Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.” -Pema Chodron
I love painting pictures with my words. It starts when I’m trying to figure something out. I visualize what I’m thinking in an animated or metaphoric way that helps me make sense of it. So, what is my carpet bag of baggage?
It’s a rug big enough to fit all the stuff I’ve collect along the various journeys of my-life. It’s an ugly carpet, full of untruths, most of them having to do with my self-esteem. It’s all tied together with the black rope of fear. I’m so used to carrying it around that I don’t even feel how much it’s weighing me down most of the time. It’s in those moments when I’m paying attention to life that it falls off my shoulder. It’s a wonderful feeling as if I’ve sucked in some helium and I’m floating right above the ground. And I wonder why it can’t be like this all the time.
When the black rope of fear sees me happy it starts to untie itself around the carpet. Moving like a snake. Fear knows I’m afraid of snakes. It’s the way it gets my attention. As the carpet bag begins to slowly open all the dreadful demeaning voices jump around shouting me, me, me pick me. All it takes is for me to believe one demeaning thought of worthiness, and I’ll find myself standing upon the rug that fear uses, to pull the joy right out from under me.
But I’m seeing a little clearer now. They say, you have to see what needs changed, before you can change it. As the quote says about, “nothing goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.” I’m learning one thing for sure, that as big as fear looks, what lies on the other side of it is majestic.
I posted the other day about being a ward of the state when I lived in Philadelphia. As I mentioned it’s been 50 years since I ran away from Stenton Child Center. I was 15, and the year was 1968. The same year Martin Luther King was assassinated. I can remember to this this day the screams I heard from the supervisors, and the other black girls in my section. I was one of the few white girls living in a prominently black community. I knew little about him, but then I didn’t know much about anything that was going on in the world. I was too busy worrying about what was going on in my little world.
I won’t get into all I went through in this post. What I will say is that no white person could ever possible know what it’s like to be in a black person’s shoes. I did, however, know how it felt to be a minority among the black people. Eventually there was no color between us, we were all in there for the same reason, and that became our bond. So, for a short time we were living Dr. King’s dream of equality for all in our own little part of the world. Unfortunately, when he died the bond between us was severed again, and we went back to being black and white instead of just human beings.
People ask me all the time; how did you live through all that and turn out to be okay? Like Martin Luther King, I had a dream too, and believed in a God who said it was possible. But God never gives us anything we don’t have to work at. Whether it’s a young girl dreams or a strong man’s passion, nothing is handed to us without hard work and sacrifice. I don’t have to wonder if dreams come true. I am living proof that they do, but keeping that dream alive takes work too. Maybe if we all had a dream of better things instead of focusing on what divides us we’d see the one thing that makes us all the same…our humanity.
The Story of the Hummingbird
Michael Nicoll Yahgullanaas
One day a terrible fire broke out in a forest – a huge woodlands was suddenly engulfed by a raging wild fire. Frightened, all the animals fled their homes and ran out of the forest. As they came to the edge of a stream they stopped to watch the fire and they were feeling very discouraged and powerless. They were all bemoaning the destruction of their homes. Every one of them thought there was nothing they could do about the fire, except for one little hummingbird.
This particular hummingbird decided it would do something. It swooped into the stream and picked up a few drops of water and went into the forest and put them on the fire. Then it went back to the stream and did it again, and it kept going back, again and again and again. All the other animals watched in disbelief; some tried to discourage the hummingbird with comments like, “Don’t bother, it is too much, you are too little, your wings will burn, your beak is too tiny, it’s only a drop, you can’t put out this fire.” And as the animals stood around disparaging the little bird’s efforts, the bird noticed how hopeless and forlorn they looked. Then one of the animals shouted out and challenged the hummingbird in a mocking voice, “What do you think you are doing?”
And the hummingbird, without wasting time or losing a beat, looked back and said, “I am doing what I can.”
I often feel like the tiny hummingbird in this great big world. Only I am more like the animals that stand in at the edge of the stream watching the chaos happening right in front of me. I become so overwhelmed by the size of the problem that all I think about is the problem itself rather then what I can do to put the fire out that the problem created in the first place. We all hear the gentle buzz of the hummingbirds’ wings inside us. It’s that little tiny voice trying to be heard over the roar of the fire. It’s calling us to do something. But how can little-ol-me do anything to change what’s wrong in the world? There’s always something we can do whether we can fly the plane that drops tons of water or fly like the little hummingbird with one drop at a time. We do what we can…simple by using what we’ve been blessed with to make a difference.
What happens when you rub two sticks together? It creates friction, and that friction creates fire. You build the fire by adding sticks and once it takes off your ready for the logs. The more logs you throw on the bigger it gets. That’s what happens with our negative outlooks. Each person throwing another log on the fire only makes the fire burn out of control.
As I wonder what to write about in the heat of all the turmoil going on in our country, I feel as if I’m up against a big bonfire that’s out of control. Where does an optimist fit into all this and what do I have to offer, but a bucket of water. Even though It’s not enough to put the fire out, I have to believe that by being true to my nature maybe, just maybe, my bucket of water can slow it down a little.
