Truth /tro͞oTH/ That which is true or in accordance with fact or reality.
"The stories we tell literally make the world. If you want to change the world, you need to change your story. This truth applies both to individuals and institutions." ~ Michael Margolis
Stories teach me in the most unlikely ways. I love to hear the stories that people tell, it gives me so much insight on where they are in their life, what they truly desire, and the hurts they hold that haunt them. I've told lots of stories about myself, some were true, some I thought were true, some I just plain wanted to be true. I respect the truth much more these days, even if it isn't pretty, and even if I don't always like facing it. I've found freedom in truth, I've found release in letting the old stories that no longer serve me bleed free from my shadow, I've found peace.
Truth can be scary, no, it can be terrifying. It can rip you apart from the inside out and make you feel like you'll never be put back together again. This is beautiful, this ripping, this coming undone at the seams. It's destructively elegant, falling to ruin, creating a life of dream from ash. The ethereal life, raised from the mists of disaster, fully realized in the vulnerable embrace of true surrender to all of life's experiences. To me, this is the journey of a life well-lived.
“There is only one cause of unhappiness: the false beliefs you have in your head, beliefs so widespread, so commonly held, that it never occurs to you to question them." ~ Anthony de Mello
The stories we choose to tell ourselves and others shape our perceptions, they shape the way we see the world and those in it, they shape us. The stories we are told by those that we trust to tell us the truth can be just as powerful. We rise to unthinkable heights when a loved one believes in us, we fabricate lies to protect an abuser and eventually begin to believe the stories we tell, we all tell stories, and, deep down we're all very similar, we all love to believe. There is great power in stories, the question is how we will choose to wield this power. What stories will we choose to tell?
I choose the raw and uncomfortable truths. The real stories. Lies, no matter how momentarily comforting, always bring a fleeting hope and an aching pain. Lies and half truths feed us false beliefs. It is the widespread dissemination of false beliefs that eats away at the colorful and diverse cultural fabric of society. Ignorance is subversive, often masked as truth, we are spoon fed beliefs from a broken system, and we are so successfully conditioned that we never think to question the storytellers. We want the truth, but we're also painstakingly mortified that it might one day find us.
"The word 'why' not only taught me to ask, but also to think. And thinking has never hurt anyone. On the contrary, it does us all a world of good." ~ Anne Frank
Dichotomy, something I have had to get very comfortable with in this life. The more people that I come into contact with in life the more I realize how surprisingly similar and vastly different we all truly are. The fallacy of the assumption on identical universal experience and the truth that we all share a great number of similarities, always keeps me on my toes, guessing.
I make assumptions all the time, without realizing, without thinking. I was talking with my very close friend on the phone the other day and we were discussing something as insignificant and meaningless as a hashtag, #vibetribe. This of course, (because this is what happens when you surround yourself with intellectuals and conscious minded people), turned into a wonderful discussion on education, compassion, conditioning, and the nature of assumptions. You see, my friend wasn't fond of the term tribe, she preferred to use the word community. I on the other hand, love the word tribe, finding it much more meaningful, symbolically. I asked my friend why she wasn't a fan of the word tribe and she honestly responded, saying that it reminded her of aggression because of how she had been taught about the native peoples of this country in school. I've held the strong belief that we are often subtly conditioned, throughout our lives, without being given a choice in the matter. It's mostly a passive act on our part, we're born, and the world around us imprints the socially agreed upon conditions within us. It's such an artful process, we hardly even notice its effects, that is, until moments like this.
As a student, getting my MA in teaching and completing my student teaching in a 11th grade US History class at a local high school, I found this absolutely captivating. I had ignorantly assumed that all children learned about US history the way that I had. This is the true power of conditioning, so subtle, we hardly realize it's there. It is only when truth stares us back in the face, steady, unflinching, that we are able to reconcile the errors of our past and progress forward into the future, with our eyes wide open.
I was homeschooled, often teaching myself because of absentee parental involvement. I self instructed and turned in packets to a charter teacher, who would in turn hand them to the state every couple weeks. I learned through lots of reading, both textbook and supplemental. I read a book on Columbus when I was about 9 years old and I remember meeting with Janet, my charter teacher, to turn in my book report. I told her I was sorry, but I couldn't agree that Columbus was a good man, he tortured, hung, enslaved, and dismembered natives. I couldn't admire a man like that, I asked why she would have me read something so terrible. I was confused then, shocked by the truth that stood in stark contrast to the lies I had been told by the society I lived in, I'm grateful now.
My mother came from a small town near Monreal in Quebec, Canada. When she was in good spirits she would tell lovely stories of the native tribes in the area, of their wisdom, of their healing, of their respect for life and all of nature. She told me of how their land had been taken from them, quite easily, but not without bloodshed. "You see", she said, "the tribes respected the land, they never saw it as belonging to them, they were one with it, they were in love, belonging to each other." My mother always warned me to be careful what I believed, to question everyone, and everything, even if the information came from what I thought to be a trustworthy source. Growing up, this was the story I had been told, and I failed to see, at the time, the impact this would have on the remainder of my life. My mother wasn't a perfect mother, but this she did well, anybody who knows me, knows that I ceaselessly question all, even that that I believe in.
