Recently, I had a conversation with a friend of mine. We were discussing how we were both feeling overwhelmed by our personal and professional obligations. My friend is a passionate educator and a devoted wife and mother. She juggles her theatre students, shows, her son’s theatre schedule, and her other son’s soccer schedule. She and her husband have been together since high school. And through all the storms of life, she makes it seem so simple. And that observation will drive her crazy. She related to me, while we spoke, that it frustrates her to no end when people ask her, “how do you do it?” Her polite reply is always, “I wish I knew.” Her interior monologue is, “what the fuck are you talking about? I’m barely holding on to my sanity!”
These feelings she shared remind me of an excerpt from the book, “The Invitation” by Oriah. In the book she says, “It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up, after a night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children.” This is an extremely powerful statement. Can you? Have you? Will you?
Often we are completely unaware of how we keep going. We walk through our pain and grief, and despair much like Jacob Marley, weighed down by the chains we have forged in our lives. The honest truth is I rarely know how I make it through the tough times. My last major heartache I survived with anti-depressants, alcohol, and a violent temper that ignited far more often that I am even comfortable thinking about. I am not proud of that time in my life. And I know we all have those moments that we think back upon and hang our head in disgrace. But each of these moments is an opportunity to build on our mindfulness to deal with the next moment. Every pain, every heartache that we suffer is the key we can use to unlock our genuine selves. Each of these moments in which we wonder how we do it, how we make it through, holds the answer to that very question. Are we brave enough to look to see the answer?
Some times that answer may be as simple as FDR’s advice, “if you have reached the end of your rope, tie a knot and hold on.” All you may be able to do in those moments is will yourself to place one foot in front of the other and keep moving through your life. But, it is the courage to take one more step that makes all the difference.
In her book, Oriah also wonders, “It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain. I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.” Those times that overwhelm us, those times that kick us in the face and laugh as we lie crying on the floor, those moments where we just don’t think we can go on; how have we faced them? Is it straight on with bravery, compassion, and love? Or, is it like a zombie that cannot feel pain because it isn’t truly alive? Or do we face this life filled with anger and resentment? Acknowledging our true coping skills is the first step.
I readily admit that my ability to face the toughest parts of life with bravery are far less frequent than my zombie approach or worse my anger. But, as I consciously work to improve myself I find that love and compassion move in more quickly to take the place of the resentment. I by no means have all the answers. I often wonder how I have the nerve to write some of the things I write, when I clearly do not have my shit together. But it is a start, it is a hope, it is a fervent passion to change myself that keeps me moving forward.
I wish for each of us the ability to face our toughest moments with love and compassion. That does not mean we don’t feel pain, heartache, or despair. It means we can sit with that pain and move forward with a lighter heart.
- The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer (indiabeeyoga.com)
- The Invitation (dancingenchantment.wordpress.com)
- The Invitation (by Oriah Mountain Dreamer) (iwishiwasaspy.wordpress.com)
- It doesn’t interest me to know what you do for a living. (lovelysummer70s.wordpress.com)