When I was very little, sometime between ages 2 – 4, my absolute FAVORITE thing to do was to curl up with my Mama on her bed, lay my head on her stomach and listen to it because it always sounded like the Okefenokee Swamp to my little ears and imagination…
In keeping with our Western tradition of appropriation, we’ve taken religious and philosophical ideals of mindfulness and intention from other cultures flipped them inside out, turned them all akimbo and warped them to somehow mirror and further justify our instant gratification existence to the point of turning an entire range of emotions and states of being into something to be avoided or rushed through at all costs. Anger, fear, loneliness, despair, heartache, worry, discomfort, hopelessness… All of them are relegated to the realm of things one is to leapfrog over as soon as the feelings first appear. Some would go so far as to claim that acknowledging these feelings is tantamount to being ungrateful for all that is going right in one’s life or calling more “negativity” into one’s life.
But wait a minute. If everything we experience is of and from the divine, then so too are all those “negative” emotions. Each is an indicator that something in our realm of reality is no longer fitting our needs or serving our personhood. Sometimes you have a modicum of control over those circumstances. You can quickly and easily remove yourself from the cause of your angst. In those moments, take the leap and be done with it. Other times, it’s not so easy. Life happens to all of us, at any given moment, with no warning and with no concern for our demographics or our lot in life. It just happens. It’s at those times that we find out just how little control we have over the other people and entities in our world. We can’t wish the issue away. We can’t miraculously shift the paradigm by virtue of our force of will. Pushing ourselves through our very real, very appropriate emotional reactions can actually cause the very long-term damage that we think we’re avoiding by jumping ahead to “fine”. Unexercised loneliness, hopelessness and heartache become bitterness. Unexpressed anger, fear and despair become rage. Unprocessed bitterness and rage become disease. Denial is NOT dealing with it. And dealing with it isn’t flailing aimlessly in an abyss you can’t come back from.
Learning to be with yourself in the midst of your discomfort, in the pit of your “what in the hot and holy is THIS new bag of Hell”, is a skill set that will always serve your highest good. The next time it all falls apart or hits the fan or leaves you chipped cracked broken decimated… The next time life hands you a box of lemons, which upon opening you discover are also rotten… I challenge you to dig deep and find it within yourself to give yourself permission to just BE. Sit with your heartache, your loneliness, your disappointment, your fear. Pull it out and look at it. What shape is it? What color and hue? What size is it? How does it smell? How does it taste? What texture does it have? What’s the viscosity? Is it hot or cold? Where do you feel it in your body? Is it pain or pressure? Sharp? Dull? Constant or in waves? Static or pulsating? How does it sound? How does it move? Is it an old wound reopened or is it fresh and new? Where does it come from? What does it want? No, really. Try it. Try to see your feelings as of and from you, but not part of you.
Once you have a deeper understanding of the cause and affects of your emotions, once you own them, once you accept what’s so, you regain your power. You are no longer at the mercy of your feelings or circumstances. You are in alignment with what is so in your reality. This is not a one size fits all quick fix. You won’t float through the rest of your experience, day, week, year, life… You will most definitely repeat the process countless times throughout your life. You will most definitely get caught off guard, side-swiped by life, and go spiraling back to that leapfrog to alright instant gratification pill we were all encouraged to swallow. That’s fine. As stated above, there are occasions when the circumstances warrant it. There are also those life altering moments when the only way out is through. When you will simply have to BE horrified terrified lonely unsure and aching. Moments when you will have to let go of the ledge and fall back into the abyss of nothingness.
It is while you are in that nothingness that the divine, the universe, your highest self, whomever you rely on, will throw you the lifeline you are most needing to get you back on the path to understanding, the freeing truth in acceptance and the leap to gratitude for all of it.
This past Saturday was the cherry on top of a few successive weeks of hell, which is just the latest in half a year of hits to my little fiefdom. Running late to get to my Mom, a no win no end in sight fight with my wife, a “this is what the doctors won’t tell you about your Mom’s condition” conversation with a trusted medical professional & friend of the family, and 20 minutes of sobbing as I sat in her driveway. I then got myself together, mustered up a smile and took myself in her house. Fast forward through a quick unhealthy dinner, and I find myself following my Mama back to her room. She’s only gotten out of bed when absolutely necessary for the past week, which only makes my heart that much heavier. She climbs her little self into bed and fluffs her pillows, making space for me to sit at the foot of her bed. I’m not quite sure how it happened, but after several trips to the kitchen for her, I find myself sitting next to her and then curling up on the pillows by her side, watching tv. Forty years later our roles have reversed. She is now the smaller of the two of us and I am lying on the outside of the bed as if to keep her protected. It’s my stomach making swamp noises. And it is this moment, as I lay there being in my loneliness, my sadness, my helplessness and my despair that the divine gives me a sense of peace and grace. With my little world crumbling around me, in spite of being in all of my “negative” feelings, my goddess granted me moments I haven’t experienced in 40 years and thought I’d never experience again. By accepting what is so in my life instead of ignoring it or hoping it’d all miraculously go away because I willed it to, I rearranged my life to fit this heartbreaking lonely place in my journey. And by doing that, I got my miracle. In the depth of my sorrow, curled up next to my Mama, I got that feeling of total love and acceptance and security I haven’t had since I was 4. In her acceptance of her reality, my Mama let herself need me as much as and at the same time as I needed her. And we, with the help of the divine, found and held each other in the midst of our void, each bringing the other back to face the fire one more day, one step at a time. There is power in being with one’s deepest most painful feelings. It is in those spaces that we hear and receive our most beautiful gifts to and from ourselves, others and the divine.
The next time you’re tempted to soar past your angst, remember how close you are to creating magic. Sit with it, be with it. And get ready to make some magic.