoticed and instead make the conscience decision to trust this voice without hesitation. I experience these messages in many forms: be it the white butterflies that are representative of my grandmother’s wisdom, the visceral moments of universal connection representing spirit or in vivid dreams that are far too telling to be happenstance.

 

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.

Henry David Thoreau

 

I had one such dream last night that had me pondering its meaning well into the morning.  Having often dreamt of one particular animal my entire life,  I now view this animal as a guide that only makes an appearance during times of great transformation or emotional wrangling. Similarly, water in my dreams always serves as a spiritual medium for transformation. Last night’s dream had components of both and clearly sent the message that my deep subconscious is harboring fears.  Fearful of new and deep emotions that I have become acquainted with, yet knowing it is precisely these feelings that I require most for growth. 

I accept that these messages are Divine and meant specifically for me, but still wonder what it all means?  My mind circles back and forth between current situations, what aspects are troubling me and what decisions I am wavering on. I often fall back on the metaphor of a candy store to frame this give and take. Walking by this store and looking in the window, one may find it impossible to resist the sweets within. If I choose to enter the store and gorge on the sweets, I will most certainly suffer for this transgression.  If I call upon my will power, I can continue on my way knowing that I have averted a sugar binge. We are all faced with this metaphorical candy store window in many ways. The easiest route is represented by the immediate satisfaction found when entering the store and eating all the sweets.  For me, the spiritual way forward will undoubtedly be looking at the sweets but choosing to continue down the sidewalk into the unknown.

 

“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.”

Gautama Buddha, Sayings Of Buddha

 

Messages are as individual and unique as each one of us. One person may look at the sky and see a cloud while another may take away a deeper meaning from viewing this very same sky. The balance for me lies in learning to disregard the outside noise and trust my inner voice. The very same voice that speaks through spirit and knows me better than I know myself. A hallmark of true wisdom is seen in one that recognizes and acts upon this voice more often than not. I continue to aspire to be wise by listening to my spirit when it speaks.

Loving and Letting Go

Loving and Letting Go

Touched by an Angel

We, unaccustomed to courage

exiles from delight

live coiled in shells of loneliness

until love leaves its high holy temple

and comes into our sight

to liberate us into life.

Love arrives

and in its train come ecstasies

old memories of pleasure

ancient histories of pain.

Yet if we are bold,

love strikes away the chains of fear

from our souls

We are weaned from our timidity

In the flush of love’s light

we dare be brave

And suddenly we see

that love costs all we are

and will ever be.

Yet it is only love

which sets us free

Maya Angelou

 

Love and vulnerability, forever bound in a dance of both holding and letting go. It is within this dance that we live, learn and grow, gaining valuable life experience along the way. Loving another is one of the first emotions we experience when looking into our mother’s eyes shortly after entering this world. This love affair with connection continues until we are ready to leave this place, fully spent from a life well lived. Love exists in all types of relationships: friends, siblings, parents, partners and extended family. In fact I would argue that love is the primary emotion in most instances.

Loving another does not mean giving free license for one to do as they will with your heart. On the contrary, loving another may mean doing so from a distance. In some cases loving another may simply be living with the intention not to dislike them and committing to this daily. Those that have experienced abusive relationships will understand this type of love. By holding on to hate for the person that did harm, it only further gives strength and veracity to the negativity.  By loving and letting go, one frees themselves from the vicious cycle of bitterness.

 

“Some of us think holding on makes us strong but sometimes it is letting go”

-Herman Hesse

 

 

All much easier than it sounds you are probably saying. This exemplifies the difficult soul work that we are all called to do. Dr Maya Angelou speaks so clearly about this task with, “old memories of pleasure, ancient histories of pain. Yet if we are bold, love strikes away the chains of fear, from our souls.” We all bear scars from past vulnerabilities that leave us exposed and raw. The fear of future pain can be paralyzing. We are in a sense “chaining our souls” from the experience that it requires for growth.  In this state the energy is not flowing but becomes stagnant. The effect of blocked energy on the body is profound.  It is not beyond the realm of possibilities to see illness in one that is caught in this state.  