“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” ~ George Orwell
In my study of history I have found that the truth depends on which side it's being told from, and in case you need a refresher on the definition of truth, scroll back up to the top of this blog, I hate to break it to ya, that ain't the definition. The truth is based on reality, on facts, it should not be subjective. In one of the texts for my program, titled: "Teaching What Really Happened: How to Avoid the Tyranny of Textbooks and Get Students Excited About Doing History" the author James. W. Loewen discusses the case, Loewen et al. v. Turnipseed et al., where he sued the textbook board in Mississippi in federal court, for banning history textbooks that told the truth about the atrocities inflicted upon African Americans. He won the case, but he goes on to say that Mississippi was not an isolated incident, textbooks often choose to alter history, to sugarcoat it and make it much more pleasant for the mainstream view to swallow. Maybe they're scared that if we knew the truth we'd abandon our patriotism. Wasn't this country founded on freedom? Shouldn't we get to decide how we feel once we're presented with the facts, reality, the truth? Isn't that our right?
I think this is an important lesson, not just in history, but throughout life. It is when we try to protect ourselves from facing the realities in life that we hinder our progress. We are all conditioned, I continue to learn of my own conditioning regularly, I witness the ways in which life and all I have encountered, have shaped me. The truth, the facts, the reality, the options that offer us the gift of learning, in facing our mistakes of the past. This is just one of the things that I love. So I ask you, how do we want to shape the future? What stories will we choose to tell? I hope we choose the truthful ones.
"The mistakes that you made in that game. You have to do the hard stuff. And watch that game. And study that game. To not make those mistakes over and over and over again. Just because you weren't brave enough to face it. You gotta deal with it. Face it. Learn from it. It sucks, but you don't want to have that feeling again, do you? Right, so you gotta really study it and face it. Not to say you'll win the next time, but at least you'll give yourself a better chance." ~ Kobe Bryant
Who would have thought? Kobe dropping truth bombs on our consciousness. Apparently his quotes apply to basketball, history, social conditioning, assumptions, and life in general. As I've said, this world never ceases to amaze me.
“…loneliness – that terrible loneliness, in which one shivering consciousness looks over the rim of the world into the cold, unfathomable, lifeless abyss.” ~ Lord Bertrand Russell
I feel it’s panging. I’m happier than I have ever been and yet, I still feel it’s panging, maybe it will never go away. The loneliness. Maybe that’s part of the price we pay for the evolution of universal consciousness. The necessity of the illusion of separation, the illusion of the ego and the consequence of such an ensnaring hallucination. We’re allowed glimpses of union with the Divine but we’re never allowed to stay there. It’s a challenge, the balance… walking the fine line of living.
In moments of loneliness it’s important to feel it, to feel it and let it pass. To feel it, but never stay there. Everything is impermanent. I struggle there. To not hold on, to let it pass, to release it – this is a skill, one I have yet to master. Maybe without this illusory separation we wouldn’t search, and thus we wouldn’t evolve. Writing helps me to question, to clarify my ever expanding inquisition into the nature of reality, and the life I find myself in. It helps me in making sense of the life that is moving in perpetual motion, all around me.
“That is why I write – to try to turn sadness into longing, solitude into remembrance.” ~ Paulo Coelho
If we were in constant union with the Divine, why would we go anywhere else? Would we not just stay, for all of infinite eternity? Would we not just resort to complacency? It is this unfillable loneliness that keeps us searching and I think it is the process of acknowledging its unending presence that may show we are on the path towards true surrender and acceptance. Isn’t it avoiding this loneliness and trying to fill it, that gets us so lost in the first place? Isn’t it this running?
I understand the pain that precedes acceptance, I have lived in the fear, just before the relief of ultimate surrender. I have a new appreciation for writers and artists who say they create their masterpieces because they have to. It’s the only way I find comfort in the soothing of my pain and loneliness – the only comfort I find that hasn’t allowed me, or ever tempted me, to join the madness of the loss of self. Writing is me, speaking to myself, reminding me that I will never be alone, yet as this world so dichotomously exists and mysteriously works, I will always be alone in my experience. Therein lies the contradicting beauty of life.
