Tag Archives: being enough

The Spiral Pattern of Living

There is no finish line
No tick marks or check boxes
No blanks to fill in
No thing to cross out

Instead we walk the labyrinth of living
Inward and outward
Weaving ourselves into being
Learning our mystery moment by moment

This terrain of trouble and triumph
I have traveled many times before
Wondering what it was I did wrong
If I was growing, why had I returned

The contours of the path remain the same
Not so, the one who passes through
Every switchback, rewandered turn, has mattered
And in the crossing and recrossing, we unfold

I will come by here again, hold out my hand
To welcome every seed of joy
And the beauty of the broken roots
With stark scars of sadness, red as sunset

Each time, a different phase of moon
Cascades its own collage of color
Each time, reflected light casts its shadows
And I am left breathless once again with the remembering

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Don’t Try This At Home, Kids

How often must you fail before it stops hurting? That was the question in my mind this morning. It’s not that I am exactly failing. I’m just not succeeding, at all.

I’ve heard a lot of interesting and many helpful bits of advice about becoming conscious, and the flow of this year in particular. What has stayed with me is an idea that seems to describe life, whatever your belief system.

We’ start out in life floating down a river in boats of different shapes and sizes. At some point however we lose the boat, or it breaks apart on rocks, or it gets hijacked or stolen or reappropriated. After this, we make the rest of our way submerged in the river itself, which means everything is harsher, brighter, colder, more immediate, more beautiful, more wild, more painful, more harrowing, more directly interactive. (To be fair, if this were not a metaphor, we’d probably also die from hypothermia at this point, but I digress.)

For all its simplicity, I feel this metaphor is quite apt. For instance, I know many people including myself who are going along in living, and then something happens to terrify us out of our skin and we’re flailing in the water. If you think holding onto the shore gives you safety, think twice. Without a boat, it’s your hands grasping at the rocks along the bank for dear life. Meanwhile the churning water surges past you, dragging you away, leaving your hands wounded and bloody stains on the rock where they were a moment before. Trust me, this only needs to happen once before you realize it’s a terrible strategy.

So we try letting go and floating. And this is by far the more sensible thing to do … until we hear that we’re approaching a waterfall, and begin questioning our sanity. (I’m going to do what?) It’s not as though we aren’t used to white water rapids and waterfalls. It’s just that with them, there are only two outcomes: somewhat miraculous gliding through unscathed, or disaster.

Finishing a dissertation is like hearing that roar of waterfall up ahead. I am questioning my sanity—well to be honest I’ve been questioning that for a while. I have also heard lately the saying that if we just let the water carry us over the edge and not struggle with it, in other words pay attention to the way things in life are going and adjust ourselves accordingly, this will prevent tumbling headlong into raging currents from getting disastrous. I, for one, am not convinced.

I am paying attention to what’s going on with the people in my life who have some control over when I graduate. If I took their actions as a sign and went with the flow, so to speak, I’d slow down. In the past week, three people, an auspicious number, have told me in different ways that my plan for defending this summer is unrealistic. If I believe them, I will give up before even starting. If I don’t believe them, I’ll just be bulldozing ahead in a way that frankly feels a bit obtuse. Sure, I’m good at being recalcitrant, but that hasn’t ever won me a popularity contest in social graces. So I usually refrain.

So this morning I woke up thinking about entrepreneurs who say they are successful because they failed first, more times than they can count. It baffles me. How on earth do they do this without feeling terrible about themselves, being ashamed, giving up and attempting an easier venture instead, shedding tears, grieving, or making fools of themselves? (Actually, crying is probably acceptable. Literally or figuratively falling flat on your face? Probably not.)

I think about social movements, people who lose their lives to take a cause forward and never live to see its conclusion. Have they failed retrospectively if the movement disintegrates? Or the people who have always wanted children and try, but can’t: have they failed? I mean, they did try and did not succeed, and that’s one definition of failure. Does a person fail when their body has genuine physical limits they can’t transcend? Is it just their body that has failed them?

When is failure not personal? When is it both a genuine falling short and yet not a loss? When does it defeat a person? When is it transformative? How many attempts at trying are needed before it’s all right to walk away? How many failures does a person have to endure before it’s okay to stop beating herself up about it? Would failure be impossible in a world where judgment does not exist, and if so, are there good reasons for us in this judgmental world to abandon the concept in favor of another one? Is it ever possible to fail, spectacularly, and still be worth something, and still be whole, and still be enough?

These are my questions, and I struggle with the answers. Right now, I have little wisdom to impart. I am only beginning to experience what will hopefully, if I don’t fail, turn out to be the sequence of things which will give me the answers to those questions. And in doing so, I am reminded of the very sensible saying which I have never heeded, “Don’t try this at home, kids.”

