One of the qualities that you can develop, particularly in your older years, is a sense of great compassion for yourself. When you visit the wounds within the temple of memory, you should not blame yourself for making bad mistakes that you greatly regret. Sometimes you have grown unexpectedly through these mistakes. Frequently, in a journey of the soul, the most precious moments are the mistakes. They have brought you to a place that you would otherwise have always avoided. You should bring a compassionate mindfulness to your mistakes and wounds. Endeavor to inhabit the rhythm you were in at that time. If you visit this configuration of your soul with forgiveness in your heart, it will fall into place itself. When you forgive yourself, the inner wounds begin to heal. You come in out of the exile of hurt into the joy of inner belonging.
Excerpt from ANAM CARA
I am now, and have always been, in love with the written word. As a young student of literature I was enthralled with Early American Literature and most specifically with my professor. She was small, but she was fierce. In the classroom and beyond, she represented a picture of something I aspired to as a twenty something in the late 80s. Her passion for teaching, for inspiring and challenging her students drove my studies and I longed to write in such a way as to have her approval. She taught my Early American Lit class and, not surprisingly, my favorites were The Scarlet Letter and, what many call the greatest novel of all, Moby Dick. Little did I know how the themes of the great white whale would weave their way through my life. At the beginning of my fifth decade on this spinning ball I was brought back to Moby Dick again and again. The corruption of power, the misuse of religion, greed, vengeance, and pride rolled through it like stampeding elephants, but there were also redemptive pieces that resonated with me in an altogether odd and delightful way. There are myriad quotes that have connections to my life, but one that resonates now as much as decades ago, "It is not down in any map, true places never are," in reference to the home of Queequeg, Ishmael's unlikely soul mate. I have found this simple truth throughout my life, truth, which humanity longs for in every facet of life, is only partially knowable, and definitely not certain. The mystery of life, humanity, God, faith and connection is as Rokovoko, not down in any map. Each of us can only know our own truth and it is my life's work to know my own and help others on their journey toward their own.
It is a profound truth in its purest form. Every human is a reflection of the divine whether we, through our warped lenses, can readily make out that image. It is the baseline of how we treat one another regardless of the clutter and chaos between us. I have what a friend once called a “dark gift,” that is, a bullshit meter, and coupled with my uneven maturation it can blind me in relationships. I look out, and I see people, and in doing so, I can hold up a shield when their knowing glance comes back toward me. Call it projection or deflection; it thwarts connection. The protection is not flimsy; its strength is from years of the melding of sorrow, fear, vigilance mixed with strength, resilience, and courage. It has served me well, especially in my youth, a beautiful and necessary role, but in my mid-life, it often cuts off the light of others leaving only the dark shadow of their edges as it diffuses my light, leaving others only able to see shades of who I might be. I read the dark edges as tea leaves like a half-blind diviner and conjure tales of rejection and disdain, even disgust at times. All while refusing vulnerability to the other. There are times it feels like a superpower, and in truth, it can be just that, but only when I let the light through in the present moment allowing theirs to pierce and melt and mine to shine freely without fear of its effect. To look for the light and be the light. To breath the freedom of that light. To read the darkness in the clarity of truth from their light and mine, seeing and being seen.
What I'm Thinking
“And the world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles, no matter how long, but only by a spiritual journey, a journey of one inch, very arduous and humbling and joyful, by which we arrive at the ground at our own feet, and learn to be at home.”