Tuesday, March 03, 2009

in need of a good flushing.

If life is not a problem to be solved but rather a mystery to be lived, we have a lot of emptying to do before we can let go of the control panel and simply ride the mystery train. The reasons for our need to ensure a desired outcome may be fertilized with different compost materials, most of us folks are simply afraid to fail. Consequently, we try and try to avoid it at all costs....until the pain of where we are is worse than the pain of change. Until then, we remain stuck on the same note, in the vinyl groove of discord. But once we hit this pain threshold when the panic alert button seems to go off inside ourselves, we begin to act.
Fear of failure is by no means the only reason why we try to skip town before our own internal chaos forces us to dump out our overflowing cups. There are many reasons and when they are seen through the eyes of a unique human being (you, me, him, her....whomever) they make the reasons take on new meanings. Fear of disapproval of family, the need to be liked by everyone, obsessions, addictions, lack of confidence, biases, abuse...fear of being abandoned, being rejected....

There is a transition which happens during periods in our lives when big change is happening before we have the ability to enter a place where emptiness takes hold and we are capable of letting go of whatever we are using to control/stop/avoid the outcome. In that transition, there is a recognition that sacrifice plays a role. No two ways about it, sacrifice hurts. We'll put up big walls, BIG obstacles to avoid giving up something even if it isn't working for us. Embrace what you know is the mantra....better the devil you know and not the one you don't know, right?

Its a push/pull point in the process that feels tantamount to death. We have the capacity to hover over the line between fear and hope for a very long time. WHY? Well, I wonder if its because when we look at an empty vessel, we see it as nothingness? Instead, maybe we need to learn how to see emptiness as a rebirth. From a seed of change comes life altered.

Change leads to rebirth. Nothingness may be the black cloak covering our internal fear and perception of emptiness, where brokenness and vulnerability lay in wait, but its only our interpretation of it. Emptiness does not lead to nothing.....emptiness can lead to the rebirth of the soul.

If it is a gain worth having....be it freedom, love, happiness, peace, is it worth losing everything else in the process?? This is the question we face in the chaos of letting go. Knowing what you want is partially made up of knowing what you have to give up. This is where we sit in the transitional battlefield. And most of this battlefield is tucked away from the sight of others inside our minds full of chaos and turmoil. Our inner struggles as we make decisions and wrestle over the control of our destiny however often spill out. Our actions and our feelings tend to betray us. Though we desperately try to keep a rein on them because it SO important in our minds that we continue to "have it all together....." others in our lives see the truth before we do. We are so busy fighting against change that we can't see that others may see more than we do.

And what do others who love us do? They try to "fix" it....out of LOVE, mostly. No one likes to see someone else in pain....in the throes of change. It hurts like hell to watch someone strip away the layers of skin, to stand naked in the eyes of a personal storm, ill equipped it seems to succeed in the battle. So, we toss the advice...we take over, we try to solve it for them....we put our best love at their feet wrapped in gifts and guidance. They also give opinions, shower judgement, react like it's impacting them personally. They can downplay too....or simply ignore the angst because they have a specific view of who you are and what you represent they are not ready to relinquish.

The visible visceral gut churning reaction to the emotional pain of another is to offer it a salve or a solution. Band-aids over the bleed.....antiseptic on the scrape.....antibiotic cream on the cut.... this is what we do for a human being suffering through their battle for control, their battle to avoid decisions which will lead to changes and sacrifices. Either that, or we run away from it and avoid that person because we don't want to get involved or we don't want to "take it on..." Who wants to watch someone suffer so much?

"Consolation is a beautiful word, " wrote Father Henri Nouwen. "It means 'to be with the lonely one.' to offer consolation is one of the most important ways to care. Life is so full of pain, sadness and loneliness that we often wonder what we can do to alleviate the immense suffering we see. We can and must offer consolation.....
.....To console does not mean to take away the pain but rather to be there and say, 'You are not alone, I am with you. Together we can carry the burden. Don't be afraid. I am here.' That is consolation. We all need to give it as well as receive it."

When the unrelenting panic hits warp speed, when we are in the throes of change and are at our emotional tipping point where the pain of where we are finally overrides the pain of change, I can't think of a more soothing response from a person who cares than the words and action of consolation to help ease the transfer onto the mystery train. Touch without judgement, be it in words or in the comfort and the warmth of a hand held out passes on a stillness necessary to accept the inevitable....and enough hope to see through to another day.

under the smile of the moon, on Saturday at twilight.


Anonymous said...

consolation and compassion are my favourite verbs.....

and nouwen? well, what more can anyone say... a saint

ps, thanks for the email - it was piptastic

Gilly said...