As tentative as a child, one must take small steps to open their heart again and again. This requires looking fear in the face and refusing to back down. It is standing on the very edge of the shadows and choosing instead to focus on the light. It is hearing these words, “And suddenly we see that love costs all we are and will ever be. Yet it is only love which sets us free” and upon hearing them allowing the soul freedom to be open and feel completely once again.

 

“The love of the family, the love of one person can heal. It heals the scars left by a larger society. A massive, powerful society.”

Maya Angelou

 

 

As a measured person, my challenge is to constantly check myself when the voices of doubt and fear become loud. I must learn to comfortably walk the space between honoring my intuition and turning away from the fear. This balance feels precarious at times and intimidating. It is only when I chose to let go that I find the most peace in the process. It is in these moments that I am the most clear of my direction. Without the haze of excessive thinking I settle more readily into the unknown with an open heart and mind.

The lesson for me continues to be letting go of the end result in all instances, including when choosing to love another. With adult children on the move and new relationships blossoming, this message could not be timelier. I am thankful for the divine spirit holding me up when I am not able to. I am never alone in my ventures and am at rest knowing that I will be okay and well supported no matter what the outcome.

 

Slowly

Slowly

 

Slowly

Walking out of the darkness, shrouded in a specific heaviness

I see rays of light so bright in their intensity

Heat sears my face and a fullness grows in my heart

One foot in front of the other, slowly

 

My back guards against all misdeeds

Eyes gazing towards absolution

Comfort in the mystery, seeded in the unknown

One foot in front of the other, slowly

 

With each passing day I make some progress

Inching closer to everything

Leaving behind nothing but my shadow

One foot in front of the other, slowly

 

I begin to shed layer upon layer

Seeking a blissful lightness

Butterfly wings emerging from a cocoon

One foot in front of the other, slowly

 

Sadness, sickness, loneliness and fear

Celebration, joy, tenderness and togetherness.

Every emotion under my skin makes an appearance

One foot in front of the other, slowly

 

Days change, seasons change, people in my life change

I continue to walk forward, bit by bit

Deliberately, thoughtfully, towards only myself

One foot in front of the other, slowly

 

At first I resist, frightened and scared

Now I press forward for me, no one else

Willingly, excited with possibilities

One foot in front of the other, slowly

 

Time passes, my heart beats with anticipation

Living each adventure as it comes and goes

Slowly, I surrender to the path and allow hope to sing

Peacefully, I take yet another step and take flight.

-Lavinia Busch

 

 

Why is it that the answers I seek always seem elusive?  In practice, the old adage one step forward, two steps back leaves me disillusioned and lost. To this end, I had a deeply emotional experience while walking a few days ago. Writing poetic verse in my head with each step, I simply could not stop the words and emotions from pouring out.  After having written a full piece and walking over five miles, I cried.  Not bitter tears of sadness but tears of a profound letting go.

 

Having an experience such as this, I often question what in my personal life may be out of sorts. Troubles I have pushed down into the depths of my psyche, afraid of what a closer analysis might reveal. I am also aware that it takes a combination of events to ruffle my feathers rather than just one. I may have personal things on my mind, professional matters that are pressing and family dynamics that are stressful.  It is never just as simple as one thing; I am far too complex for that.

 

Walking and writing, I was reminded that life is not a marathon but a sprint.  Anything that is troubling me will find its way to resolution. Whether a resolution of my liking or not, it will come nonetheless.  I need not always have the answers. On this particular day, walking up one of my favorite hills, I once again made the decision to let go and resigned myself to living in and accepting the unknown.  My tears were tears of relief, fear and anticipation welcoming the space between conflict and resolution, doubt and understanding, an uncomfortable place to be sure. In my case, discomfort is always a precursor to growth. Like it or not this has always proven to be true.

 

“It has taken me quite a few years to realize the fact that most of the thoughts in my head are not necessary.”