“Any writer worth his salt writes to please himself… It’s a self-exploratory operation that is endless. An exorcism of not necessarily his demon, but of his divine discontent.” ~ Harper Lee
Divine discontent. Mmmhhh. It knocks the wind right out of me, the only way truth knows how to hit, fierce and fearlessly. The loneliness subsides when I reach out and touch it. When I begin to do something of purpose. I write because I have to. I write because it is the only way in which I have come to know myself. I write because it allows me to touch my pain, to visit my wounds, and to feel my loneliness, without losing myself in it. I write because pushing aside this human condition of unshakeable emptiness can only be soothed by divine intervention. For me, writing is that intervention. Writing gave me time and space, it never forced anything out of me, it couldn’t. Even when I tried to force it, writing never let me. It was a flow, mind to body, body to pen, pen to paper. It’s a form of being, a form of meditative dance. Recalling my thoughts and emotions with a new presence, letting them pass through me. Writing was a friend that heard the poison and let it out of me, before it consumed me and had the chance to spread, to grow. Writing taught me compassion, forgiveness, love. It gave me space not only figuratively, without placing the weight of guilt on me, never questioning how long I would be gone; but physically, by offering me a space to grieve, or joy, or feel, or just simply not know and write.
“Write hard and clear about what hurts.” ~ Ernest Hemingway
This. This speaks to me, because it is in the hurt, in the midst of this pain that I write the truth of the sorrows and wonders of existence and the ethereal beauty of life. It is in the soothing of that loneliness that the Divine speaks to me. It is in the the freedom of expression, the flow of thought, and the release of the pressure that often builds in my brain. It is in this condition of creative flow, the extravagant nature of the words that somehow fill the page, without my being able to claim ownership over them. It is there, that I find myself, that I find my voice for painful authenticity.
I write because it has always been there for me. It has always given me so much, and asked for so little in return. It has given me the gift of life, the gift of myself, and it has given me the gift of bringing this awareness back to me. It never asked for my dedication or commitment when I wasn’t ready to give it. It brought me comfort when I was sure there was none to be had and it brought me the gift of company, when I felt lost and lonely. It offered solace, a place to rest my tired eyes and weary head, when all I had to offer were my own words in friendship. It challenged me, but only as much as I was ready to be challenged. It never pushed me away and understood when I needed a break from the weight of its verity. You see, writing only ever asked for one commitment from me – it asked for truth, and truth, I wasn’t always ready to give. Writing was good to me, always understanding, patiently waiting for my return, no matter how far I wandered.
“Writing eases my suffering… writing is my way of reaffirming my own existence.” ~ Gao Xingjian
I used to fill my notebooks with my pain, tear out the pages so nobody would ever accidentally find them and see the truth of my life, the truth I tried so desperately to hide. I would burn them, erase the memories from my existence, hoping one day I could forget. I planned to rewrite these old stories and start my life anew. I would write when the pain became too much, when it seemed there was nothing left to do but write. I wrote because I had to, because my other options left me drowning without the hope for one last breath. I wrote for survival, I wrote for freedom, and I continue to write for these reasons, blessed by the collaborative commitment to sincerity.
I write because the pages never judge me, not for loving those who hurt me, not for spilling all my shame, not for sharing all my secrets, not for almost breaking – I write because it never tried to save me. I write because it’s never tried to make me choose between my love and my freedom, it never threatened my independence and the will of my free spirit. I write because it never punishes me for my mistakes or belittles me for my lofty ideas and less than perfect grammar. I write because it meets me in my sorrow, reminds me of my power, and leads me to my strength. Writing is my gift to myself. It is in sharing our gifts with the world that true healing can occur, and so I write because I don’t know what else to do, and I desperately crave my own healing. I write to remember who I was and who I am, and to understand the gap between the two.
I write because it soothes, it breaks me open in all the right places and allows me moments to touch my pain. I write because it reminds me to never get lost in the notion that I will ever be free from my wounds, and it is in this realization that I am truly released from the shackles of my own mind. In never trying to save me, writing always gives new breath to old life, and renews my spirit. Acceptance comes to sit with me and avoidance leaves my bedside. I write because while it may be critiqued by others, as long as I follow specific parameters, nobody could never tell me what to write.
“Why am I compelled to write?… Because the world I create in the writing compensates for what the real world does not give me. By writing I put order in the world, give it a handle so I can grasp it. I write because life does not appease my appetites and anger… To become more intimate with myself and you. To discover myself, to preserve myself, to make myself, to achieve self-autonomy. To dispel the myths that I am a mad prophet or a poor suffering soul. To convince myself that I am worthy and that what I have to say is not a pile of shit… Finally I write because I’m scared of writing, but I’m more scared of not writing.” ~ Gloria E. Anzaldúa
I write because it bridges my worlds, the ethereal and spiritual become physical, when I put pen to paper. I write because as I touch the pages I touch my soul; with each motion of the pen my chains are broken. I write for my sanity, because existing in this world is tough enough and living in it is bound to make you go insane. I write to remind myself that I will never be like them, that I will never be known or understood and I write to remember that’s perfectly okay. I write to understand myself, and I write to remember that mindful self-acceptance is a practice of self-love and care, and that is enough for me.
I write because it relieves the darkness in me and allows me to not be overcome with sadness. It relieves the pain that will never leave me, for I am a healer and the best healers remain wounded. I write because it has never dismissed me for speaking the truth, even when it wasn’t exactly what it wanted to hear in that moment – writing has always been faithful and has honored our lifelong agreement, a commitment to truth.
