Although much of my life revolves around a daily routine of work, like all of us, I find myself bombarded with sensations and images, thoughts and feelings – and often caught between delight and distress.
One moment I find myself in a clear beautiful sunny day after a rain, water droplets pooling on leaves and flowers, shimmering. I am aware of the generosity of the rain, the need of the parched land. I remember my enjoyment of the clinking of the rain against the metal chimney guard the previous night. My world is beautiful and good. I am happy to be here. I feel a thank you, gratitude and appreciation. I am in communion with delight. After all, is not each moment a relationship with the divine?
The next I see a FB post about polar bears starving due to changing climate conditions. Or I’m reading a novel about slavery or the holocaust. Or I see a picture of a butchered elephant. Whatever the case, I recoil. Our hearts are assaulted on a daily basis and the wrongs we encounter are often so blatant I lose faith in the good of us. Perhaps there is some greater plan, but I can’t see it and I can’t fix it. I cannot make the pain of these horrors go away.
How do I find the balance between noticing the beautiful and amazing things I encounter and the need to be informed about and active against the wrongs that perpetuate horror or pain for others? How do I find a relationship with this pain? How do I hold myself together when I feel I am being pulled apart?
Because I don’t want to get caught in depression or negativity, I purposefully notice the pearls of delight – those moments of beauty and bliss that keep me from sinking into the despair of what is not. I use them to buoy myself. This is a practice that I have cultivated over the years.
Without beauty, gratitude, or appreciation – I do not think I could survive. These tiny tide pools of enchantment spill over me, washing me with a sense of ‘yes,’ I am part of an endlessly amazing planet. Without these moments, I would be consumed by the burning of the hard knot of distress. I would flail and fall.
Between these two extremes there is a third thing – not the resonating with beauty, not the recoiling in horror – but the gravitational pull of a lesson of our lives. If I am pulled into a situation like matter is pulled into a black hole, if I don’t have the presence or ability to avoid this thing, I understand that to mean I have some learning to do, or a muscle to build. Overcoming this gravitational pull becomes a path of personal growth.
It is in the area of this third thing that we find the pay dirt. It is in this gravitational pull of our issues that we are led to the challenges, which will provide the answers we are seeking. Learning to look at the areas that pull us, finding their secrets will lead us to freedom. Why is this pulling me so hard? What old voice or unanswered need resides here?
The gravitational pull of our issues will be present whether we choose to tackle them or not. The tackling of them will lead to clarity, wisdom and vision. It will eventually allow for more open space with which to notice beauty. It also creates the strength to stand up and shout against what is not okay. The tackling of this third thing is deeply connected to facility in navigating through our experience of life – both the positive and the negative.
I did a piece of active imagination work around this recently. I was struggling with feeling unseen, with feeling caught in the need to ‘take care’ of someone else because I did not want this person to experience unhappiness. Yet I knew that I needed to hold firm and stand up for myself – regardless of their perspective. I knew this in a deep way that is beyond explanation or words.
In this piece of work (done with a woman who is a clairvoyant medical intuitive), I was asked to get quiet and see what came up around this situation. I saw a green peaceful meadow with a happy cow in it (me energetically). Then I saw a figure with dark and tormented energy, and unkempt appearance (the energy of disruption).
In this vision, I allowed this other energy to disrupt mine, because I could not hold it separate from me. I identified with it and stepped into its energy, in an attempt to help. I saw it as needing my help. I saw it as the starving polar bear or the holocaust victim. But that was not accurate.
She asked me if I could let that tormented energy not be my problem. If I could say to myself, ‘Your problem belongs to you and god. Your angst is not my problem and is not my job to fix. I am not going to fix it for you.’ I felt myself turn away from this figure – so as to stop allowing myself to be affected by it. Then, I felt something release. I felt lighter.
Lighter meaning I could stay in my grassy peaceful green pasture. Lighter meaning I did not have to give myself up or take on something that was not mine. Lighter meaning I could enjoy what I had created for myself energetically without guilt.
I want the space to notice and breathe in the beauty and peace that is around me. I want my own energy field to be calm and serene. I grasp more firmly onto the pearls of beauty and pull them close to my heart. Perhaps they will help me survive what I see and cannot fix. Perhaps they will open up a sanctuary for me.