What I do know is that sometimes failure isn’t a result of not working hard at something. There have been times when I’ve worked so hard on my dissertation that I’ve driven myself into incoherence and exhaustion. These efforts however have no impact on how fast or slowly my committee gives me comments, if they give them at all. On top of this, life seems to be getting in the way of progress for everyone involved, so that regardless of how much I personally do, there’s a sense in which progress isn’t really made. I am reminded of Diana Gabaldon’s book title, “Dragonfly in Amber.” If I’m the dragonfly, grad school is the amber. I beat and beat my wings, but hover still. Is that failure? Or has there happened to be an eddy right before the waterfall so that I can look ahead to the treacherous journey but am forever swirled in place? I suppose if life is a river, you’re bound to get caught in its eddies sometime or other. Is that failure, or just terrible timing and bad luck?

For all sorts of good and ridiculous reasons, I am here, working on a PH.D., which maybe, if I’m lucky, I’ll finish. There are people who get several PH.D.s. They have got to be masochistic. I’ve already reached the point where I am tired of such a painful experience, but the experience isn’t willing to give me up yet. I wish I had made other life choices. There are no answers, but I keep wondering when I’ll no longer feel like a failure, or like I am trying to climb Mt. Everest in flip-flops and a bathing suit. When does the light break through the clouds? When it does, I will not look back.

Spiritual Teachers and Discernment

“This blog post will change your life!” Actually, the truth is, it won’t, and there are good reasons to be skeptical of anyone using this phrase a little too often with a little too much enthusiasm, in my humble opinion. besides the fact that people reading this are probably alive and reading these words are adding to your life experience, (in a positive way, I hope,) most experiences are not life-altering. Some experiences, especially spiritual experiences, genuinely do transform you. In changing your inner world, your behavior, your relationships, even sometimes the way you hold yourself in the world will change.

I have personally had many such experiences, and none of them came prepackaged with the claim, “This will change your life!” There were no claims about outcome, only compassionate suggestions. There was no anecdote to uncertainty, only direction based on a plethora of past experiences. As a spiritual friend said recently, there is a reason people in the spirit world are called spirit guides. They don’t live your life for you, (by for instance, telling you how an experience will effect you or how you will feel afterward) and thank goodness they don’t! If things were different, life would be quite boring, disempowering, and distancing and you’d learn a lot about dominance and control and very little about authenticity and freedom.

The thing is, not everyone in this world has a healthy sense of compassion, unconditional love, personal responsibility, or honesty. Everyone knows that. But this statement is true, sometimes even more so, of self-identified spiritual teachers.

Two months ago I signed up on a mailing list to receive access to free telephone calls with various well-known spiritual teachers whom I had never heard of, because I was very curious about others’ experiences and approaches to their spirituality and the theme for the series of calls was waking up, something I am more than passionate about. It was a mixed bag. There were many genuinely spiritual people interviewed on those calls. There were also cooky cutter new agers and blatant scam artists. The host of the program seemed, in my opinion, to have a discernment problem of her own, and every call she hosted, she claimed, would “change your life!” The claim became statistically unsustainable after, say, call number 5, and yet she continues to make it.

For Aristotle, true excellence was synonymous with practical wisdom–sound rationality and emotional balance— and it was notoriously hard to achieve. Some scholars of ancient Greek philosophy surmise that to this date there has not been a single human being who has achieved this ideal. All this to say that, whatever excellence is, it ought not be a quality such that everyone and their adopted cat possess it. Such is true of the property of being life-changing, I think. It cannot be given to every experience, lest the concept lose its meaning entirely.

In any case, life transformation, as well as excellence, often were both sadly absent in this realm of inquiry.

First, there was a call with a spiritual practitioner who manufactures a filter which produces “structured water.” Skeptical already, I went to his website, only to find that the filter specifications explicitly state the apparatus does not take toxins out of the water. It simply “purifies” them with spiritual intentions. The rest of this filter’s enormous, and yes, “life changing!” benefits are scientifically proven facts about water itself. I was appalled by this person’s willingness to call himself spiritual while making a cash cow off of his dishonesty and people’s ignorance, both scientific and spiritual. (I was not surprised however, given the power of human egotism.) Here is a site discussing the scam:

People who don’t realize hydration has huge positive effects on the body whether or not it is “structured” but who have, for instance, heard accurately that water is contaminated by fracking could potentially be one set of scam victims. Structured water systems don’t prevent or reduce, let alone eliminate, contaminants in water.

People who want to evolve spiritually but still believe the authority to empower them lies outside themselves could be the second set of victims, and there will probably be overlap. Here’s the secret people: you are the one who empowers yourself, you are the author of your own life (not the same as the creator of reality) and you and everything else is interconnected. You can infuse as many intentions into water as often as you like, because ultimately you and the water are inseparable. If you need proof, your body is 75% water. You can infuse intentions in the water existing already within you, and get the same results as if you placed them in a glass of water and drank it. Water isn’t just outside you, it is you.