“Optimism gives us bread crumbs of hope. Whether they lead to a rainbow is not the point. What matters is that we are given enough crumbs to keep going.” -Martin Seligmam*
Pessimism has already tried to rob me of my optimistic outlook on life. When I ask myself, how I could let this happen I’m able to see the fear, helplessness and lack of control I’ve let overwhelm me. It’s really not easy to be an optimistic, it takes a lot of work to remain positive in a negative situation. So I have to look beneath the troubles to remind myself of what I do have control of. Than I have to stop feeding the fire with my own thoughts by watching what I let seep into my mind, and slip out of my mouth.
We need all kinds of people to make the world a better place. Being true to myself I ask how can I help. Certainly not by burying my head in the sand. Everyone should be informed as to what’s going on in the world. It’s the amount of attention I give it, that makes or breaks my optimism. So working at being true to myself and giving hope beneath the misery, that’s my work. For what would be left to hold onto if we stop believing in what hope has to offer. I have a lot of work to do as I brush away all the residue that still hangs on. It won’t be easy with the controversy playing out everywhere I go. So I have to dig a little deeper, hang on to that hope and share where it takes me.
* “Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life” by Dr. Martin Seligman, a renowned psychologist.
LPhoto from Life Quotes
Sometimes the truth can be so twisted and distorted that the lie becomes our truth, and the truth becomes the lie. But we always have that inner voice knocking on the door to our heart. It’s the one go to we have, that we can rely on to untangle the ugliness in our life.
Yesterday I talked about resistance. Today I’m focused on going with the flow. It reminds me of when I went white water rafting with my family. How the river pulled us along its current. I remember thinking how hard it would be to try to paddle against it. It would be an endless struggle going against its resistance. As we floated along there were lots of obstacles in the way that we had to work our way around. If we lost our focus it would have been easy to get stuck. That’s when panic and fear can set in causing us to easily become disoriented. Thank goodness we had helpers floating around us who could get us unstuck.
Real life is this way. We can be floating along going with the current of life. Than suddenly we get stuck by the obstacles that get in our way. Confusion sets in. We find ourselves resisting the direction we need to go. Fear comes into play, followed by disillusionment and we become disoriented. There is no one to help us get unstuck. Even with God’s help we can’t become unstuck until we are willing to let go of that which stands in our way.
As I prepare for Thanksgiving day instead of focusing on all the work there is to do, and what comes after this holiday. Remembering the people I love and how thankful I am to have them in my life reminds me what Thanksgiving is all about in the first place. Being in the flow of all I have to be grateful for keeps me centered and focused on the direction I’m going.
Wow! It’s a whole lot easier to float along the current of love. I’m also finding it to be a lot more fun!
“If you look for the truth outside yourself, it gets farther and farther away.” -Tang-Shan Liang-Chich
To me this quote is a great reminder to bring it all in. It’s also a great example as we wind down to the last 3 days before the election. We cannot make a choice based on all the conflicting information that takes us away from what we base our own truth on. How does each candidate resonate with my own belief and truths? There’s this inner knowing that we all have within us. It’s a nagging voice that’s trying to be heard beneath all the other noise that the ego entertains. Where does the ego look for its truth but from that which it attaches itself to on the outside?
What does this all create, but a division within ourselves. If there is a division within us then it’s going to create a division outside of us, and it spreads like a disease. It has already become prevalent in our country. Now the concern is that whoever gets into office, the division will continue. I don’t want to be a part of planting this seed. All I can do is pull out the negative weeds it’s begun to grow in me.
The bottom line for me is in the clarity of the statement above. Look for the truth within your heart and soul. Don’t let the ego lead you astray. Some would say I don’t’ rely on myself. I rely on God. Well where do you think God exist? Within each of us. He didn’t create us to push aside who we are. He created us that He could experience life through us and with us. But it takes our cooperation and willingness to work as One. I have learned in my own life that when I’m feeling that sense of division it’s a sure sign that I’ve drifted away from the truth within. Until I find my way back I become a part of the problem that contributes to the division all around me.
As Saint Francis so simply taught, having peace on earth, can only happen when we first find it in ourselves.
“The secret of having it all is knowing you already do.” -Unknown
When you look at the people in Louisiana who have lost so much, it makes you stop for a moment, and as we look around at all we have, it’s hard to imagine what it would be like to lose it all. When you watch how the people come together helping one another it is then that you see the truth. That sometimes in losing we find something greater within ourselves. Something that we may have never known about our humanity until we knew what it meant to have nothing but ourselves. That the secret of having it all is knowing you already do.
To find yourself, think for yourself. –Socrates
I’ve been working on unplugging my own connection to the political news channels. This picture is a perfect depiction of how we let ourselves become attracted to the media. We get so caught up in it that we can’t distinguish between our own thinking and that of which we’re letting sink into our psyche. I heard someone recently say, we are all capable of making up our own minds, and not being influenced by the media or what others say. The Today show and the nightly news inform me enough to trigger the questions I can research myself.
We have this innate ability to know what’s right and wrong. You can see with your own eyes and hear with your own ears to make your own decision. Even when a person is a good liar, and you’re not sure what to believe. Don’t ask someone else to tell you what they think. Do the research for yourself to find the answers you need.
Yes, I’m referring to politics here. However, I think it goes much further into all areas of our life, and it should be a good lesson for us to examine our own thought process. We are the ones who hold our own remote controls. What we should be tuning into each day is the wireless connection that makes us who we are. It’s always the truth that sets us free. If you want to know who you are and what your truth is, then start thinking for yourself.