Thursday, July 15, 2010
On grace, and becoming, second chances and pulling on hip waders to walk through your own shit.
It reminds me of these old video games, the ones that were text-only (does anyone remember these?) which operated just the same way. If you didn't solve all the puzzles in one level, you couldn't move on, or if you did manage to move on, when you got to the final level, if you were missing some essential piece of information, you couldn't solve the game.
Now, I've come to realize that my life is not a game that I'm going to solve, and that takes a LOT of pressure off of me, I've come to realize that its one lesson at a time, with no goal at all, enlightenment will happen in some other lifetime, when its time for that to happen. Whatever cosmic end there is will handle itself, my human self is not concerned with, nor can it effect the reason I am here, or solve that riddle.
And so I find myself much comforted by that, walking one foot in front of the other, often re learning the same lessons, finding the same parts of myself that I "thought I fixed", but each time I come back by those lessons, I find myself being a bit more tollerant and gentle with the process of learning, and the lesson goes deeper. As I pass the lesson again (for instance, communicate well with your bosses and other people so that people feel like they can count on you and you aren't flaky), I find myself saying, well, here is how I am going to approach this next time, not so it never happens again, but so that next time it happens, the impact won't be as big. Goodbye, old friend lesson, part of my human self, I'll see you again, I'm pretty sure.
When I manage to remove judgement from that thought, and I'm simply observing parts of myself that I hope to evolve, I seem to let go of more of the negative that keeps me repeating the pattern, and I have a better chance of jettisoning some of that old habit, and leveraging some healthier behavior.
With this in mind, I think about how many times I've come up against a moment in my life when I have an opportnuinty to "become". To let go completely of old patterns that make up some part of "me", and just walk into the unknown, not wishing for anything, just knowing that the old didn't serve me or my family or friends any more, and it was time to get naked and become.
Its happened hundreds, thousands of times. And when I emerge, I feel giddy, and shy, and strange, and new, and the same, and old, and when I was younger, I used to want to show my new understanding and self to people, like my mother or my step father and say, "See, I've learned that it was a habit which I was repeating, which I thought would keep me safe, which was hurting all of us. I've learned to let go of that habit, and so now, I am standing here, minus one coping mechanism, and I hope that will make me healthier, and able to make better choices in the future."
And that's really the jist of it. I always wished that the people in my life would believe that I could become, rather than waiting for me to prove it to them over the course of months, years, or even decades.
I have, in my life, needed a lot of grace. I have, in my life, made rash, hurtful decisions. I have, in my life, examined who I am, looked carefully at my own shit, none of which is pleasant to look at, and made the decision to pull on hip waders and walk on out into it and really muck around until I found the root.
This kind of hard work is hard, unpleasant, and painful. And if you have a lot of that work to do, as many of us do, just because you make progress doesn't mean you are any closer to "doing it right". I have come to accept that I am still going to disappoint some people, including myself, and that I also don't believe that there is ANYONE who "does it right". I have given up measuring myself against some ideal of perfect responsibility, and rather, look at people in my life who "do it well" and ask myself "What is it about that person, and the balance that they appear to have in their life, that you can learn from?"
And I have been thinking about this really intently again for about a month now. I have a friend in my life who has gone through a major change in his life. His understanding, his life experience has been shaken, ripped open, and laid at his feet. He has pulled on his waders. He has walked with a smile into his own shit, and looked around happily, calling out bravely to the shore, "I'm sorry!" to all of us who are standing there, not quite believing that he is taking this step.
He is choosing to become.
And I can not help but be proud of him, believe him, and be grateful. It is not all of us who choose to become, when the journey is such an arduous one. And I think of all the times I could have used a witness and a champion and just a little grace while I made my journey, while I am making my journey still today.
And so I choose not to wait for proof. I choose to believe. I see you out there in your Hip Waders. And I'm proud of you.