In general, you have all you ever would need within yourself to arrive at the threshold of your belonging, because that threshold has always been at the center of you. You can structure water for free. You can also skip the step of structuring water and become who you have always been and already are, from the inside out.

Several other people featured on the mailing list sold products that, though might have some nominal benefits, are wholly unnecessary to spiritual development. In the end, many spiritual tools are developed to help people focus and get into a state to access what is already within them. Tools aren’t bad in and of themselves. You don’t need a fork to eat pasta, but it’s sure helpful! However, if someone is trying to make you dependent on a product for enlightenment, run.

Another tragic example. The spiritual practitioner who is speaking tonight and who already has my discernment radar flashing red was introduced with the now increasingly meaningless “This will change your life!” guarantee which accompanies every single call, along with the following reason for why I should listen to her (which I will not): “Her popular Twitter feed has over 54,000 followers.” (No, I didn’t make it up!) For anyone philosophically inclined, but even for those who are not, arguments from popularity are fallacious and scream ego trip.

Just to be sure, I went on her website , where, sadly, she offers many blatant self-promoting reasons why people ought to work with her, including the particularly horrifying reason that she is “unique” because she works with the most high-ranking spirits on the other side. Now, this is one of the most blatant fallacies of argument by authority I have ever heard and, again, a huge ego trip. (Not to mention, if someone on the other side actually said something like this to her, she is being lied to.) What spiritual truth could a person possibly impart while fully believing in her superiority? While pointing out why your skills as a stock broker are unique in the business helps you gain customers and successfully compete in your field, the tactic is terribly tacky and telling when it comes to imparting spiritual wisdom.

There is a great and profound responsibility that befalls anyone wanting to spiritually guide others, whether in this world or the next. Those looking for direction (not a prescriptive formula) are, by the very nature of the relationship, making themselves extremely vulnerable. In such a situation, maintaining spiritual equality isn’t the ideal, it is necessary; otherwise one or both of you could get seriously emotionally, spiritually, and in extreme cases physically hurt. This intrinsic spiritual equality is one of the very first things I learned about with my ancient family. Spiritual relationship falls apart without it.

Yes, not all of us have the same skills. That is why there are teachers and learners. But hierarchies of expertise consist of inherently spiritually equal people, period. I would personally avoid anyone who believes otherwise.

I don’t understand how it is possible to be both consciously aware, aware enough to be in the circumstance of walking a spiritual journey with many others, and continue to hold the opinion of yourself that you are unique, and because of your otherworldly connections (who would undoubtedly insist on their equality) besides. I cannot fathom a more hypocritical message, personally. I can only conclude, as seems reasonable and my right in the circumstances, that such people are only pretending to be spiritual for their own personal gain.

I am unfortunately now not just wary of a few practitioners booked for calls through this program, but wary of the person conducting the program as well. What could have been a journey of interesting and insightful discovery has, most of the time, proven to be nothing more than a disappointing marketing campaign. I feel fortunate to have listened to the people whose energy and message resonated with me and to know to look within, rather than out to my culture, or to the popular spiritual culture in which this all takes place, to know when something feels like a scam and honor that feeling. I did not have to learn how to do this with a teacher, and I am not unique, nor special. I am one among many and I am learning and imperfect and very human in all that entails and my authority extends to my journey alone, and really not even that far. And, contrary to the innumerable claims made lately about everything and its lookalike being there to save you and change your life, if you just follow such and so or if you pay for it, I have this to say, which you can take or leave:

I have learned that I am valuable, I am needed, as is every other person here, and our worth is with us from before we were born, and each of us is one among many. We are whole. We are enough just as we are. I believe we don’t follow a spiritual path because something or someone needs to fix us. I follow my path for the joy of it, for growing, and because in changing I become more myself than ever before. I have learned that comparison is conformity, and conformity stifles authenticity. I am here to speak my truth, to finally see I am enough in my eyes, and be completely who I am. Isn’t that all we can ask of ourselves?

So, when someone bombards me with unsupported and incessant claims that “This (whatever it is) is going to save your life!” I remind myself that nothing outside you changes your life. You are alive. To transform our lives, we only have to go full out in living and being all we are.

Bringing in the New Year

It is around three in the afternoon, and I’m in bed. Yes, it’s the first of the year and celebrations abound, but I’m not up for any of it. Instead, I am cozy and warm wearing fleecy pajamas and curled under blankets. I’ve been given several free meditations over the past three days, and think now that in fact a relaxing meditation is just what I need to care for myself and recover quickly. I decide on a meditation for manifesting your dreams. I mean, out with the old, in with the new, right? Surely since I’ve done the letting go, now is the time to dream in what I want to bring about in this new year.

I press play and close my eyes. Three breaths, in and out, the guiding voice hypnotizing, and I’m slowly diving into that space that’s mine, to form within my mind the landscape of my life I want to be realizing. It’s all fine until the steady voice speaks these words over the gentle notes underlying her tone: “What is it, this dream, this wonderful thing that will make your life complete? Is it more money, a soul mate, a home?”