Writing gave to me, and so, I write because I have to… because giving back to the only thing that has continually given me a remembrance of my reverence for life, deserves all of me. Writing consumes me and never spits me out. Writing hears, feels, sits, and gently takes my hand, whispering to me: “remember who you are…remember. No one passes the gateless gate, so be no one, or say ‘fuck it’ and be anybody you want to be.” I write for me.
“Why one writes is a question I can answer easily, having so often asked it of myself. I believe one writes because one has to create a world in which one can live. I could not live in any of the worlds offered to me – the world of my parents, the world of war, the world of politics. I had to create a world of my own, like a climate, a country, an atmosphere in which I could breathe, reign, and recreate myself when destroyed by living. That, I believe, is the reason for every work of art.” ~ Anaïs Nin
I write to make sense of the world, to make sense of my thoughts, to make sense of me, and to make sense of my place in the mess of it all. I write because it transcends thinking, the words flow through my finger tips as if they are finally coming home, familiar, belonging. I write to love myself, to go within and love all of me, because grasping out there taught me lots of valuable lessons, but never did me any favors.
I write because I am all I will always have, and because in writing I realize the beauty in that statement – the beauty and truth that transcends the sadness at the thought of such a lonely path. It is in writing that I feel the palpable truth of life, that I feel whole, that I feel complete. I can never give that up, it is all I have ever longed for. It is writing that always takes me home, back to me, back to my freedom. I truly write, for me.
“A person is a fool to become a writer. His only compensation is absolute freedom. He has no master except his own soul, and that, I am sure, is why he does it.” ~ Roald Dahl
Thank you for reading, the original article can be found on my favorite publication, here: https://www.elephantjournal.com/2018/12/why-do-i-write-literature-a-love-letter/
"The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry." ~ Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms
"There's a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in." ~ Leonard Cohen
To make my life narrative a very dramatic and long story short: I had to experience a lot of people showing me that they weren't properly prepared to love me well, for me to awaken and accept that my path would always be a different one. It took repeated cycles, pain, my choice to suffer, and innumerable lessons. It took clear instances of my being shown through experience how those broken on the wheels of life often resort to hurting another. It took my being told, by those lost and separated from their own divinity by the veil of illusion, that I wasn't worthy of love. It took that. All of it, for me to find my place amongst my hearts longings, and in it's midst, to remain grateful.
I of course believed the story of my lack of lovability, I agreed with it. Within myself I found it to be true. So through my life's experience at that time, I kept finding those who would prove it to be true. Those who would agree with the horrors in my mind, those who would believe the lies I had been fed. I attracted those who would confirm the story I had already been telling myself, and in this confirmation I felt familiarity and comfort. The self-fulfilling prophecy was well and alive in my life, feeding me shadows and illusion and leaving me feeling broken, desperate, and hungry. It took somebody looking me in the face, emotionless, telling me they couldn't love me. It took somebody I loved, somebody I admired and respected... it took this one, not the person I expected, but of course the right one for the job. It took this perfect situation, this terribly ideal heartbreak. It took him. It took the words, said without feeling or hesitation, without compassion or regret, telling me that he didn't love me. It took this. This is what was necessary for me to recognize the patterns in my life, for me to come to my senses, for me to comprehend the totality of what the fuck I had been doing to myself.
"Upon the dark road you are traveling, do not seek out the light, the illusion, the fallacy and incessant need for all things external. Have no fear, take the darkness as your comfort because you are the light shining in the dark." ~ LJ Vanier, Ether: Into the Nemesis
It took lots of pain for me, it took decades of darkness. They say everybody goes through their dark night of the soul... but I lived there... for me it was home. It took decades of my staying there for me to realize that I had been asking all the wrong questions. Why didn't they love me? Irrelevant. Ego based. Illusion. They couldn't love me. They never loved themselves. Thus, while I acted like I loved truly, and believed it, I had become terribly good at projecting the lies of this illusion I had so willingly bought. I had learned to become clever at avoiding my inability to love myself, so well in fact that I was able to hide it, even from me. Soon I was violently shaken by life's inevitable turmoils and I was suddenly faced with the realization that my lack of self love and violent self-doubt, walks lovingly, hand-in-hand with an inability to fully accept, and truly love another. I never loved myself. How could I expect another to love me? I didn't know what that would look like. That's why I was there, trying to convince somebody who could never truly love me that I was worthy... all a contrived subconscious trick to feed the ego, in hopes of temporarily satiating its thirst, so that it would momentarily feel whole in the illusion of worldly, outside-myself-love. I never asked myself what made me worthy of love, what made me worthy of my loving me? I never took the time to feel, and grieve, and mourn. To feel my pain, fully, to fall to my knees in despair at dusk, only to awaken at the start of a new day and understand that it is my existing, my simply being, that makes me worthy of all the love in the world... including and ESPECIALLY my own.
