Posts Categorized: Wordlessness

Restoration from the Place of Unknowing

“There’s freedom in hitting bottom. In seeing you won’t be able to save your daughter, her spouse, his parents, or your career, relief in admitting you reached the place of great unknowing. This is where restoration can begin, because when you’re still in the state of trying to fix the unfixable, everything bad is engaged: the chatter of your mind, the tension of your physiology, all the trunks and wheel-ons you carry from the past. It’s exhausting.”  ~ Ann Lamott, Help Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers

Last year contained a series of surprises and physical injuries, which are still healing and nearly healed, assuming there aren’t any setbacks. I was hit head-on. Two months later my daughter was rear-ended by a drunk driver. My mother and brother were hospitalized far away shortly afterward and it was my job to get on a plane and take care of matters. I could go on and on about the heroic tasks required of me.

This is how Fixer and Rescuer identities got the toe-hold once again. Then a strangle-hold. What began as an innocent response to urgent and real needs turned into a (false) belief that I COULD fix whatever is broken. For everybody. Now. Or (better yet) yesterday.

Story Blindness

I just emerged from a bad case of story blindness. It’s not as painful as snow blindness, at least most of the time, Usually it’s more like driving in a whiteout.

I’m navigating along, appreciating the emerald moss or the birdcalls of spring. My life is going bloomingly. There’s a sense of equilibrium, a deep flow if happiness.

Until.  Something happens that isn’t a part of this peace. I get a call that someone I love is in trouble. My dog nips at a stranger. Somebody feels hurt by something I’ve said or done.

That’s when the Big Story shows up. The story that it shouldn’t have happened. That I should have known better. That it’s my job to rescue or make them feel better. It’s a story of my incompetence, one that’s so deeply embedded that I often don’t recognize it because it feels like a part of me. It’s a story of shame.

A story so engulfing that I can’t quite see through it. I react as if it were real, moving into habitual loops of rescuing, appeasing, or trying to soothe myself with food or television. Anything to avoid that feeling of contraction, that self-condemnation. Sometimes I’m in the whiteout for a few hours, and sometimes I’m there for days, trying to make the feelings go away with my old bag of tricks.

Here’s what I’ve noticed. Since I began seeing the tricks my mind plays on me, I’ve been able to avoid stepping into the fog much of the time by noticing how things I would call problems turn out not to be. Situations that would have sent me into blind reaction lose their charge. Or I just feel the feeling and let it pass through.

But not always. Sometimes, if I’m taken by surprise, it might take some time to sort out what’s real from what’s not. What’s harmful from what is there for my learning. But when I stay in curiosity and watch closely, the fog begins to clear. The shape of what is actually true shows up. I find what I can do to address the situation. I choose to stop blaming myself, and I reclaim my own essential innocence.

And there on the other side is the beauty that was there all along. A world of kind possibilities.

Baja: A Whale’s Eye View

I just arrived home from a pilgrimage to the birthing lagoon of the gray whale in Baja. I had heard rumors about mother whales there who introduce their calves to humans, much as we take our offspring to meet other species. This image had lived in my imagination for several years, increasing its ranking in my bucket list. But my watery imaginings didn’t begin to match the experience of being in their presence—the power of a whale’s eye view.

My Life as a Sea Anemone

Sea anemones are among my favorite sea creatures. Fortunately Disney’s crew didn’t make them into a character in Little Mermaid. It would be a grave injustice, They don’t like the press.

They’re lovely just as they are, in their shy beauty. Colorful, vibrant. Content to stay in one place and ingest new nutrients. They stay perched and open and lovely until their space is invaded, and then a quick poke sends them into contraction and protection.