I freeze. I stop listening. Words are being spoken over my head it seems. More complete? More complete, I’m afraid to know what that means. And somewhere deep inside screams a truth so loud I have to stop, pause the track, breathe, recenter and reconsider what I might be doing here to the start of my year if I begin it in a state of want and lack and never enough just being here.

Complete is breathing in sunrise. Complete is walking my journey with my ancient family, looking into their eyes, even while a whole world away, and knowing what it’s like to be sincerely seen, and fiercely loved. Complete is lying in bed with a cold and the dog on the floor beginning to snore and then sleep takes me away into dreaming and I am exactly where I’m needing to be. Complete is me. Complete is no longer wandering because I already know I am home. Complete is knowing, in my soul, in the whole of every cell of my being and the silences between the beating of my heart that I am not alone. Complete is finding I am whole, complete is a day lived and another begun, complete is the setting of the sun. Complete is being the sister, the daughter, the woman I already am. Complete is the aching to understand another’s pain, the songs we sing, the laughter we birth into the world to share, the dancing I do when no one is there to watch me.

I cannot think of one external thing, the having of which would finally render me complete. I cannot think of what to add to my vibrantly lived life. I cannot think of a single reason why I am not enough. Why, oh why, do we do this foolish stuff? We do and strive and compromise our ability to take in and devour the moments before us. So hungry for experience, so eager for the awe of the mystery that surrounds and beckons and enfolds us, and yet we’re so worried that we’ll lose that we’ll choose to grab anything promising to shape and mold us. Do we even want what we think we do from the perspective of our immediate and limited point of view?

. I look at my hands, palms up and resting on my lap. I was instructed on doing this from the guided track, and I’m wondering how I can possibly sign the word from the world beyond for receiving, while insisting it’s me who brings my life into being. This openness pulling me back out of the way, I keep nothing to myself, but surrender the need to do things my way. Because I don’t understand, anyway. Because I am a child to the experience that has not made itself my own, because I am growing rather than grown and I have been unable to fathom the immensity of all the wonders that happen to me that help me to heal and bring me back to what’s real even while I remain unknowing. A year ago today I would have made the wrong prediction if I tried hard to envision the vast and wild tide of joy that ripped through knots in which I was tied and left me feeling worthy of being alive. I am not about to go back to taking control when I know that my soul already has other plans of which I am not aware, and if I dare to trust the path ahead I’ll come upon more than any manifestation could have brought about instead.

The living of a life makes it complete. Of course I long: to not live so much in isolation, to find a career that fulfills me, to have a partner that can love without conditions, I long. I long and then let go. I accept, but keep nothing, because I know that in the moment I cease to hold on, I become completely sure that someone holds me still, still and sure, still sure.

This year I do not ask, who will make me whole? I do not ask, what should I gain in order to have enough? For I am where I belong, and no longer find it to make any sense to hope something outside myself could fill any of the gaps between heart and mind. Beneath the shadows that twine through waking, the truth is that nothing is missing. The moment softens into silence, crystallizes and clears, and all there is, it is the now, and in it I am here. Right now, I reach out, with nothing to fear, and like one discovering a friendship, willing to learn from the other who they are, I don’t bother with the manifestation of my desires that can only go so far. Instead, I welcome the new year in wonder. And to the question, what would make you complete, if you could have more than what you think you can, I answer, nothing. I am complete in who I am.

The Four Who Helped Me Heal _ When Two Worlds Meet

August-September, 2013

In 2008, I develop a chronic and serious medical condition that is not properly diagnosed for the next six years. It is an intestinal condition and here is the thing I learn about such conditions: there is a lot of stigma around them and it is almost taboo to speak about it. So it has taken me over a year to decide to post this.

I am tested for Crohn’s, IBS, a whole gamut of scary conditions—but never, oddly, for the one condition I end up learning I have. I wonder if my problem has anything to do with my diet, so I give up dairy, gluten, and nuts and seeds. None of this works either, and is instead quite the hassle to deal with in daily living as I am exhausted, not absorbing any food I am eating, and scheduling my life around my illness.

Besides the physical illness, however, there is an even stealthier nightmare to contend with: the nightmare of secrecy, shame, self-blame, self-disgust, and isolation. At the same time that I want an accurate diagnosis, I also live in constant fear of its discovery. I believe that if anyone finds out, it will be proof that I must be replaceable and unloved. Sometimes I wish I could never see anyone again. I feel like I am living someone else’s life. I have certainly checked out of the one I’ve been given, but like the lyric in Hotel California, “you can check out any time you like but you can’t ever leave.” I have already made up my mind a while back that “leaving,” which would mean complete apathy or death, is no option for me. I just wish I could be a whole person again.