― Bert McCoy

 

I inherently know that my life will end.  Upon the moment of my death, I may find myself still befuddled and bewildered, caught in that space between.  With this knowledge, I alone am left with the choice to step off the treadmill of indecision and soar. The process of enlightenment can be laboriously slow. Each life event comes with a specific lesson and opportunity for growth. Some of these lessons arrive quietly without much notice while others are abrupt and painful in the unfolding. The only guarantee is that the lessons will continue to present, even when I have had enough and think I cannot bear another.

 

That day on the hill, I found a momentary sense of calm and serenity. Even though life is forever proving the security I crave to be elusive, I am okay. I know I will persist, carry on and live my life to the best of my ability. Everything around me may continue to swirl and flex but I can stand in the middle of this vortex and free myself from the outcome.  I can create a steady and secure environment regardless of what outside forces move against me and become stronger for having done so. With this momentary enlightenment, taking a deep and soulful breath, I smiled. Feeling the wind on my face, the sun shining down, I allowed my mind to be still. I reveled in this stillness, a peaceful surrender to all that is unknown and may remain so. Continuing to live in the mystery is one of my greatest challenges and at the same time a beautiful gift.

 

There is a Pleasure in the Pathless Woods

There is a Pleasure in the Pathless Woods

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
  There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
  There is society where none intrudes,
  By the deep Sea, and music in its roar:
  I love not Man the less, but Nature more,
  From these our interviews, in which I steal
  From all I may be, or have been before,
  To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can ne’er express, yet cannot all conceal

― George Gordon Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage

 

Reading George Byron’s piece, I was immediately struck by the opening line, “There is a pleasure in the pathless woods…” Byron was certainly a poet after my own heart. Life events can feel so contrived at times that one begins to forget what it means to experience things in a natural state. To walk in the woods without a path to guide the way, sit on a “lonely shore” and feel the breeze of the morning tide coming in.  Everything does not need to be analyzed, planned and accounted for. Nature is as it is, unpredictable.

 

Upon reflection, I see these words demonstrate the ebb and flow of parenting in many ways. As a young mother, having my daughter at 20 and my son at 24, I fought to provide a steady and stable environment for them. My every intention and action was made with their well being in mind. Sadly, being in a volatile relationship that was less than loving, I often over compensated for this lack by creating an “all is well” mentality. The problem was…all was not well and they knew it.

 

“Think for a minute, darling: in fairy tales it’s always the children who have the fine adventures. The mothers have to stay at home and wait for the children to fly in the window.”

― Audrey Niffenegger, The Time Traveler’s Wife

 

You see, children are smart, much smarter than given credit for. They see, hear and absorb their world more acutely than adults. They are sponges and while nothing need be said, they are observing and learning. I became racked with guilt and worried about my children’s development. At times I heard them share childhood memories and while most were idyllic, I heard a sprinkle of cringe worthy moments that gave me pause.  I began to ask myself, had I done enough? Had I given them everything that they required to move forward and be well functioning adults? I spent so much time during the children’s rocky teens and early adulthood questioning and wondering if I had really missed the mark as a parent.

 

“Having kids—the responsibility of rearing good, kind, ethical, responsible human beings—is the biggest job anyone can embark on.”

– Maria Shriver

 

Thankfully, having the benefit of time to reflect always puts things into greater perspective. The kids have had their foibles, as most will during painful periods of growth, but they are doing well. More importantly, they are two of the most loving and generous people I know. Character has always mattered to me and I am exceptionally proud that they possess strength of character and a genuine love for life. With many dark woods and rough seas left to encounter, this will serve them well.

 

As Byron states so well, parenting is inherently a “pathless wood” of uncertainty and trepidation, but one in which a parent must strive to continually find the beauty and grace in this uncertainty.  It never gets easier; a parent will always worry for their child. One never really knows how to raise another human being. It is more a stumbling along, a rocky ride begun with the best of intentions to guide young and impressionable minds. I have only ever wanted to “mingle with the Universe” to seek out the greater truths. As a parent, I make every attempt to share this wonder with my children by being the best example I can be. In the end this has to be enough.

 

“I believe the choice to become a mother is the choice to become one of the greatest spiritual teachers there is.”

