Here we are. So many layers.
I’m perched, benched, resting. Working differently for a time until something moves or shifts that lets me know I’m ready again. I am watching the world go by, but I’m not out in it. For now.
I put my toes in the water a bit last week and I can tell you I’m not ready. It was too soon. I can’t further explain that, but you know your own version of “too soon.” We have to trust it.
We all have edges to our capacity. We can certainly stretch those, and I would argue that it’s important. Some of those stretching sessions are short, some are painfully long.
Where are you on that gradient of stagnation vs growth? Do you honor or disregard your own warning lights?
I have not honored that boundary in the past.
In working into my own system, rather than outside of my own system, I am healing very old things. Things older than me.
It’s time for some things to be different in my life. So far, the fruits of the labor are very sweet.
But focusing off of things outside of me is very hard. It’s not just a coping tendency to tend to the world outside of myself, it’s a conscious choice to be here and be of benefit in the world.
People in my life have different ideas about this, but the reality is that no one is looking at it from the inside, other than me. No one has the capacity to determine what or whom compels me to act, other than me.
Other people, whom I love very much, will only be able to understand from their own study and experience. They will only be able to name what’s taking place from their own language and nuanced use of it. Concepts and words have many simultaneous meanings.
This is something every one of us needs to understand. We don’t know. We guess. And assuming based on our best guesses, without the participation of the subject, is inappropriate.
We do it all the time, and sometimes it’s the safest option. Or it has been in the past.
Here we are.
I am realizing for the first time, since I’ve retracted from the grind, that I have been responding to fears.
I have been responsive, as best I can be, to address people’s fears. And that means I am not standing fully connected, heart centered, in my own ways.
I cannot continue this way. Now that I understand, I cannot continue.
When we respond to fears, we become ever-shifting because fear is ever-shifting. Fear is insatiable and unrelenting. It flows from here to there, filling pockets we don’t know we have.
I like pockets. They are handy.
Fear is pain. Fear is suffering. Mixed in with fear is survival. Fear is adaptive. And fear gets between us.
It makes those available to us unavailable, because we fear that no one will be safe. No one has been safe, for some of us.
When we attune to suffering, we are also attuning to fear.
Whether we know it or not, we are attuned to fear. It is conscious and it is unconscious–driven on a deep, deep plane of our existence. For every fear we know, there are more we don’t.
By slowing down and focusing clearly inward, I’m coming to understand my own fears. I’m really trying to know them and how to exist and work from within and sometimes even without them.
It is clear to me that my greatest fears are very simple.
…that I will hurt someone, that I will be hurt by someone, that I will be discarded. My greatest fear, interestingly, is stagnation.
And a big one inextricably linked to the world outside of me–the hook, if you will, is that we will all continue to suffer in our fear. That we will continue to hurt one another without wanting to. And that we will create a landscape of fear for our children and communities, keeping ancient patterns of hurt alive forever.
I fear that, and so I have made the mistake of chasing fear. We can call it selfish. Or we can call it noble. I’ve been accused of both. Society is not shy in labeling things and often harshly.
We can assume the worst of someone, unforgiving of their failings. We can assume the best, still dehumanizing them in the process. We fail to compassionately understand someone’s wholeness includes their mistakes and their finest moments.
My first business, a private practice specializing in child and family psychiatry, was named Create Mental Health. I felt, in those early days, that we have to be creative and individualized in our approach to mental health. We have to look around us and see where we might be supported to thrive. What are our spirits asking for?
I wanted to work with animals and art and gentle movement. I wanted to see people experience moments of relief and build on them. It was important to support their own methods and practices.
The medical field is not set up to support that.
My second business was named Breathe Be Brave. I meant for it to portray that we breathe, sometimes we just be, and that bravery is something we can do…not something we either have or do not have. People interpreted through their own lenses what they thought I meant.
In retrospect, I had experimented with including punctuation or a “tagline” but didn’t have the bandwidth to overthink it. And it was clarifying…about how we are, inside our human thinky brains. My BBB is different than your BBB. And that’s the beauty and the challenge.
I’m sad to understand I’ve been the equivalent of a hummingbird fussing over fears instead of flowers. I’ve certainly admired the flowers, too. I see the infinite capacity inside of every one of us, truly. The humanity. The core self, free of the agitated states we inhabit.
I feel it in my own being and I can sense it in others. That won’t change, I’m certain of that.
I’m learning how people respond differently since this shift, and that I can’t do anything but be the person I am. Absolutely mortal, mammalian, and deeply driven by my own fears.
Something is unraveling these days and growth is uncomfortable on many levels. Detaching from our collective suffering is helping me suffer less and that feels…better and awful at the same time. I’m looking forward to getting to know this new way of being.
And part of me wants to apologize for being that hummingbird. But that doesn’t feel right either, because we are all some version of that hummingbird, flying in a jerky fashion toward or away from various stimuli, and one another.
I can only hope that on the other side of this I will better understand we are more than stimuli for each other’s reactions. But we’ll see. If there’s one thing I understand about this life, it’s that I’ll learn something I could never dream or anticipate.