"I'm bogged down," 60-year-old Sam said with a sigh, as he sank into the easy chair, beside the hearth. A psychiatrist of some renown, Sam admits the events of this year are "getting" to him. "You know, as a 'shrink,' people don't think much about the fact that there are days people's stories are just too heavy. They're worse than the news! I didn't realize how much it's getting to me until I started your 21 day Challenge. ("What Would Jesus and the Dalai Lama Say to Tiger Woods and Mike Huckabee") It doesn't help that my wife's been pretty low, lately. Our daughter's giving her the silent treatment for Christmas, which doesn't help. Tiger's not the only one with problems. Maybe we should pipe Prozac into our water supply." With this, Sam cracks a little smile.
New Forms, Old Process. Despite the news avalanche surrounding Tiger Woods, he's not the only one standing on shaky ground. It is, however, the unexpected places that lead us to the real.
"The only time we ever know what's really going on is when the rug is pulled out and we can't find anywhere to land."
Our evolution toward authenticity takes leaps of faith. The challenge, like Sam's, is that we don't magically pop from darkness to the Light, the reconnected, without 'due process.' Perhaps this is what fascinates the public about debacles like Tiger's. Public fascination with the later is akin to our fascination with road-kill. On bad days, it seems 'we' cannot help ourselves but stare. Ed and Deb Shapiro put it this way in their recent best-seller, Be the Change: "...the mind is not always so ready to be still, it craves entertainment..." (p. 271).
We are drawn to the shadow-lands. Whenever there's a well-manicured persona getting confronted with a less-than-stellar secret life, the tension of opposites becomes grist for the storytelling mill. We pay prices for splitting. The downfall of heroes returns us to archetypal roots. Think Job, and before him, Osiris. Dismemberment precedes new growth. In the Osiris myth, the dismemberment was literal, whereas Job's came as plagues, disappointments. Whatever form it takes, be it, a child/mate/in-law/family member/friend giving us the 'silent treatment,' it is easy to lose sight that even this is part of the unavoidable process of both expanding our awareness and rewriting our connections and contributions as authentic creatures.
A Welcome Relief. Enter William Shatner and Sarah Palin. In the airing of Shatner's reading of Sarah's Going Rogue, ala Robert Bly style, and Ms. Palin's unexpected response, we are reminded that humor lives. And, why not? Both Shatner and Palin have traveled the frontier, the former, as Captain Kirk in "Star Trek", and Sarah, well, from the back porch of her home in Alaska. More recently, they are on a new trek that works through humor. Although their perspective differs, they performance connects us with something in short supply these days: a lightness of being. Taking ourselves too seriously, too much, is highly over-rated. In his interview with Ed and Deb Shapiro's Be the Change, Jack Kornfield puts it this way:
...we mistreat one another because we think of ourselves as separate beings; feeling separated from others gives rise to fear, confusion, self-protection, grasping, anger and aggression. These are all born out of ignorance and ...forgetting our interdependence in the Web of life." (p. 185)
A Search for the Lighter Side
Yes, Virginia, it is possible to restore some Lightness to the equation. Throughout the world, people of all cultures celebrate their gravitational struggle through the darkness, as they reconnect with the imperative of light, hope, community. To name but four: Hanukkah celebrates the restoration of Light, from a period of struggle. Christianity rejoices in the star's pronouncement of the eternal return of birthing Christ consciousness. Those into Winter Solstice, rejoice in the Eternal Return of Light in the darkness. And Kwanzaa celebrates deep connection through family and communal celebration of love. It doesn't get much better than this. Unless, that is, we find it in the everyday, which is the point.
Using the Everyday to Recover Your Connection with the Beauty of the Season. Examples of loving, touching connection abound. What uplifts our Spirit, and nourishes our Soul, can be found every single day. Witness the Circle of Love around one Miss Jasmine Snow. Each week since her birth nearly three months ago, a community gathers around Jasmine to 'love her up.' Although I did not know this sprite-like sweetie pie by name until two weeks ago, I could not resist what's been happening around her. Here, on new frontier, Miss Jasmine has been steadily evolving into quite the beauty. She does so in the arms of her mother, Rebecca, her grandma Michelle, and grandmother figure, Gwen. When mama is pooped, one of the elders slips into place, cradles little Jasmine, stroking her head, and showering baby with non-stop, heart-warming stroking, cooing, smiling, holding, bonding and attachment at their best within this Web of Life. Here, it's the easiest thing in the world to remember we're all one: Jasmine allows us to slip down into her eyes without pretence: dark blue watery pools of pure beauty and light that would restore a heart made of brick. No small wonder she neither cries nor fusses. Through this new life, we can't help but remember 'all's well.' Now, just imagine, what might the world be like if each of us not only gave this experience, but received love like this, as well? What if we chose to end the cold war with those who are at odds with us, and 'give it a rest?' It's the season, after all.
Four Fail-proof Measures You Can Take to Restore Your Spirit.
1. Invite a buddy to watch a few comedies with you this week. Humor has a healing effect on our physiology. Norman Cousin's classic, An Anatomy of an Illness, points out, in poignant ways, the imperative of restoring humor as a healing adjunct.
2. Find and Study the Ways of Baby Love, applying them to the 'you' that feels
bogged down. Visit with someone that 'holds' you in positive reflection. If
your inventory of such people is too low, start by reflecting a positive
glance to everyone you see today, known to you, or not. What goes around,
3. Identify someone that nourishes your Spirit. Let them know. Consider tithing some form of 'payment' to them, as a means of acknowledging, in concrete terms, that they are an invaluable source of treasure for you. If you are willing, send them a check, with the message that you are gifting them the funds as recognition of their importance in your life. A heartfelt letter would be great.
4. Write down the part of your own story that's been bogging you down, and give it a new twist. Think back to the Shatner/Palin renditions. Read yours aloud in a way that gets your humor going. Kick it up a notch: perhaps a recording of
jazz or drumming in the background? If you're stuck, play with 'singing' your
story, as if you were an opera star...anything that gets your funny-bone into gear again.
Let us hear from you. What helps you reconnect? What scenes have you noted that nourish you? Who would you like to acknowledge as a treasure in your life? What are you noticing/learning? I'm listening. Meanwhile, if you've not become a fan, and want to simplify, just press the 'fan' icon, and forward to your circle. Happy new trails! Love, Cara