"Best to lay low today, you know," mumbled the sweating, balding, portly, 60-something guy on the treadmill to my right. Pointing to the monitor overhead, tuned to Fox News, his rant continued: "Look at what's going on: drug wars on our borders, people losing their homes, AIG bonuses to crooks. No good has ever come to me on Friday the 13th!" Based on his attitude, I was sure he'd attract the same. As one of you named it last week, this poor soul had to be The Curmudgeon's Club's charter member. As for joining into our "Spewing Joy Project", we can safely assume he'd want no part of it. His life has lost all Wonder. Clearly, he's a 70 percenter.
Are You in the 30% or 70% Club? If we don't leave space for the Unknown, we'll never discover the amazing. The sad thing is that 70% of our population is completely closed to anything new, devoted to bad news. Of the remaining 30%, 17% are curious, and 13% are open. By virtue of the fact that you read what's here in the Living Section, that places you in the curious, open, or 'curiously open' part of the Bell Curve. Which means, my friend, fasten your seatbelt for the spectacular to meet you in the most surprising ways. Of course, you've got to be willing, as Rumi puts it, to:
"Let yourself be silently drawn by
The stronger pull of what you really love."
After the gym, while hosing off in the shower, I reviewed my situation. My last client called to reschedule due to an emergency root canal. Ouch. I was neither drawn to calls I've got to return, nor errands to run. Then, there's this column to write. The stronger pull was to the incredibly beautiful, sunny in Seattle afternoon. I didn't want it to slip by without an honorable mention. It was simply too ripe with possibilities. With my well too dry to write, speak, or fritter the time away 'trying to do' the list, I scrapped the plan, packed my bag, and headed out to catch an earlier ferry for Bainbridge Island. If I were lucky, I might make it to the Blackbird Bakery before closing.
Blasphemy or Blessing?
Now, I realize, that to the 70% folks, making this choice, as opposed to 'laying low,' appears irresponsible. "Our world," Joseph Chilton Pearce points out, "looks at play as a waste. Frugal hard work is the ideal. That we are born to enjoy life is anathema to church, government, and industry. We must win the luxury of enjoyment through hard work, or purchase it on credit. In truth, in dying, we who have worked so hard and never played will be just as dead as a dead senoi who lived his life in joyful play." All I know is that drawing back from my heart's directive has never improved the situation.
There are times when our Spirit refuses all attempts at suffocation. The 'to do' list must go, and our obsession with circumstances. There are times when who we are demands we rise up, and create what is relevant.
Confessional: I must admit that as I drove down Madison to catch an earlier ferry, I felt a tiny twinge of guilt, like the school kid ditching school early on a March Friday. In surround sound beauty, the Olympic and Cascade Mountains, and Mount Rainier have never been more striking against the clear, blue sky. Lake Washington's water was smooth as glass. As for the salty scent of Puget Sound, well, it doesn't get much better! The entire show, for free! With a heart swelling with gratitude, I did not know this story would only get livelier.
Now, routinely, I grab my green tea on board, returning to my car to catch the soothing back and forth rocking of the waves against the boat. But, on this day, the urge in my heart was otherwise. Settling into my niche by the window, the quietude ended abruptly, but sweetly, as an exuberant mob of 20+ kids paraded through the cabin. With that sort of energy we elders would love to bottle and imbibe, boys, girls, teens, and young adults joked, snapped pictures, (with actual cameras, no less), and interacted with one another in a most unusually present way. With nary a cell phone in sight, these young people connected in profoundly beautiful ways, scampering together, delighting in sights beyond windows and deck. Hand in hand they moved, as one family, Black, white, and brown skinned, in unison. Radiant joy in action.
I could not resist.
Two women in the group, Elaine and Gael, told me their story. From Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia), their tour is called "Expression of Reformation." I asked them for a song. Without a second's self-conscious hesitation, these bright, shining faces, with the most radiant smiles I've ever witnessed, began. In their native tongue, sprinkled with a bit of English now and then, this was a sound from Soul. I could not stop my tears. Beauty had its way with me. You would never imagine that these very people came from a land of 90% unemployment, a people who are 1 in 3 HIV/AIDs positive, and who are starving. It costs 10 trillion z-dollars for one loaf of bread. This is not a typo. What this is I'd call 'love in action.' Clearly, these are 13% members!
I want you to know that in the midst of this heaven on earth, I thought of you, and held you in my heart. Be assured our "Spewing Joy Project" is alive and well, despite those who'd argue only for bad news. Martha Graham puts it this way:
"There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, the expression is unique. If you block it, it will never exist through any other medium. It will be lost...Keep the channel open..."
I'd love to hear from you! What is the stronger pull that you love, that inspires, renews you? That yanks you away from what feeds your soul? What have you noticed lately about the openess of your own channel? I welcome all responses, suggestions, questions, feelings, links, getting back to you as quickly as I can. Come back for a visit! The group I mentioned may be reached at Celebration Ministeries International, Harare, Zimbabwe; celebrationmin.org; email@example.com. Don't miss them or their CD's!
Dr. Cara Barker is the author of World Weary Woman: Her Wound and Transformation; Grieving the Loss of Your Child, The Listening Heart, Holding Hands, Sacred Time, Sacred Space,(in press), Living Love(in press), and many other works. Jungian Analyst, Nurse Practitioner, and artist, Barker has been referred to as 'The Heart Whisperer.'