Today I had to go and have some headlight bulbs replaced. This is the second or third time. I feel like I should remember, because if it’s the third time in 14 months I can be more outraged than if it’s only the second. But truth is I’m not outraged at all, I’m struggling to even be annoyed. I’m just accepting it. After all, a light in the dark is a really nice thing. We know I love a light, a beacon.
Light is making it easier for me to scratch the right itch. Last night a mosquito made of me a blood donor. I’m glad I was asleep, there’s nothing worse than trying to fall asleep when there’s a mozzie buzzing around the bedroom that has its radar set on you! And it was perhaps kind, got its fill from just two bites. When I reached to scratch this morning I could see the bites and let the itch go.
There’s a better itch for me to scratch. An irascible itch? No. It’s not angry, it’s not slow burning. It’s right now. But it’s been there. In fits and starts I’ve been trying to scratch and change some of the things about myself that would benefit from change. And lately my ability to make the jump has been bolstered. I seem to have stumbled across a jet pack and I’m using it! Perhaps it’s because I won’t be 42 forever…we know 42 is the answer, and I’m finding the questions in my “Douglas Adams year of 42”, the year of the meaning of life.
I actually chose to make this journey back in 2010 when I moved from Adelaide to Newcastle. I wanted things to be different. It’s taken me 5 years so far to move from workaholism to a different way of being. Climbing up mountains, falling down the other side, sometimes just lying down for a while. Roaming over slicingly sharp rocks, walking on warmed sand, sometimes I’m arid and dried up, sometimes renewed in the water. Not with a map and not really understanding the terrain. I’m sure sometimes I was in a boat rowing madly in the desert, and at other times trying to walk on water. It’s made for a hard but terribly interesting journey that I’m glad I embarked on.
And I’ve got some amazing things to draw on. Let me tell you about two things I witnessed when I was 15.
The first was the phenomenon of strength shining at a time of incredible vulnerability. I walked into the bathroom and my mother was grasping the sink with both hands, bent over saying “please God just stop the pain, just for five minutes stop the pain”. I couldn’t say anything. Imagine being 15 and seeing and hearing this from your mother who you just always thought was good and strong and okay and there. I couldn’t say anything. I just took myself across the space to her and put my arms around her. From what she said the pain must have been horrific and seeing this and realising this it flayed me raw. I think until that moment I hadn’t appreciated what dying was doing to her, what it was like for her. The other thing that struck me really powerfully was that to me she never, ever wavered in her faith. When she was asking God for that release, she was really asking him and leaning on him, it wasn’t an expression.
The second thing I witnessed when I was 15 was a tear fall from my father’s eye and roll down his cheek as he left the planet. His dying was a phenomenon of strength shining at a time of incredible vulnerability that was just hardwired to faith. I was next to him, holding his hand and yes, it flayed me raw.
It’s probably no wonder I constructed a spacesuit during the years after I was 15. These weren’t the only loses. I needed to cover up! Tara Brach, in a talk on unconditional love speaks of love for the self and about how sometimes we put on a spacesuit. (I wrote about this recently, click here to read more). Our spacesuit is made up of the best defensive and proactive strategies we can find to help us navigate when our needs are not met. The hitch is that we can come to think we are the spacesuit.
I’ve never more consciously chosen change – to take off the spacesuit. I can see with hindsight that I’ve been making choices for a while that with grace have led me here where I can do this and I choose to be here right now. Getting out of the spacesuit I built for survival means exposing myself to emotions and reactions that I had pushed down. I’m giving them light. I’ve chosen profound emotional, physical and mental change. It’s exhausting and frustrating and some days I have to let go of my desire to take certain actions and make ground and instead attend to my emotional state and curl up in a ball and just feel safe.
But other times I can do something really nifty. I don’t like heights, but I can choose to soar. I go with the notion of taking what is making me unsettled and using it to jump to something else, not away, but to – with deliberateness.
I can shape this jump, but eventually I just have to launch, to leap. I take wing because faith is a safety net under me, faith is my flight path and the beating of my wings.
How is your catapult constructed? What’s your tolerance? How far do you want to go? What’s your destination? Or do you just want to get some air? Some space between the ground and you, some space between how you’re feeling, where you’re at and your emotions? How much can we imagine first? What evidence can we gather?
I used to get in trouble sometimes at school for using rhetorical questions, but when you just want to present a door or a window without an invitation you can direct the traffic…I’d rather you find your way into the answers and the air that leads you to them.
So sometimes I see the light and I leap. It helps me move forward or sometimes just stay in place. It helps me to see below, so I can form a picture, so I can begin to own it, so I can imagine believing, get just a little bit closer to confidence. Taking the leap says I’m worth it. The worst thing that can happen is I will land on my own two feet. That’s also the best thing that can happen. So what’s the rub?
Well I’m really lucky. When I built my spacesuit, I lined it with that strength I saw displayed at times of enormous vulnerability. When my lion wasn’t roaring, I could just feel that spacesuit lining on my skin and hang in there with huge amounts of faith. I think I’m going to use that lining as I construct anew, because not only was it something my parents had, but it turns out it’s inherent in me too. But there are times when the chasm is too wide, when I can’t see or feel the light, when I just feel vulnerable and can’t find the connection to my strength.
And then it turns out that sometimes the bravest thing you can do is not be brave, it’s to lean. It’s to hold someone’s hand and then leap.
Matt, the pathfinder of the citizen led Building Bridges initiative keeps leaping when there is no path beneath his feet. His pathfinding ability has opened up a way for us to leap together in addressing the issue of child survival. Want to come along? Click here.
Planning for something in the future without the required resources in hand makes committing to action difficult. It is moving out onto a path where there is none. Hoping the ground appears before your feet. It is a pressure and a vulnerability that is not easily shared.
Do you know that feeling? Have you had that experience? It’s easy to feel a little sheepish when you are going without. When you are beginning. When everything is fragile and vulnerable.
But that is how it all begins. Yes, we were once just fragile, vulnerable embryos. Little and tiny. And we survived.
If you ever feel defeated or trumped, go back to the beginning and give thanks for a day you don’t remember. It’s brought you this far, no matter what the situation you find yourself in now. Keep going! Now is not the time to stop!
I know I want to keep going. This makes me want to make sure that I am there for others who want to keep going too. Why? Because you’re a part of me, and I’m a part of you. Here’s my hand.
Eagle of My Zenith
Hold on my heart
Wing your way back to me on breezes and gales of your making
Tail of mist, shake in the sunshine
Transform on the wing
Dip and weave, rise and soar
Be not mystical to me
Leave me a feather
Warmth of life
Home of my sun
You lift me to greater heights
I am eagle too.