– Oprah

 

Parenting is synonymous with nature: nurturing, protecting, and wildly unpredictable. Reading this poem on the eve of Mother’s Day I am moved to be kinder to myself. I can only be who I am, no more and no less. The rest is and has always been up to my children. They must broach the “pathless wood” with fear yet resolve. They must continue to weather the rough seas and seek the answers to the larger questions. I cannot do this for them or take ownership over the result. I can only love unconditionally and will continue to do so. I strive to be the lighthouse in the storm, the light shining through the trees of the dense forest. They will find their way forward and when they do I will be there, as always, with arms wide open.

 

The Importance of Solitude

The Importance of Solitude

My emotions move like the tides of the ocean and in any given day I feel these undulations manifesting in an often turbulent emotional landscape. Thankfully, I recognize that what I am usually feeling is an energy shift outside of myself. The uneasy feelings that follow me are not really of my own doing and may be a product of others worries, fears and anxiety.  It has taken many years to understand this by becoming more aware of the emotional temperature of my surroundings. One way in which I have learned to calm this energetic storm is by being quiet, retreating into that internal and private space that is mine and mine alone. When the energy is coming from external sources, this is the only way to find balance once again.

 

“If you’re lonely when you’re alone, you’re in bad company.”

~ Jean-Paul Sartre

 

To those around me, it may appear that I am a bit more quiet than usual.  This retreat does not mean hiding out in a room with the lights dimmed, but moving about my day in a more reserved fashion. I suspect if another is keyed into energy, they can sense that I am not my usual open and inviting self. As one going through this process, I often feel foggy and muted. I see the world happening around me, with little interest in the circumstance. It all seems very dreamlike and in this state my mind is sorting and analyzing many pieces of information while resting from all of the emotional static. I never know how long I will be in this place, and am just as surprised as the next when I suddenly shift back into the welcoming and friendly self that is my status quo.

 

“Writing is utter solitude, the descent into the cold abyss of oneself.”

~ Franz Kafka

 

Sitting quietly and finding some semblance of tranquility, going on a hike in nature, reading a good book or sitting on my back porch speeds up this process. I breathe deeply, let my body relax and let go.  I let go of what is not mine, the problems, the worries and the misgivings. I remind myself that they are not for me and I focus my intention on this letting go. Once I have done this, I feel much better, refreshed and somehow brighter.

 

“A little while alone in your room will prove more valuable than anything else that could ever be given you.”

~ Rumi

 

If I am with someone that does not understand my need for space, things can get dicey. When I require time to recharge and am not afforded it, I can sadly become moody or withdrawn, having have no way to release all of the external energy that I have been carrying. For this reason and many others, the importance of solitude for an introspective person cannot be stressed enough. If you have people in your life that require this time, give it to them. Don’t add additional stress to their life by setting limitations on this time. You will also find that by carving out some space for introspection, you may become more balanced and open as well. Not a bad tradeoff for some time alone.

 

Finding Purpose in Life

Finding Purpose in Life

Early today while stretching at the gym, I was suddenly struck by a feeling of inexplicable loneliness. Strange place to have this sensation surrounded by so many others, but not completely unheard of. I have always felt a tinge of loneliness even amongst good company. As an observer I am still surprised that I experience life from an outsider’s perspective so often, watching events unfold from an arm’s length away. Not quite close enough to be immersed in a tangible way, but close enough to play a role as if an actor in a play. It is in this state of separateness that I do my most intense thinking.  It creates space for an unaffected view, devoid of emotions that are my constant companion. In this state I am standing outside of myself, watching, thinking and interpreting all that comes my way. This disassociation can be strange and in truth, unsettling.  Without all of the usual distractions of participation, I am forced to see things as they really are. One cannot hide from the truth very long; it will always find its way forward.

 

We shall not cease from exploration.

And the end of all our exploring,

Will be to arrive where we started,

And know the place for the first time.