"Perhaps we should love ourselves so fiercely, that when others see us they know exactly how it should be done." ~ Rudy Francisco
The story doesn't necessarily matter. The ins and the outs. I remember the story, and I remember it well. It is my gift in being grounded in the world. My wounds offer me the ability to remind people that they can find their way out of the shackles of their subconscious programming. They hold the power necessary to reconnect with their most trusted and oldest friend, their highest, most connected selves. We hold the ultimate power in our own lives, we can liberate ourselves from the madness. It is only when we choose to walk ourselves out of the dark and lonely cave, it is only when we choose to walk into the light. It helps to have support, it helps to have somebody who understands, somebody who has been through it, it helps to have a connected soul to guide us on the journey. However, it still remains our journey, we cannot be carried, it is up to us to take the steps for ourselves. It is up to us, individually, because on the other side of the illusory veil of fear lies your unremitting freedom.
"It has been said that time heals all wounds. I don't agree. The wounds remain. Time - the mind, protecting its sanity - covers them with some scar tissue and the pain lessens, but it is never gone." ~ Rose Kennedy
I remember my wounds, I tend them daily, I keep them open... uninfected and cleaned. Tended, but open. So that when a friend tells me that she finds her heart shattered by the man she loves and finds it hard to pick her pieces up off the bathroom floor... I remember. I was there yesterday. I'll visit again today. I bring fresh flowers to the graves of my old lives and thank them for the gifts they offered me in our time together. I feel the ache in my chest where it becomes clear once again why they call it heartbreak. My chest yearns to be filled with anything, anything that will help me forget, forget the hole that is left, in the place that used to be occupied by my beating heart. The feeling where your chest aches in pain as if your heart has literally been broken beneath the ribs of your outwardly in tact chest. The throb of loss, the ache of heartbreak, the emptiness. I take a moment to breathe it in and remember that I am comfortable and safe here. I no longer need to run from this feeling. I welcome it. In its knee breaking totality, I surrender myself to its pleading.
When she asks me if I cried like this, like she is now, I am able to softly tell her, with a gentle confidence in my voice, "I did, and it felt like it would never end... but it does... it does end." I know it well, and it is because I am comfortable and safe knowing it well. It is because I accept it and no longer run from it or grasp to change it, or fix it, or heal it. It is in befriending my heartache that I am able to keep my composer and appreciate the beauty in the moment, as my heart relates to hers through the blessings of experience and understanding. I see her, without judgment, because how can I judge a place that I have been? A place I visit often. It is in these moments that I am grateful for my remembering, for my holding these memories close to me. These memories of my lostness in the world and the suffering I endured as a result.
"become intimate with your fears. listen to them. sit cross legged. give them your undivided attention. offer them comfort. offer them rest." ~ Nayyirah Waheed
I suffer less now. I still feel pain. I feel it more completely. I let it take me, wherever it so desires. I let it have me, without fight. I feel it fully when it visits me, without asking it to leave. I thank my pain, I ask it to stay. To sit with me, for just a few moments longer. I feel my longing before I part with it, that piece of myself that is merely illusion. Yet it brings my physical mind some comfort in knowing that it still remains. In remembering my pain, in being visited by my demons, I am reminded of how I am not at all the same, and yet I remain. I am reminded that it is my consciousness that continues to experience. That I am a spiritual being having a human experience. That I have always been the observer. The witness. This pain sits with me, never touching me. She sits cross legged in front of me, loving me with the understanding and sadness that fills her familiar brown eyes. It is in this moment that I am reminded of my humanness. I am reminded of my attachments. But I, in this instant, am also simultaneously reminded of my freedom and the parts of me that remain unscathed and unchanged. I am reminded of my soul. It is in these moments I am visited by my demons of the world and reminded of the love of this universe... which is one with my true divine nature. The collapse of my duality, the implosion of my awareness through this experience. The incessant bleeding of my human existence collapsing into stardust. In a flash, in a moment, it is gone.The bones of my past keep my longing company, before returning to the graveyard where they await their fresh flowers.
"The phoenix hope, can wing her way through the desert skies, and still defying fortune's spite; revive from ashes and rise." ~ Miguel de Cervantes
Those of us, the lucky ones, strong enough to blaze a path through our heartbreak, always come out the other side. Leaving ash in our wake we shed our skin like a snake, and let it burn with the stories of our past. We sweep out the cobwebs of the people we've been, and the lives we've lived, all that no longer serve us. We gather our courage and weave new webs of light to better suit our higher calling. The journey isn't easy, choosing to step into challenge and discomfort every step of the way is painful and scary. But your time in the fire pales compared to the pain of living a life that is not meant for you. It is us, who make it out of the fire and find our freedom, that then have the tools to go back into the fire, to burn once more and help our brothers and sisters find their way. The fire cleanses us, it frees us from the shackles of our subconscious story, it gives us the fresh slate we need to carve our new life. Like the Phoenix, we rise from the ash reborn. We all have heartbreak, life has a way of breaking us wide open, leaving us with a choice: to heal and soften to the wonder of the world, or, to build a wall and close ourselves off from the ecstasies of true connection. The various ways in which life breaks us all, is part of what reminds us of our humanness and offers us comforting visions of the beautiful vulnerability of our true humanity.