Until recently, I have been confused. I have been confused in the area of responsibility. I thought the disruptive energy entering the peaceful green field was mine – it is not. For me this has been a gravitational pull of immense proportions. Over many years my work has been the slow untangling of these delicate strands into a clear understanding.
I had not fully understood the difference between a person’s black cloud due to their own unhealed issues – and a real injustice. My father left me with this distortion. His hard black and white rules often hurt. And I not wanting to repeat his harshness, veered too far to the other side.
In the past, this confusion caused me to get caught in all manner of things. I have jumped in to fix issues that were not mine to fix and had nothing to do with speaking up for the innocent.
I know we create our realities. I WANT to help end suffering and make the world a better place. I IDENTIFY with those that are suffering. This can hook me. I can lose track of what is what. I may think a person’s suffering means I need to fix it.
Sorting through these distinctions is subtle and tricky, but it can be done. We can learn to hear the call of our life, our soul. We can learn when to preserve our own space and when to get involved. We are each responsible for the functioning and clarity of our own psyches.
Because of the psychological work I have done, I am much more able to differentiate cleanly between what needs my help, and what has its own lesson, its own relationship to its inner god self that is not in alignment. Now I can say, “Hey, this isn’t about me and I don’t want to get involved. I have other things to do, other choices to make.” Clarity allows me to recognize what is what and choose not get caught in someone else’s lesson.
But back to slavery, factory farms, child labor, the suppression of others, and drowning polar bears. Back to systems that hurt and suppress others. Back to the suppression of magic.
We aren’t educated in and don’t believe in magic.
We haven’t learned to fully honor the beauty and magic of others: people, animal, plant, mineral etc. We don’t trust that as we make the ‘better’ more honoring choice, the world will adjust and provide a solution. Making the choice that is honoring of others is trust in and belief in magic. It is trusting that the bottom line isn’t about the dollar, but about love. When we hold that benevolent attitude consciously, we are creating a structure that allows magic to manifest. When we don’t, we are creating a structure that does not serve all and actually blocks the magic of love.
What am I saying?
If I choose to uphold a living minimum wage, it is because I believe in magic. This is not about the logical mind – and its limitations. It is about knowing that each right action allows good to multiply. To the contrary, if I believe in a non-living minimum wage, it is because I don’t believe that by paying more, our society will be stronger and healthier ultimately. If I disempower children because I want to profit from their labor, it is because I am blind to the pain I am creating and the possibility of a healthier world that will manifest, should I allow it.
Can we get out of our own way? We have a responsibility to get our psyches clean enough that good things can happen. We have a responsibility to understand the inter-relatedness of all of us.
I speak this to me.
Notice as much beauty and magic as you can. Get involved and help your world and fellow beings as you can. Accept the gravitational pull of your issues as a necessary challenge. Learn the difference between what is your issue and what is somebody else’s.
There is no way around this. Sooner or later this work will have to be done. Our physical survival depends on it. Pick up the shovel. Start digging. Dig deep into your your history and psyche. Each piece of work we do makes the path that much more open and clear. Each piece of work we do allows us strength, clarity and vision.
May we each find our courage to speak our truth. May we learn to decipher the mysteries of the challenges before us. May we see with clarity what each challenge is asking of us – when to burrow deeper looking for meaning when to stand tall and shout.
This is really beautiful, Jen. Courageous, honest, sensitive, and real to the bone. Thanks for sharing.
This is a beautiful piece, Jennifer — I felt as if I was speaking to myself as I read it. I too am on this journey, and recently had a very difficult interaction with someone which took me back to a place of abuse and helplessness.
More work to be done is the way I see these terribly painful and difficult passages. Not to say that I don’t resent this, that I don’t wail to myself, when will this ever end, how much more work do I have to do?
The answer seems to be that there is no end. This is the real world. What matters is that people like you write about this so that we don’t feel so alone. So that we know others struggle with this balance of peace and growth.
Courage to speak our truth as we decipher the mysteries and learn to see with clarity — your words are a balm to my soul this morning.
Thank you for your courage — it bolsters mine.