In this year of introspection, a typical day may have been assigned a certain direction before bedtime the day before. Today, I didn’t have a specific list of tasks, I just let my thoughts lead me. So, it started with coffee and a bit of light reading. I recently purchased a book that I’d discovered through posts on facebook. I purchased a copy, not only because the words shared in random posts seemed to speak my language, but also because it was self-published and appeared to be well marketed. I thought I could learn something from this author. I’ve been debating whether I should self-publish the book I finished in April… you know, the catalyst for this blog, and frankly, the other side of the debate is the voice of an old familiar bully that inquires who will want to read it, and will it be worth the investment at a time when an active income is not present. I recently made a new friend, a soul sister of sorts who found me through my blog after I posted my words on ‘pilgrimage’ on a site dedicated to Irish archaeology. She and I spoke on the phone last week for 4.5 hours straight. The synchronicities were endless, which explains why she found resonance in my writing… and more importantly, why the Universe guided me to post on that page a few weeks ago. We were destined to meet. Within our list of synchroncities was this book. [Have you read this, because it reminds me a little of your writing? Actually, I have it sitting right here, but I haven’t started reading it yet.] This week, she texted me a couple of page numbers to look up… one reference that reminded her of me, and one that spoke to her current situation – which feels similar to my own.
Yesterday, I woke up to a tip from a friend about a course that she felt I would enjoy and find benefit. This course was being offered through a well respected journal, which was mentioned by my new friend in our lengthy conversation last week – a suggestion for submitting my writing for the purpose of reaching more readers. So… twice mentioned in one week, I felt it a sort of divine guidance. There was an application process and a fee that would go through if you had been accepted into the course. It was not a small fee. I almost didn’t even think about it… I just clicked on the link, read the introduction, and started typing my proposal. I spoke to another friend about it, and though she had no doubt I would be accepted, we wondered together if they would accept anyone who paid the fee. Later that day, I received acceptance notification. I mentioned this to a friend at dinner last night, and when I wondered aloud about whether it was my writing or my money that gained my acceptance, he wondered back why I would jump so immediately to self doubt. Today, I found myself continuing the misery of toiling over my actions. The class doesn’t start until the end of September, and I can cancel up to 24 hours before it begins and only lose the application fee. I have been going over and over this internal argument, the core being a fear based thought of spending savings which is finite, but is also funding my year of freedom and exploration.
So, as I picked up this book that I’ve been holding onto to read passages referred to in recent text messages, I found resonance and support for exactly where I am. And when I continued reading, forward and back, I found something else… words on self-doubt. Not wanting to use her words, which are sacred, I will refer to the Shakespearean quote that rose up from the page just before the poem that meant so much to my friend: “Doubts are traitors that make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.” Huh… funny how the Universe uses people, places and things to inspire us and to provide answers… if we would only listen.
I took these words and felt I needed to go within to have a conversation with my stubborn, insecure inner self, so I ran a hot bath and scattered epson salt and essential oils. I played a meditation that I recorded to be played at my own funeral, inspired by my end of life doula studies, and dissolved myself in salty, fragrant water. I followed up that meditation with Phowa (poh-wuh) practice, which is a meditation from The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, which is suggested to be practiced often to be mindful enough to use at death or while supporting someone through dying. In this practice, you connect with your form of spirit or Universal golden light before you. You ask all negative karma, destructive emotions, obstacles and blockages to be purified and removed. You say to the light, “May I know myself to be forgiven for all harm I may have thought and done. May this practice allow me a good and peaceful death. Through the triumph of my death, may I be able to benefit all other beings, living and dead.” You imagine that the light receives your plea with love and compassion and that light is freely given to you as you are cleansed and purified by the Universal divine light… completely healed by the presence. You imagine that your body, free of past karma, dissolves into light, and you become one with the divine light of the embodiment of truth… and sit within this light.
As I sat within the light, I felt guided to go into nature. So, I got out of the tub and put on my bathing suit, grabbed my pool noodle, and went to the Spring. I don’t think this is something I would have done a year ago… to go off to a public place without a friend in tow. But I am not who I was a year ago. I parked my car and planted my blanket, book, and towel, and took my noodle to the water. I passed a big tough looking man on the stairs into the water, who was backtracking upon finding the water too cold to enter. I assured him that it would help to vocalize while just pushing forth into the frigid fluid. As I did so, noticing that my previous trips into these waters this summer allowed me to vocalize (imagine a kind of high pitched shriek) only briefly before finding my comfort, I glanced back to see the man I passed standing back away from the stairs, apparently defeated.
I floated into the water to find a spot that was free from the crowd. Seated atop my noodle, like sitting upon a paper moon, I waved my hands and feet beneath clear water to take in my surroundings. This is what I noticed. In this crowd of people who had come to the park to perhaps escape the heat of 90 degree weather, or to celebrate the kickoff of a holiday weekend, or the successful conclusion of the first week or two of school, I was alone, but not lonely. This was not the only indication of being in the minority. Of the many people who had come to the park today, I was one of only a handful of obviously (read: pasty white) Caucasian bathers. Everywhere I looked, skin tones were darker than mine and languages spoken were different from mine, as well. I asked myself how this made me feel, and this is what I got. So what? What I saw around me were people in love, holding each other and kissing as they shivered in the cold of the spring. I saw daddies who loved their daughters, as they coaxed them to swim toward them from the safety of a floating ring of protection. I saw groups of teenagers piling on shoulders to build a temple of joy and laughter. And I also saw that the big tough guy had found his courage, and was gleefully enjoying this gift of nature with the rest of us. I thought about that term to be “colorblind”, and what I thought was that I don’t want to be blind to the beauty of other cultures. I want to see them with clarity so that I can celebrate them and feel gratitude for them. I imagined how boring life would be if everyone looked, and spoke, and behaved like me. What a fucking ripoff that would be! No thanks. I want to be surrounded by every skin tone, every culture, every language… and be witness to freedom, joy, laughter, happiness, peace, comfort, and prosperity throughout this gathering of divine humanity. What a beautiful place I found myself guided to today.
I climbed out of the water and sat down to start reading this book I’ve been carrying for several weeks, and from the opening pages I found a story that is familiar. Not exactly the same as mine… but recognizing that core wounds in each of us may be similar, despite the differences of our environment and circumstances. I found myself arguing with the voice that negated my own suffering because it wasn’t as bad as what the writer endured. I also heard that old inner bully telling me that this writing is extraordinary, and that my writing isn’t as good… so I probably shouldn’t bother publishing. As I’m writing this, I wonder how I should reply to this inner bully. Should I tell her to sit down and shut up? Should I call her a liar and banish her from this reverie of connectedness? I take a deep breath and have decided differently. I have decided to take her into my arms, tell her that she is loved. I tell her that her words are valuable, my words are valuable, as are the words of every being with the willingness and capability to express themselves. It is through our words that we share stories, and it is through shared stories that we find commonality, compassion, kindred spirits, and homecoming. Stay tuned to find out if self-doubt wins. I hope it fails miserably, because frankly… I deserve better. We all do.
The book to which I have been referring is Toko-pa Turner’s Belonging. I’ve not even scratched the surface of its content… but I can assure you that there is great treasure here. As mentioned, I purchased the book with a sense that I could learn something from her excellent ability to be seen. I have a feeling I will find much more than I imagined. For the beautiful and abundant way that the universe delivers with consistency more wonder than I could have dreamed for myself… your presence among them, I am grateful. Thank you for walking this path with me. Happy Labor Day Weekend!