"This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all! Even if they are a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still treat each guest honorably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes. because each has been sent as a guide from beyond." ~ Rumi
So it is here that I leave you, hoping to have helped you feel something. Hoping that you are able to take something from these words of truth. Be gentle with yourself, be kind to yourself, give yourself the gifts of feeling.
"One of the greatest things about science is it's assumption that what it thinks it knows today will probably be proven wrong tomorrow. The theories of yesterday have served as platforms to climb higher, as Sir Isaac Newton meant when he said, 'If I have been privileged to see farther than others, it's because I stood on the shoulders of giants.'" ~ What The Bleep Do We Know
We're often so used to operating from our subconscious mind and moving through life on autopilot that we neglect to pay attention to our ubiquitous assumptions. We tally up observations about the things we've done and the people we've been, and we use these to form arbitrary beliefs about ourselves and others. We judge people we know for doing certain things, judge ourselves for doing the same, judge that others must be judging us for this... and the insanity continues. With complete disregard for scientific inquiry we often hold these assumptions to be true for the duration of our physical existence on this planet.
While it might sound like a nice idea to simply cast our assumptions and judgments aside, this is an unreasonable task. We will never be entirely free of judgment, just as we will never be entirely free of the egoic mind. Judgment can provide an intuitive purpose and offers a protective function to the self-preserving nature of the ego. Judgments are there for survival, to serve as defense mechanisms; it is in bringing awareness to our defenses that we are able to harness our power, willfully choosing our thoughts, words, and subsequent actions. What if? Rather than casting our assumptions aside, we took a page from Sir Isaac Newton's figurative book and became our own giants, standing on the shoulders of our previous identities. Don't we all have that supreme power? The power to be our greatest heroes and our most threatening foes?
I was speaking with somebody several weeks ago regarding his incredible physical transformation in health and the mental hurdles he overcame in the process. I had asked him what had made the difference. When had he decided he had enough? When did he first have the realization that he had a choice in the circumstances he accepted in his life? When did he first feel the sides of his mouth begin to curl upward into a subtle smirk at the thought of his transformation? His response to me was both familiar and surprising. It was simple, logical, and somewhat counterintuitive, I could relate.
He felt comfortable stepping into his TRUE self when he had moved for a job, to a place where he knew absolutely nobody. What shocked me about his statement was the sudden realization that it sparked within me. There wasn't anything tangibly real that had been holding him back. It wasn't the place he moved to that gave him the freedom to be himself, it was the LOSS of the place he had been in previously, the people he had been surrounded by, the continual reminders of who he had been. We (professionals) in the wellness and medical field place huge emphasis on having a support system in place when making drastic life changes. Moving for a job away from friends and family and simultaneously deciding to make incredibly challenging life changes (both mentally and physically) sounds inordinate. Yet, I completely understand the inclination. On a completely human level, I get it. It's a highly valuable lesson to learn that you can often be your greatest support system.
"One story sounds good until another is told." ~ Aesop
It took him being away from everyone for him to realize how the assumptions in his environment (physical, social, etc.) had impacted his personal choices. He had succumb, as we frequently do, to the theory of the looking-glass-self and the ideology that we are who people say we are. His thoughts and beliefs about himself were in agreement with the thoughts and beliefs others displayed towards him. As Charles Horton Cooley says: "I imagine your mind, and especially what your mind thinks about my mind, and what your mind thinks about what my mind thinks about your mind." It wasn't until he was in a new place, where nobody knew who he had been, that he suddenly felt the freedom to become who he really wanted to be.
We hold a lot of assumptions and judgments regarding our own identities. We like to label things neatly and put them into boxes, people included. Sometimes we allow our established masks (even if we no longer connect with them) to shackle us to the empty shell of our past lives, hindering our personal growth and further development. There is great power and freedom in losing the reminders of all the identities you have previously embodied. It is clear that in this process of self-forgetting we move on from who we have been and into who we are meant to be. After all it is often change that brings about the chance for new opportunity. So let's throw off those masks, run towards change, and take a giant leap outside of our proverbial comfort zone.
"No matter who you are, no matter what you did, no matter where you've come from, you can always change, become a better version of yourself." ~ Madonna
I have personally experienced this freedom as I have recreated myself more times than I can count. I have changed through every friendship, relationship, breakup, job, educational experience, and self-perpetuating pattern in my life. I lost bits of myself in every situation I participated in that didn't resonate with my higher calling. The beautiful thing about life is that it is also in these places that I discovered my own divinity, and ultimately found myself in the process. It is always safe to come home to your true self, no matter how much time you've spent away. There are so many things in my life that I am grateful to have experienced and entirely elated to have moved on from. New places can sometimes give us the freedom and confidence to have the courage to be someone we've never been before.