It takes until March of 2013 to get a proper diagnosis, after which I am immediately referred to a surgeon. I find I am mortified and relieved to finally be taken seriously and have an explanation for the terror and pain. I can finally name my nightmare that has taken over my life, its truth borne silently and in hushed horror. And as I come to accept both that I will not have to endure this forever, and that surgery is my only option, as I work hard to heal my shattered spirit, I begin slowly to surrender to what is. Very slowly.

It has been extremely difficult to prepare for surgery: all the ins and outs of care I need during the hospital stay and then again almost constantly for the three weeks following, the lining up of friends and family, social workers, and dealing with bureaucracy has been almost too much to handle. During all this, four people from the otherworld keep appearing together around my living room. Quietly, with no expectations of their own, they lend me support with silent presence, and it is strangely validating, this vigil of acknowledgement and how they do not judge me for not being whole, or well, and don’t look away. They wear homemade wool outfits, are extremely tall, and carry swords and shields with swirly ray patterns on them, so I can’t tell precisely if I am seeing the symbol for sun or water, or both at once. They look solemn and serious. They rarely move. They have yet to speak to me. That hardly matters. In the other world, whole conversations can occur without words.

I don’t know their names or why they are here, I mean why they are bothering to hang out with me, but I am not ever surprised to see them, it is kind of like arriving home from a long day and finding your family there— ordinary joyous contentment, belonging. I am also way too exhausted and ill to ask questions or even be particularly polite, but they don’t seem bothered by that. I simply except, gratefully, that they are here, as I go about making countless phone calls, and work out my manifest world recovery team who will have to spend three to six weeks assisting me while I don’t have a guide dog. The surgeons don’t want him with me while there’s a chance he could pull on me or cause me to fall.

Now, six months after my referral to a surgeon, around August 20th, I am attending another appointment for a second opinion. I am prepared to take as much control of the situation and my health as possible. I have literally twenty-five questions on my Braille computer ready to ask, thoroughly researched. I’m leaving no stone unturned.

I look around the room and find all four of my otherworld people are here. When our eyes meet, their eyes are kind, with a somber calm within them. I marvel at how they can see into the truth of things, but don’t evaluate what they see. This in and of itself is a gift to me. When I think there is no way I could possibly be safe, I look at my otherworld people and they help to ground me in myself, in a gaze that simply accepts what is.

When the surgeon walks in, I think, well okay, this surgeon dude tries messing with me, he’s going to be really sorry he does. That thought makes me smile despite the circumstances. These four people from the otherworld are formidable looking indeed. They certainly command anyone’s respect, and I surmise, would most likely instill fear in anyone who got on the wrong side of them. The surgeon, I notice, is effectively surrounded. I am relieved and for the first time ever while in a doctor’s office, I feel safe.

Fortunately, the surgeon is thoughtful and respectful, and doesn’t hold limiting stereotypical views about people with disabilities. He answers my questions thoroughly and to the extent it is humanly possible, puts me at ease. I am so young and otherwise healthy that he is confident the surgery will be a success. He corrects my misinformation and this in and of itself silences many of my fears. Meanwhile, my otherworld people keep their vigil around the room, holding space for me, keeping me centered, their presence silently challenging my belief that until I am well I am not valuable to anyone. I cannot seriously have this thought and look into their eyes at the same time, and so unless I need to be looking elsewhere, I never look away from them.

I arrive at the hospital on September 17th. Trembling violently from cold and nerves, I enter the unusually frigid operating room. This is when I realize I have a choice: resist or surrender. Up until this point, I believe that surrendering means giving up the deepest part of me. It is my dignity and respect which needs fighting for, and it is this dignity that the surgery and the hospital stay, with its inevitability of rendering me profoundly dependent on others, surely threatens and compromises. But suddenly my need to heal overrides my desire to continue with my defenses. The anesthesiologist begins to read the affirmations I have written up for her to say while I go under, each to be repeated three times. “You are whole, safe, and secure,” she says soothingly. “You are whole, safe and secure.”

I let go, completely, and by the time she repeats the affirmation a third time, I’ve lost consciousness. When I awake, I know I am well. I still need to recover, but my body feels like mine again. My first words are, “I’m so happy!” I realize surprisingly that at the moment I am not in any pain at all, despite just having gone through an intense major procedure. But that is not the only gift I receive from this experience. I know that my choice to surrender is the greatest gift I could ever imagine: I come home to myself. I do not lose myself, but find it again. I find peace, and this peace stays with me wherever I am.

I spend six days in hospital. I do recover well, but there is still all that uncomfortable and gnarly stuff that comes with having major surgery. Incredibly, amazingly, my other world people stay with me the whole time, regardless. They hold space for me, and protect me so all I have to do is heal. I don’t need to see them. I can feel the light that surrounds me, and it is like being a child who finally experiences what it is like to be held.

It is only after six weeks of recovery (after which I can eat whatever I want!) that I see my four otherworld people vividly, in front of me, like I normally do. And when I do, it finally occurs to me to ask who they are. When they tell me, my rational brain goes on strike until further notice and I am caught in between impossible and possible, acceptable and unnervingly unacceptable reality.