My emptiness led to nothingness and hospitalised mental illness. Now, several years further on, I am ready to empty everything and go. What to, I don't know. I used to have a firm faith in a heaven. Now, who knows?

Consolation sounds wonderful. I've never met it.

Anonymous said...

If it is a gain worth having....be it freedom, love, happiness, peace, is it worth losing everything else in the process??

I dont believe we have to lose all, to gain love nor happiness, peace, freedom but especially love...

and if we are ever in a period of transition often it is consolation or a gesture of compassion (and they need not know the demon we are fighting)

but through anothers touch, real or emotional can give us that strength, can say I believe in you (when we have often given up belief in ourself) that can give us the strength and energy to move forward.

I hope that makes sense, I may be projecting my own current situation here, but it also means Ive related to your well thought words... good, thought provoking post... Abbey

Awareness said...

paul...as i began writing last night Nouwen's words returned to me and seemed to sum up more succinctly than anything i could write.

I'm glad you enjoyed the email. A bit of L-5 across the waves?? You two would've been the only ones I would've let into the Darby room last night!

Gilly...Can you send me your email? I have an article I would like to send you. It is an interview between a Canadian journalist and Jean Vanier. I just loved it...read it last night and I believe you would find it very enlightening and consoling.

also, while I was writing this, I sought out a book I purchased a few years back and picked it up to seek out the quote i used in this piece. I ended up falling back into it again like i had a new set of eyes... I HIGHLY recommend it to you as a little consolation my friend.

It is a daily journal of inspirational thoughts by Henri Nouwen...Bread for the Journey. I just love it.

If we were closer, I'd like to sit with you to drink tea together and talk about life and gardens and faith and whatever came up in the conversation.

Awareness said...

A'Jay...I'm so glad you mention this because i completely missed writing that point. I wrote the piece last night and then looked at it this morning and realized I didn't emphasize that once we wrestle with the feeling we WILL lose everything, we then realize that its not true...

affirmation through compassion and consolation from another is just enough sometimes to fire us up to find our own inner strength to make the decision...just the very thought that the whole world isn't going to go away if we decide to take new steps, to make changes etc.

i wholeheartedly agree...thank you for adding your thoughts.


Awareness said...

Gilly, my email address is on my profile page. and if i don't get back to you right away, its because i will be on the road travelling over the next couple of days...but I WILL!

Barbara(aka Layla) said...

This is one of your best ever, or perhaps its just impacting me dramatically because of where I am and what I am going through. I think it should be "must reading" for all human beings.

Walker said...

Dispair is the empty vessel because all you see in it when you look is what you hate and it consumes who are and who you become and in most cases it who you end up hating.
Loving yourself in t he only way out of the bottle and then you make get at least one wish that will come true,
The others you don;t need because you would have what you want

Awareness said...

Layla...the genesis of this post occured on Fri. night when i found myself on a "wine tour" ....! Everywhere I went, i was offered a glass of wine...it was GREAT! I ended up at my friend Caroline's house. She opened THE best bottle of red and we were off to the races. She threw a quote out onto the table during our conversation...."Change only occurs when the pain of where you are is worse than the pain of change.... It stuck with me and generated my thinking.
It is the first go around...i would like to add something similar to what A'Jay has offered here.

Walker...have to chew on that...will be back.. :)

Awareness said...

Walker...sorry it took so long for me to reply....i needed to get my head clear from the long drive this week.

Despair seems to me to be connected with resentment. We tend to swallow resentment which to me is like swallowing poison and expect the other person to die! Despair also sits in the lonely dwelling of depression and sometimes its very difficult to garner the strength to pull out of it.

it's a vicious circle isn't it? I mean, of course it is loving yourself that will eventually pull your out of the rut of despair, but when the world looks so sombre and grey and it zaps you of thinking clearly and it is when hope seems to skip town.

The loved ones around you are your anchor in times of feeling so inadequate that you don't have the guts to look in the mirror and see your own goodness and beauty....that and a good anti-depressant helps. :)

Walker said...

Life is a vicious circle mostly because it doesn'ty slow down for anyone.
Many people give up when they see no end in sight then get lost with despair.
Despair and resentment.
I would think resentment would be the bi-product of despair.
Failure leading to despair then resentent because life isn't what you want it to be.
All people have left then, is resentment.

I have seen beautiful people get lost with despair only to become ugly with resentment.

Deffinite not my fa,ily LOL and anit depressent....only if it's a field of primo herb.
I live next door to mine.

Anonymous said...

Dana this could have been written specifically for me and I am taking a copy of it if that's ok just for my own reference. It made me think long and hard about my life and where I'm going and thankfully in a different way to how I have been thinking.

There cannot be enough said for compassion and consolation. Sometimes the only thing that stops you from falling over the edge of the precipice is the understanding words of a friend. Thankyou Dana.