There is something I want to birth into life. It is a deeply felt, creative expression that I have been engaging with; listening, refining, loving. And, I have felt judging, fearing, confused with it.
I realized this morning that I am taking this creation personally. Fearing what it says about me, vulnerable to what it reveals about me. Afraid of how it's truth will change my life.
In truth, this creation is not mine. It is of me, yes, but not mine. So perhaps a more appropriate perspective is to see it as if it were one of my children. My beloved, unique, amazing children.
Parenting is the one place where I bring forth my most intentional consciousness. The responsibility of cultivating, or shepherding, these precious, perfect lives through the stages of development is the greatest honor of my life. There was a time when I saw myself reflected through them, but something shifted and I now see it my sacred responsibility to bring out in them their greatest truth. To see them with wonder and awe and honor, for who they are in the world. To protect their unique beauty, to listen to their truth, to honor their paths. To see their truth as holy, and to consciously protect and nurture that in the world.
And, this thing being birthed is actually the same thing - a creative life force emanating from me. Being birthed through me. It is no more appropriate that I judge and fear it as I do my children. That is old thinking. And so, today it is my intention to:
Sometimes fear is an appropriate response - like when we're being chased by bad guys at gun point. And sometimes it is an inherited pattern we learned from our people or the culture. The good news with this is that, for me, it is far more the second than the first, and it is un-learnable also.
It doesn't matter what you do, it matters that you do it with respect, with reverence. It matters why you do it, and how you do it. What you do is almost irrelevant.
We all came into this world gifted with innocence, but gradually, as we became more intelligent, we lost our innocence. We were born with silence, and as we grew up, we lost the silence and were filled with words. We lived in our hearts, and as time passed, we moved into our heads. Now the reversal of this journey is enlightenment. It is the journey from head back to the heart, from words, back to silence; getting back to our innocence in spite of our intelligence. Although very simple, this is a great achievement. Knowledge should lead you to that beautiful point of “I don’t know.” . . . The whole evolution of man [sic] is from being somebody to being nobody and from being nobody to being everybody. —Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Here’s the thing, what I’m doing with my life confuses me. I meet people and when they ask me what I "do", I say "I am living." It's an unorthodox answer, to be sure. I spend my days feeling my soul in the woods. How is that even a thing? And yet, it is critically important. I bring that wooded self home with me. To my family. To my loved ones. It brings forth in me my greatest humanity. A new perspective. The energy of the woods fills me. A holiness and depth infuses my cells.
I do not bring forth one form of energy: money. (Yet!) I bring forth another: living. How could that be without a category? So overlooked, bringing forth living, humanity.
I live on the fringe of two cultures: nature and humans.
My husband and I have an interdependence in our partnership. He brings forth that one form of energy that our cultures singularly defines and names and values: money. I bring forth another, nature. He is particularly constituted for more interaction with the outside world than I am right now. I do best one on one, in small doses. With lots of space in between.
One way is not more right than the other, it is simply more right for one of us. It's about finding the right place for us. I am blessed that this is an option for us, to be sure.
We rely on what the other one brings to the home to provide it for the other.
The me, or rather the energy that filled me, when I participated in the money energy, did not nourish him or my boys in the same way that this does. We are all better off for this division. And what I contribute matters. He sees it and values it. He is the first to remind me when I forget and fall into the old metrics.
They are both energy, and we need both.
This just in from the woods: Our smallest acts contain within them our greatest power.
Here’s what I mean by that: we humans come together and love each other so imperfectly. My greatest wounds, those that carry the greatest weight or live deepest in my cells, have been received from those closest to me. Those I love the most. The judgements, careless words, rejections. I do not believe they were malicious, and I do not believe I am a victim. It is never personal. And...actions have consequences.
Undoubtedly I have also inflicted wounds on those I hold most precious. I believe that it (mostly) happens when I am least aware of it, paying the least attention, gripped in an impulse or emotion. Unable to see beyond myself.
And...my greatest moments of love happen in the opposite way: when I am fully present and open and engaged.
And so, just think of the magnification of hearts that would available on this planet if those micro-wounds inflicted on those closest to us were reduced, removed, returned, recycled? It *is* in our power to change this. To take responsibility for our actions, moment by moment by moment, in our daily lives, by being open and compassionate and non-judgmental with those closest to us. We do not have to choose the way of another. But we do have to make space for the truth and path of another, to allow it to belong.
And so, the concrete take-away, the actionable action is this: love those closest most carefully, most intentionally. Starting with the self, be the most available, listening, present and compassionate there, and then in concentric circles outward. Our greatest power is closest to us, and always available.
This seems to be is opposition of our cultural values, where we prioritize work or external likes from strangers. Sometimes we pay the least attention to those closest to us. That is upside down, and a low power move.
The more awake, intentional, and open we become with those closest, the more powerful we become.
Sometimes I get confused in the clutter and clamor of the culture. Here is a litmus test: if it is true in the woods, it is true.
The woods calls forth the deepest, biggest, wildest, humblest, most holy and magnificent truth in me. The most alive, the essential essence.
The part that matters most.
If something feels true in the woods, it is true.
(No matter what (I think) the outer world says.)
When I am in the woods, I am in communion with the Divine. How could this be anything but the point of my life?
Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic shares a question we can ask of ourselves: Do you feel that your creative endeavor loves you back? Inspired by this possibility, I asked the woods if they love me as much as I love them on a recent walk. And then I walked, heart open, waiting for a reply.
The answer that infused my soul, near the end of the walk, filled me.
It was: you belong.
For me, this was even better than being loved.
For those of us that do not always find our place among the two-legged, may we all belong to something we are madly in love with, that is bigger than ourselves.
Marfa, TX photo credit: Unknown (apologies!!)
I participate in a regular energy practice called Constellation Family Therapy. We engage with the energy within a system - be it a family, a group, a community, whatever - to see where energy is stuck or dysfunctional. Seeing where dysfunctional energy patterns exist enables the release and flow of the energy, and the result is healing.
When I began doing the practice, I was identified as a natural 'expresser' of the energy - it flowed easily through me, and I could interpret it clearly. I received regular feedback that I was "good" at it. For a long time I really enjoyed this distinction, and reveled this.
When processing the energy, a lot of times you don't know much of the context for it, so you don't know how "right" or "wrong" the interpretation of it was until much later, if ever. Being "good" at this meant that I was dependent on each performance in order to retain my reputation. This wound up feeling like pressure, for something that should only come from a place of service or fun.
For many reasons, I wound up taking a couple of months off. When I returned, I wondered if I would still be a clear channel for the energy. The first practice back was intense and confusing, and I found myself questioning how "good" I was at it.
And so, I had a decision to make - to focus on how "right" I was, or to trust that the group would provide the information that was needed for healing. As long as I remained true to expressing the energy within me, I couldn't judge how good it was.
It strikes me that this is actually an excellent way to live - rather than to judge my individual performance at any time, then I can focus on being true - truthfully speaking my truth, following my energy, and trusting that it is enough. That it will provide exactly what is needed in the moment.
This takes all of the pressure off of being a particular way, or being "good," and it releases me to simply be my authentic self in any moment. And, it is entirely within my control.
Norma Van Horn