When I lived in Newfoundland
I used to ride my bike to work
And sometimes the wind off the ocean would be so strong
I’d have to peddle going down hill.
And on those days I’d battle the wind
Fighting tooth and nail
Trying to make it to work on time
And then in Montreal winters
Walking to school
A cold wind would hit me as I turned a corner
Tunneled by the buildings
Picking up speed
Chilling me to the bone
And now living in a small community in BC
I’ve found a different kind of wind
The winds of emotions
Of trying to live and work together
Of trying to make things work and disagreeing about how
And I’ve been standing in this wind being pummelled again
Thinking “Why me?”
“I’m just the messenger.”
And then the other day
I remembered if I spread my wings at just the right angle
I can catch the wind and lift up
The birds don’t spit at the wind
They allow it to help them to soar
So I’m learning not to run away
I’m learning to face
Choose my angle
I’m not quite sure where it starts. But at some point I realize there’s a voice that’s questioning every decision that I make. “Is that really a good idea?” “Do you really need that?” And the hidden message is really – do you really deserve that? Are you really worthy?
And right now is one of the moments. As I sit in my bed typing I have this sinking feeling in my chest. I want to sleep. I don’t want to be seen. I want it to go away. This voice tells me to hide and keep all of my actions secret so others won’t discover “what a horrible person I truly am”.
And when it gets to this stage it affects all my choices – from what to have for dinner to whether or not to buy a Macbook Air.
And I’m amazing at coping. It’s happened before and I know how to ride it out – putting off making important decisions or getting a level headed friend to help. Pretending I’m totally fine and thinking that other’s don’t notice my edginess. Smiling. Getting the work done.
But I want to do more than cope. I want to get to the roots and pull them out. I want to find out where this shame is coming from. And I want to be free.
This time it started with a busy day where people were sick and didn’t let the office know. I was coordinating the work schedule so spent a lot of time trying to figure out where people were and to find coverage for them. And then I called a community meeting to explain the importance of communicating if you can’t come to work. I also had a disagreement with a co-worker. And then talked again later to resolve the issue.
I was mad and I was tired and I was stressed. And then it was like this anger came up and then at some point was turned on myself.
The voice emerged – “Does everyone dislike me now that I called them out?” “Did I really need to say anything?” “Was the disagreement my fault?” “Am I good person at all?”
So I’m practicing believing I have worth even when it’s at its loudest. Trying to take baby steps towards shameless living. Buying the computer even though the voice thinks I’m not worth it. And using the car to transport boxes of magazines even when the voice says:
“You should walk.
Do you really want to pollute the environment with that gasoline?
Are you just being lazy?
And what if someone else needs to use the car?
Someone doing something more important.
Someone more important.”
And I think its working even though it’s far from perfect…
Step by step.
Inch by inch.
I am stumbling towards freedom.
Often my mind goes wherever it likes, following the path of least resistance. Flowing into old thought patterns before I notice and realize I have a choice.
English scholar and yogi Ernest Wood helped me to see this happening. In Concentration: An Approach to Meditation, he writes,
…the need of mental training, or regular, orderly, purposeful exercise of the mind, is far greater than that of the body in most cases; for at our general stage of growth most [people]’s bodily activities are well-ordered and controlled , and the body is obedient to their will, but their minds are usually utterly disobedient, idle and luxurious.
And I’m beginning to see how this manifests for me.
For the past couple of days I’ve felt slightly disconnected. And today I finally realized I don’t need to beat myself up about it. I’m able to see that beating myself up is flowing into the old thought pattern of not good enough, not smart enough, not efficient enough.
I’m realizing that I feel uncentered and that’s okay. I am centered enough.
Utterly disobedient – until I choose to make a change.
And so I’m beginning to watch what happens in my mind. To notice and to write. To become the detective and put the clues together. To realize when a negative pattern is happening and to shift away. To exercise choice.
And there’s an amazing freedom that comes. Realizing that when my mind is utterly disobedient it causes a lot of pain. And then when I find ways to change the pattern the pain lifts.
One step at a time.
I am learning to change my mind.
The new year invites us to ask,
Where are we going?
Where are coming from?
And this year,
As I stood on that bridge in between the new year and the old
I cast a glance over my shoulder
And looked back.
Tears streamed down my face
So much has happened
So much has changed
It was a year of falling down and getting up again
Looking at mountains that seemed too big to ever climb
It was a year of running into other people
Of getting mad
Or getting hurt
And then trying to make things better
Trying to make things work
Trying to figure things out.
And as I look back I see sometimes they did work
And that I did make it part way up that insurmountable climb
Even though I fell trying
More than once
To celebrate the New Year I danced
And for me this dance became a statement
I am here
I want to be here
Even though I fall down
I want to be here
And as I look back
I gather the precious treasures from the year
And the gems I find are subtle shifts in my body and voice
Clarity in sound
More integrity in my spine
I am here
I want to be here.
hard to see.
They change everything.