I spend the first week in a bit of stunned denial, and ask them at least twice a day to come again with who they are. Occasionally I worry that I am engaging in the most outlandishly creative act of imagination ever conceived. Have I lost it? But no, somehow I know I am probably not making this up at all, and the adage ‘truth is stranger than fiction’ would absolutely apply and I’d be incapable of dreaming all this even if I tried. Also I am definitely not dreaming. Also, I have been too busy preparing for and then recovering from surgery to try. Also, if these really are the people they say they are, I absolutely have to believe them.

Still, I am having trouble accepting this reality. Moments strike me at random in which I am confronted with trying to come to terms with what is going on. Why would these four people, who I don’t even know, choose to spend days with me in which I can barely get out of bed, am often in pain, and need help doing almost everything under the sun? How can they see the state I’m in and not judge me? Why is it that, though they never look away, I feel peacefully, utterly safe? I am beyond grateful. But why? Why do this for me?

But when I do ask Caoilte about it, ask why, why would he and his sons Faolán and Colla, and his cousin Oisín, be so unconditionally here for me, he simply replies, “Why not?”

It’s a response that effectively separates itself from any line of argument to the contrary. It causes me to think seriously about the negative view of myself that I hold and always have taken for granted. I know that if I were given a reason why, I’d try my best to come up with why I still did not deserve it. But there is no reason. I am given instead an invitation to accept what is. It takes some time, but acceptance does come. I accept despite my culture’s aversion to spiritual experiences that make no sense, I accept though this leaves me in profound humility, gratitude, and wonder. And I am forced to confront my incredulity that I could ever be worth doing such a thing for, ask myself whether I have been wrong my whole life about lacking value unless I am exceptional or perfect, whether, regardless of my blindness or health or illness or strengths or weaknesses I might just be enough. Really? And why? But as I will come to find out, there are many preconceptions of myself and the world that I’ll be turning on their head, reevaluating, and growing from, letting go into awe and gratitude and wonder, coming home.

a href=”https://thesoundofwhathappens.wordpress.com/2014/12/02/the-antlered-branch-_-when-two-worlds-meet-part-13/” title=”The Antlered Branch _ When Two Worlds Meet: Part 13″/

Brené Brown: “The Power of Vulnerability _ The One-Many (OM) Project

I’ve decided to continue posting, when I come across them, the words and work of others who, like myself, are committed to living and articulating the interdependence of life, and how and why we should live by, among, because of, and even sometimes for each other. If you know of anyone doing related work, let me know and I’ll include them! This is my passion: not only what I am learning from my spiritual companions, but what I’m writing my dissertation on. I’m calling this, in honor of my own experiences, and yes in order to keep my inner word nerd happy, the One-Many or OM Project. We are all one among many, but never separate from each other.

No one walks alone, so I am including the words of those gone before, who walk their journey with me.

The Message From My Ancient Kin:
“Child, the way has not been clear, but Change is always in the making. Even now, each voice that hides inside, could burst at any moment, and from the heart of every silence, rend from it the truth it yearns to cry. This silent cry, breaking in waves upon the world, floods the landscape in its pleading, still aching to begin, speaking wordlessly within. Be that voice, speak your truth, embody that spirit that is all that you are. For our world is starving for love, is yearning for meaning, to hear the song of every life. And our children need us to live life fully: how else can we leave them their beginnings, or guide them to live by the wonder shining out through their eyes even once they’re old? We have always belonged. We need to remember. Our lives are but a single thread. This is love that holds us, even if it can’t be heard or seen. Our raw moments of connection are the knots tying us together, and it’s from the strands of our own song that we spin the story we become into something beautiful and strong, part of the fabric pattern of the world.”

And now here is another OM person and an inspiring TED Talk which she gave in 2010.

Brené Brown: The Power of Vulnerability

Listen to the talk or read the transcript here:

In Brené’s words:

Connection is why we’re here. It’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives. This is what it’s all about. … (W)hat we know is that connection, the ability to feel connected, is … how we’re wired

If I roughly took the people I interviewed and divided them into people who really have a sense of worthiness … a strong sense of love and belonging … and folks who struggle for it, … who are always wondering if they’re good enough … . There was only one variable that separated (them.) …(T)he people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they’re worthy of love and belonging. That’s it. They believe they’re worthy.

These are whole-hearted people, living from this deep sense of worthiness.

What they had in common was a sense of courage. … It’s from the Latin word cor, meaning heart — and the original definition was to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart. And so these folks had, very simply, the courage to be imperfect. They had the compassion to be kind to themselves first and then to others, because, as it turns out, we can’t practice compassion with other people if we can’t treat ourselves kindly.