"Why do we keep recreating the same reality? Why do we keep having the same relationships? Why do we keep getting the same jobs over and over again? In this infinite sea of potentials that exist around us, how come we keep recreating the same realities?" ~ Dr. Joe Dispenza
I encourage you to own your story, leave the pieces of yourself you've lost behind, and start gathering the new pieces you find. Come home to yourself. Be a scientist in your own life and employ the belief that what you assume about yourself today will in all likelihood be proven wrong tomorrow. Take note of the assumptions held by those you surround yourself with and bring awareness to your own judgments. These can serve as the mountains you struggle to climb or the giants whose shoulders can take you to new heights in your life, the choice is yours. Encourage yourself, support yourself, by God reach out to me if I can be of any service, or reach out to those you love if you need a helping hand. Stand on the shoulders of giants to see farther than you ever have before. Recreate yourself, again, and again, and then once more, and become the person YOU decide you want to be. There's a certain freedom to be found in losing yourself in the woods of self-discovery and finding your creative power, coming out the other side a totally new YOU. We are all in this together.
"Life is simple. Everything happens for you, not to you. Everything happens at exactly the right moment, neither too soon nor too late. You don't have to like it.... It's just easier if you do." ~ Byron Katie
Life will continue to happen around us and within us, whether we participate actively or not. The debate on free will rears its head here as we have a choice in the ways in which we participate in life. The only constant in life is that nothing is constant, or as Heraclitus (one of the Greek philosophers) eloquently puts it: "Change is the only constant in life." The oxymoronic nature of this reminds us that we are surrounded by dichotomy in life. We are often pointed in a direction we don't much like, guided to practice the one thing we can battle our entire lives, acceptance. It is because of this denial and rebellion towards acceptance that we suffer. We stubbornly continue on, strangling life under the grip of our neurotic control, breaking ourselves into pieces in the process; and yet, in this coming undone life insists on offering us the choice to accept the beautiful gift of peace, surrender.
"Our suffering comes from our attachment to people and things, our repeated attempts to find something lasting where there is nothing lasting to be found." ~ Philip Martin
Are we not living in absolute insanity? Isn't the social construct in which we choose to structure our entire lives built around the intangible and unrealistic hope that we will one day be "safe" from the ever-changing perils of this world? Why do we chase stability? When there is none to be had. Please do not get me wrong and twist my words to justify staying in an unhealthily unstable relationship, or use this as a justification or excuse to give up on searching for the truth you so desperately seek. The truth is out there, and by out there I totally mean solely within yourself, so please, keep searching. I am merely suggesting that we may be searching for the wrong thing in entirely all the wrong places.
If life is a beautiful display of uncertainty, then why do we refuse to accept and surrender to the cascading improvisation? Why are we so fanatically determined to control it in all it's simple complexity? Why must we manipulate it to our liking? Is it not our attachment to outcomes we determined to be "valuable" that keeps us locked in our neuroses? Maniacal and grasping for any sense of control and power over our own lives. Society told us to value stability, to value a predictable and transfixed future. We were trained to think that all of life revolves around us, that we'll be "safe" as long as we don't break pattern and venture too far from the herd.
Ironically, it is this flawed and illogical perception that we can control everything that keeps us trapped in this insanity; confined to our own ordinary existence. It is the embrace of ultimate surrender, facing ourselves and removing the mask of character, that liberates us from the confines of our biological plane of bone and blood. It is in accepting that we ultimately have no direct sovereignty over the world and those in it that we are given real power in our lives. Creativity and choice offer us the power to choose how we act and react in the situations life presents us.
"Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced." ~ Soren Kierkegaard
It is in the act of tapping in to the flow of life that we find our freedom. Letting each and every experience, regardless of whether we perceive them to be "good" or "bad," (as this will be dictated as we prescribe judgment according to our conditioned perceptions), pass through us, moment by moment, fully felt and fully released. It is how we see life and how we experience its vastness and wondrous instability that ultimately gives us this opportunity to become newly transfixed with its awe-inspiring-splendor, and suddenly, our existence becomes anything but ordinary.
"I am responsible. Although I may not be able to prevent the worst from happening, I am responsible for my attitude toward the inevitable misfortunes that darken life. Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have - life itself." ~ Walter Anderson
The power of choice is one of our greatest treasures. We can never control what happens to us, but we can control how we choose to perceive all that we encounter on the many walks of life. In The Transtheoretical Model of behavioral change practiced in health and wellness coaching and psychology, there is an emphasis placed on a client's locus of control (internal vs. external). A client with an internal locus of control believes that they can influence events and their outcomes, while clients with an external locus of control blame everything on forces outside of themselves. There have been numerous studies paying particular attention to the correlation between resiliency in life and locus of control; it should be no surprise that there is a high correlation between the incidence of resiliency and an exaggerated internal locus of control coinciding. I will also note that if we so choose, we have the ability to intentionally alter the way in which we naturally present ourselves in life and the perceptions we give attention to, thus giving us the opportunity to change our locus of control.