T.S. Elliot

 

Today my mind wandered to things I view as unfulfilled in my life, the “why me” dialogue that many of us are so familiar with. Why did I stay in a damaging relationship for so long, why do I have to deal with this awful disease, why, why, why. After hearing this and gently letting the thoughts go, I was struck with the idea of my life really being a vessel for compassion. Maybe my life is really not about my personal journey at all. Maybe it is about every single person I encounter, who I chose to love, listen and learn from. Maybe a good life can only be measured in the moments of connection, when I am able to bring some comfort to another even if only for an instant. If this should be the case, all of the little details of my life become so trivial. Where I work, what I like to do, etc. Maybe it is these very details in which one can get bogged down and lost, going astray and losing sight of the bigger picture while focusing on the minutia of an obligation or goal. Maybe I am completely off the mark by dwelling on the specifics of my life.

 

I tore myself away

from the safe comfort of certainties

through my love of truth;

and truth rewarded me

—Simone de Beauvoir

 

I understand this may sound foreign to others, but as I see it, this exploration is the most important task that I have. If my life only becomes purposeful in the moments in which I have made an effort to help others, any other use of energy is a distraction from this end. Living by this definition, I may not “feel” my own life experiences in the way others do.  I absolutely feel things and very intensely, but am never more at peace than when I have opened up to another and have created some semblance of connection. My feelings of separateness dissipate and for just a bit I am alive and no longer just an actor in my own life. It may be that because I internalize what others are feeling, my perception of any particular moment is clouded by the others feelings.  At times it is even difficult to discern which emotions are my own given the crossover between myself and another.

 
Reflecting on these thoughts, I came to the conclusion that there are far worst things to be said about a life than aiming to put others at ease.  I may not have the high powered job or the big house on the hill, but I can offer comfort and love to another. Letting go of pathways that lead me away from this end becomes the challenge. It is so easy to be swept up in the “need to succeed” mentality. When all is said and done, all I can do is follow my heart. If there is anything that I know to be true, it is that the heart speaks in mysterious ways. If I choose to listen for this direction, I will find my way forward in due time.

The Invitation

The Invitation

The Invitation

It doesn’t interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me
how old you are.
I want to know
if you will risk
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me
what planets are
squaring your moon…
I want to know
if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened
by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know
if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations
of being human.

It doesn’t interest me
if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know
if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
“Yes.”

It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me
where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know
what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know
if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments.

By Oriah © Mountain Dreaming,
from the book The Invitation
published by HarperONE, San Francisco,
1999 All rights reserved

 

As poems go, this one strikes a chord. As one drawn by the heart and soul of another, I find societies emphasis on all else tiring. I am not deceived by this costume or covering worn in an attempt to appear familiar to many and foreign to few.  I can be in the same space with another and see they are putting on errs, hiding pain, sadness, frustration. Oriah speaks to this with “if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without, moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it.” It makes people so uncomfortable to be face to face with another’s pain let alone their own.  We are taught that we must tough it out, be strong, never let anyone see us in a state of weakness. My initial inclination is always fixing the problem. I try to fight this urge by using deep listening as my response instead.

 

I am also deeply touched by the lines, “I want to know if you can, disappoint another, to be true to yourself. If you can bear, the accusation of betrayal, and not betray your own Soul.” Coming from a very traditional home in which being highly goal oriented was valued, I found myself lost between expectations I thought my parents held and my own desires and creative urges. I was academic and could have been a doctor, lawyer or CEO. Instead I was draw to the arts, the ethereal and aesthetic qualities of movement and writing. It has taken me much reflection to be at ease with this contradiction. I know my family loves me, but my passions are not viewed as a contribution in quite the same way as more traditional work.

 

Finally, I see myself in the last stanza. “I want to know, if you can be alone, with yourself, and if you truly like, the company you keep, in the empty moments.” My best friend is myself. Strange as it may sound, I enjoy my own company. I like to be lost in thought, listening to music with no distraction. I am definitely not a recluse, but I do pull energy from moments of solitude. When I find that same quality in another, knowing we can be alone together sitting in the same room while deeply immersed in something that speaks to me, I am overjoyed. It is this type of person that I am drawn to; a person that knows when to provide space for quiet and when to meet me at the gates of my solitude, drawing me out into the world to play and explore once again.