And the last was they had connection, … as a result of authenticity, they were willing to let go of who they thought they should be in order to be who they were

They fully embraced vulnerability. They believed that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful.
They didn’t talk about vulnerability being comfortable, nor did they really talk about it being excruciating… They just talked about it being necessary. They talked about the willingness to say, “I love you” first, the willingness to do something where there are no guarantees…

Let me tell you what we think about children. They’re hardwired for struggle when they get here. And when you hold those perfect little babies in your hand, our job is not to say, “Look at her, she’s perfect…” That’s not our job. Our job is to look and say, “You know what? You’re imperfect, and you’re wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.” … Show me a generation of kids raised like that, and we’ll end the problems I think that we see today.

This is what I have found: to let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen; to love with our whole hearts, even though there’s no guarantee — to practice gratitude and joy in those moments of terror, when we’re wondering, “Can I love you this much? Can I believe in this this passionately? Can I be this fierce about this?” just to be able to stop and … say, “I’m just so grateful, because to feel this vulnerable means I’m alive.” And the last, which I think is probably the most important, is to believe that we’re enough. Because when we work from a place, I believe, that says, “I’m enough,” then we stop screaming and start listening, we’re kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we’re kinder and gentler to ourselves.

Gratitude

I am counting my blessings,
Listing all that’s gone right,
I recount all the times I have conquered the night.

When I was told I could not,
Still I took flight,
Encouraged by those in the world beyond life.

The threads make their crossing, I am never alone,
Through the paths intertwining, I have come home.
And it’s what they said, words to silence the lies:
They tell me that I am enough in their eyes.

Enough, yes, enough,
I’ve lost count of the times
I repeat I’m enough,
Enough, enough in their eyes.

Until I know it by heart, and take it as mine,
Until no doubt lingers lost
In the maze of my mind,
Enough, I will whisper, mending whole what’s gone by.

And I thought I would never encounter this treasured
Incredible gift to live up to the measure
Of all I am made of simply by being,

And though sometimes I wonder
What within me they’re seeing,
They swear I’m enough
And it’s truth that they’re speaking.

I think I will scream,
I think I will shout
This truth that shattered my world inside out,

Crying my joy, since all I wished for in dreaming,
Now I am living, the world more than its seeming,
Despite so much disagreeing, I am believing,

And incredulously, endlessly ever worth keeping,
I am enough,
And my eyes they are gleaming.

Recovering a belonging, I thought never I’d find,
Neither selfish nor selfless nor too wrong or right,
There are no conditions, no snares or old twine:
A free person, I greet you, and radiant I shine.

Oisín’s Song _ When Two Worlds Meet: Part 8

It was the beginning of December 2013. The day was a quiet, uneventful one. As evening fell, I found myself in front of the small electronic keyboard that my mom gave me this year. No one else in the family seemed to be interested in using it, and fortunately despite my apartment having minimal room, I did have space for it.

On that night, I was enjoying myself, making up songs and not thinking about much in particular. Then, unexpectedly, a melody filled my head, one I understood right away was not mine. Trying to catch onto the music before it was lost, I began playing it over and over, wondering whose it was. It sounded like an old lullaby which would be sung to a small child. When I was confident I could play the song without forgetting it, I got the answer to my question. This was Oisín’s song, and he wanted me to have it, to share with others in this world.

It was a few days later, another late evening, when Oisín excitedly sent me a picture which interrupted my thoughts. He had the lyrics to the song, and could I write them down with him? I got up from my computer and walked into my room, for some change in scenery and got out my Braille Note, the one that doesn’t distract me by speaking every letter I type. Through words, pictures, and conversation Oisín told the story of the song to me, through me. It was, as I thought, a song for a child. But I never expected his words would be for me.

Oisín’s Song

Hush there my darling and cease now your weeping
I and the trees watch over you,
See me where grasses breathe in the sunlight
Meet me where hummingbirds drink in the dew.

I am the song of the sky in the morning
I write the lyrics of new falling snow
When loneliness calls you I wait in its silence
Nearer or farther, wherever you go.

Though you doubt your worth often, the truth is your aching
With all that’s within you to let go and fly
Please don’t forget you were made with the stars’ dust
While you’re here growing, remember to shine.

Hush now my darling, the night has reclaimed you
Dream of the dawning of a world without fear
In you is the turning of life’s yearning motion
In you is the beauty of unfolding years.

So much to know and to see and to wonder
Eternal and fragile one, take in all you can
The joys of the world that surrounds you are fleeting
But they all hold the memory of each woman and man.

Trust in the strength that lies buried inside you
For you help shape the world through your words and your hands
You possess all that’s needed to center and guide you
And when you’re uncertain, know that I understand.

Hush there my darling there’s no need for weeping
Though while you’re alive you get battered and torn
If you were not here now the hills would be grieving
Better life’s sorrow than to have never been born

Think of the fireflies who emerge every evening
Think of the salmon that swim in the streams
With their flashlights and wisdom they dance what lies hidden
Without ever questioning what it all means.