All of this leads me to beg the question: God doesn't protect us from the lessons that we need to learn, so why do people try to? The universe doesn't spend eternity toying with us, maybe the things that are presenting themselves to you in your life are there for a reason. Could they have something to teach you? If they did, what would the lesson be? Whether we're practicing codependence by trying to save others from learning their own lessons, or simply trying to take the "easy" road in our own lives by playing the victim (which - spoiler alert - winds up being the much more challenging and destructive road in the long run) this isn't doing anybody any favors, including yourself. Life isn't using all of its ever-expanding intelligent consciousness to do things to you, it's like Byron Katie says, everything happens as it is meant to..."You don't have to like it.... It's just easier if you do." So I will leave you with this my friends - Why not seek comfortability in your instability? And let adaptation be your constant.
"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver
"There's no weakness as great as false strength." ~ Stefan Molyneux
I wanted to bring up this concept of projecting falsity because it has come up for me several times in conversation over the last several weeks. I think it's important to note that in our fast-paced and social-media-driven world it's challenging to be able to decipher the truth about who we really are. So don't even get me started on how questionable it can be to try and gauge the authenticity of another persons relationship with themselves.
Something that has repeatedly come up has been the concept of "teachers" in the health and wellness world - whether it be mental, physical or spiritual. I have seen several examples of people who "look" like they have it all together and are more than happy to preach to others about how they should live their lives. Their approach has a subtle undertone of narcissism and something about them always just feels "off" for me. Several times I have ignored that feeling and thought to myself that for whatever reason they just didn't click with me, only later to find out that it their "teaching" was all a show. What I've now recognized is it's okay to listen to that small quiet voice when it whispers that everything they're about screams "trying too hard."
These "teachers" often have a great message, amazing gifts, talents and a genuine desire to help others. The problem that I see is that there are a lot of people out there desperately seeking help in the areas of wellbeing and when doing so they are forgetting to have a discerning mind. The important thing about being a teacher and a role-model for others is not egocentric, it is not important how well you can project an image of perfection - news flash, nobody is perfect and most of us barely have it all together. What is of the greatest importance in being a leader (especially on these subjects) is that you have taken a good look at yourself, the life you are TRULY living and taken inventory of what you find, inviting awareness in, without judgment.
People can be a mess inside, hanging onto any semblance of thread to look like they have it all together and project that false image onto the world. Oftentimes they're so deluded that they believe the mask they wear in public is their true identity, lacking true awareness. While their intentions and messages can be good it is important to use extreme caution in guiding others when you have not fully looked at yourself first. One of my favorite proverbs that I find so true about life is "the road to hell is paved with good intentions." You can do a lot of harm under the guise of assistance, oftentimes with the best of intentions.
I think I have developed a little bit of a knack for being able to recognize it more easily now, because in it I recognize pieces of myself. I was there, many times in my life. Trying so hard to be okay on the outside and convince others that I was a noble and helpful person; consuming my time with "helping others" so that I could avoid helping myself and dealing with my own personal pain. I hadn't yet fully accepted myself, dark side and all, and while I have made incredible headway in this aspect,I imagine that it will be a lifelong practice. We live in a world that continually tells us to run from ourselves, that we aren't good enough, that we always need more OUT THERE which inevitably leads to the avoidance of what is IN HERE.
I think this is especially relevant now as we have begun to see a wider acceptance of health and wellness and the continual development of ourselves, as they have become rather trendy these days. While I welcome things that are universally beneficial to the world, such as wellbeing, becoming trends I also hold some concerns. Living in a world that makes money off of us staying perpetually lost to ourselves helps me to value the true weight of responsibility that teaching entails. People are waking up and genuinely seeking guidance and it can be more damaging than beneficial to be "taught" how to live and experience things for further growth by somebody who hasn't looked within themselves fully.
The more people I come into contact with and the older I get the more I realize that none of us really know what we're doing in this wild thing we call life. We're all just doing the best we can with what we know, the issue is that we live in a society that doesn't emphasize the right things, the things that truly give life meaning. Unless we welcome our deprogramming, in that area, some of us are much more confused than others.
"The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge." ~ Daniel J. Boorstin
The ego is clever and very admirable in its ability to survive, it can convince us that teaching others how to live the way we have chosen to is a noble and beneficial act, when in reality it is a mere scheme to avoid dealing with our own baggage. A genuine teacher will not promise to have all of the answers and they will not tell you how to live your life. They may offer guidance and share the tools that they have seen work for people which may or may not work for you. There is no one right way of handling the complexity of all of life and its plethora of unforeseeable circumstances. It is not a teachers place to judge where their students are, but it is the teachers responsibility to meet them there.
If you are seeking guidance in the health world, I remind you all to follow your heart and use a discerning mind in choosing whom to take advice from. If you are a teacher in this realm, I urge you to be cautious with your abilities and be aware of the responsibility of impact that you have on another's life. Listen to your intuition above all else, you will always be your greatest guide.