Boundaries are vitally important, and getting intimate with where yours fall is part of this ongoing process of self-care and self-discovery.
But if you're anything like me, I suspect that some of those boundaries have morphed from privacy fence to prison wall. And perhaps you, like me, have noticed your perimeter getting smaller and smaller and that you've begun to gaze at your walls rather than approach them.
And it begs the question (for me, at least)--where did that intrepid wall-climber go? Where did the rebel disappear to? When did the tester of limits, the darer of the unknown, vanish? And how long will I keep myself prisoner before I realize that this is no longer self-preservation, but habit?
So maybe it's time to gain a little ground, to get a little perspective. Not from the top, necessarily, not right away. But a peek over the edge? The view from a convenient tree limb? I think that might be a very good start.
I'd like to think our profound, seemingly infinite, capacity for fear is a misplaced inheritance for storytelling. Perhaps this is all it is: our brain, trying to connect dots in the most creative way possible. After all, we all know how well disaster sells...
And maybe there's no way to stop the relentless story line, but if we could just see it for what it is--mostly fiction, then perhaps we'd breathe easier through our hard days.
I am quite certain I almost ruined my life in the pursuit of perfection. I'm not even sure whose definition I was following; most likely it was the most dangerous--one made up entirely in my poor, addled and misguided brain. But even recognition is rarely enough. We become so wedded to the idea of perfection, so thin-skinned yet strong-willed, afraid, eventually, even to leave the house for fear of marring the image, giving in to temptation, falling apart.
But at the same time, what's all that work for if not to be seen? It's the blessing and the curse--to be seen is too much and not enough. How much easier some days would be if we were carved from marble, unchanging, unfeeling, unambitious, but, what? Un-moving? Unmoved?
There are people out there comfortable with themselves or, if not comfortable, comfortable with their discomfort, comfortable with our universal imperfections. They are the truly charismatic, the authentically present souls we're inevitably drawn to. They are the truly...
I always think of myself as a personality magpie, hurrying away with bits and pieces gleaned from charismatic cultures and people, sifting through what feels true for me. I don't know if that's the typical way of carving out a personality, or if it's just that that's my personality, full stop. Follow the trail for too long, and the conversation gets a bit heady and needlessly meta.
Or maybe we magpies do it as survival instinct--the easiest path to fitting in or standing out, depending on one's leaning. Either way, and no matter who you are, for most of us, the true self is the one we meet when we're alone, and if she can keep you company, then I have a feeling we're doing something right.
Looking back, maybe our lives seem like a straight trajectory, but as we all too well know, that's almost never the case in day-to-day living. Each choice we make radiates away from us an endless, infinite variety of smaller choices--rhizomes of possibility, if you'll allow me a gardening metaphor in spite of the snow.
Straight lines make me nervous--they're too much like one-way streets that, once started down, there's no easy way to turn back. No short way, anyway. Instead, I like to think of our trajectory as a circle with countless criss-crossing and looping paths connecting one edge to another.
In a circle, we can never get lost. All we need to do is choose another path that will, eventually, inevitably lead us back to the source.
It's not that we should cease looking within, it's that we've become so addicted to it that we've become myopic, unable to focus on the bigger picture, the wider horizon. It's more that we've trained ourselves too well--yes, our impact is important, yes knowing our motivations is helpful for leading a kind and loving life, but we've forgotten one key fact: it's not all about us.
If someone is quite obviously having a bad day, it isn't your fault. If the car in front of you hits a squirrel on your morning commute, it isn't your fault. If your boss/teacher/parent closes her door while on the phone, they aren't discussing your shortcomings.
Petals, we are doing our best. Now we just have to trust and rest our eyes on something beautiful.
I've always loved that expression, 'true grit'--it doesn't leave much to the imagination, you know what you're getting, and what you can handle. Very bad-ass Clint Eastwood. And maybe it's something I aspire to. I've never been a cynic or a skeptic, but I'm not quite a romantic either. I'm more of a girl who likes a good story and hopes that, one day, she'll have one to tell.
Maybe that's all we can hope for in this world--to be the heroes of our own stories, to take up the pen and write the damn history ourselves, from the perspective of those who lived it.
I wake up every morning, hoping things will be different, better--but never expecting it. I think, perhaps, that's where I'm going wrong. Even if we don’t get it, if we could only genuinely expect the best from ourselves, from this day, certainly that would make us a more deserving legacy for those who, with so much less certainty, hoped for so much more.
There's a reason we zone out from time to time, and there's a reason that one-point meditation (focusing on a candle flame, a mandala, etc.) is so soothing and so revealing. Our eyes need time to adjust, not to what's before us, but to what's behind what's before us. Passive study, at least in my experience, is how the universe reveals itself to us, whether we're struck motionless by the impact of a landscape, the intricacy of a detail of shell or leaf, or the mundane familiarity of the objects we encounter daily. (I can't tell you how many times these daily blog posts reveal themselves to me while I stare at my pot of pencils...).
What we see matters very little--how we see makes all the difference.