I’ve seen through the eyes of a deer in the meadow
I’ve known the pain of separation and hate
I’ve lost those I love to the weight of their shadows
There’s still time for changing, it isn’t too late.

Hush now young dear one, and don’t give up trying
There is a place here for all you can share
Life isn’t easy but it’s worth every moment
All your wild longing, live out if you dare.

People are rushing through days strange and empty
With food on their tables, they’re starving for time
And for all that’s new out there to manufacture connection
They don’t come to belong to who they are deep inside.

No wonder it’s easy to get lost in the endless
Relentless refrain that you’re falling behind
To so much wanton wanting, know that you need not listen
You don’t have to hurry, you’re enough in my eyes.

Come now and rest for the time is to dreaming
Weaving the web of all that your days could hold
Just close your eyes now and come home to the rhythm
The heart beat of landscape, in the clay of your bones.

I watched you surrender to life and to healing
Your light mending silently the scars that you’ve known
I watched as your eyes changed from embers to hearth fires
And the joy of your knowing was also my own.

If you ever worry that you can’t do enough here
That the world tries to stop you from being all you can be
Know you’re not alone, and the world vast and humbling
Is great and mysterious, so much more than you see.

Hush and be still now, the time’s not for weeping
I am the song that you sing through your day
Nothing is lost, nothing is wasted
All the most beautiful moments remain.

I am the color of fog in the moonlight
I am the cry of a wakening child
I know the songs that seeds sing while their sleeping
Meet me where roads fade and the land becomes wild.

You’ve seen what I see, the world through my eyes
You know the path that is taken by few
The world that appears free of limits or lies
All exists intertwined, and I share it with you.

Hush there my darling and cease now your weeping
I and the trees watch over you,
You’ll see me where grasses breathe in the sunlight
Meet me where hummingbirds drink in the dew.

Enough For Me

Quietly, we sit so quietly,
Listening without a sound
To words that no one speaks aloud.

Silently, the world surrounds us silently,
The stars above us brilliantly
Shining through a tapestry

Shadows outline subtly,
Glowing fog against the green
Trees in mist, amidst the dark.

And suddenly her words become so clear to me
She says change, it comes so quietly
It happens
And only then will you realize you’re not the same.

For moments when nothing moves
Are moments when the greatest things occur
You go from thinking you know why
To not being all that sure

And if all that stumbling through the dark
Helps you remember who you are
Will you recall at all

The journey or the fall
The person who you were before?
When will it be enough?

Peacefully, I stand here waiting patiently,
The sun is rising joyfully,
And I sense night turn to day
Without the aid of sight

Gradually, the warmth comes softly back to me,
Lives are waking, motioning,
So immediate and wild.

Don’t you wish that you were like a child,
And still held wonder in your hands?
Live with earnest
Never worrying about the end.

If it comes down to letting go,
Relinquish all the pain you know,
Surrendering, you start to grow

Scrape up all the trust you left back then,
Start again.
How do you know you have enough?

Quietly, change, it comes so quietly
And suddenly, I’m no longer who I was,
But who I’ll be

Inside of me, I look for her inside of me,
For she is me,
And she is everything that changes,
And all that’s taking place.

Amazingly, the grays I saw so frequently,
Are gone, and now there are only blues and greens
Stitched across the many things I do.

Life shimmering, splashed water-colored in the rain
She’s crying for the world that’s hers by name
The truth she always knew.

So I turn
Just as spring is now returning
And we will still remain
And that’s enough, enough for me.

My Cherished You

My cherished you, my cherished you
So undefined like water, run
Perturbed, and turbulent you flow,
Unknown and still
Not understood.

Oh you who caused complacency
To decry its apathy, and fear remove,
Hold fast to ground with roots of love,
Hold on my love, my cherished you.

Oh you who from the pines’
Descending, scent after a rain
Fall, beat your droplet wings, pooling into sand,
Seeping — tear-dropped into palm.

Oh you who cling like crystaled ice
On every gnarled and broken branch
Scattered beneath the tree of life,
I offer you my two small hands.

My cherished you who cradles truth
As close as sea is rocked by land
Lost inside our winding youth,
Though we stir, we cannot stand.

Our foundations are the sands of seas
That motion shifts in shapeless change,
Til truth unwound is
Rearranged and older
We accept our wounds.

We often think you lie within the open
Arms of those we meet, the homes
We built with tears and sweat, sweet
Time enraptured presents lent, loved ones

We will not forget.
Happiness calls you its home,
In time, why
We’re terrified to say goodbye.

My cherished you, my cherished you,
The color of belonging, the song for which we yearn,
In every life, you shimmer through
Weave together each of us in turn.

We live again constrained by nothing
But our love, and patiently, outwait the world
Eyes open to a dazzling sun,
Once more the tapestry respun,
We call our lives our own.

My cherished you, endless, enough,
That is how the fight is won:
By simply showing each our love,
We light the way,
We rise above.