RiversGrace

Navigating the Sacred and Mundane

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Stepping Lightly on the Path


In case you didn't know, having another child is not in the realm of possibility any longer. I've raged and grieved, acted indifferently, and tried out a number of other responses. What to do, time to let go. I've spent a good three years putting my energy behind it and the answer is no.

It's a baffling thing when you think you are reading the signs correctly, that you are showing up for what you think is your destiny, and the doors remain closed. Passwords, chants, pleas, and prayers aside now, I'm turning around and looking to see what else is in front of me. Squinting, I don't really want to see the sun, don't really care about the way my curiosity begins to translate the landscape.

Heavy with the implications of decisions I need to make for myself and my daughter, I look for the best immediate path to take. One foot in front of the other, that's about what I can do. I don't have to look far, not more than an inch. There it is, the path that has remained open to me all my life. I don't know what to call it really. It's about sitting with people. It's about reframing personal stories until rightful meaning and honor are restored. It's about embracing the unknown with wholeheartedness and looking into the face of the present. It's about mindfulness. And about curiosity. It's all about love and permission and healing. It's about showing up. It's about vision.

I've made my way on this path for many years and have been so fortunate to have the support of great teachers and mentors. I've been blessed with amazing 'clients', people who have earnestly looked at their lives, all the way down and back into their ancestries, with fierce humility and courage. I've learned so much from those people who entrusted their process to our relationship, to my guardianship for however long it took to find that opening of light, to that place where we both nod in silence, work well done, this leg of the journey complete.

All these years, I have not been a fan of psychotherapy, the scientific method, or the models of self that I feel have done and do harm us if we do not understand their limitations. Any model is useful if we accept it as one tool among many. To assume that our western psychotherapeutic ideas are the authoritative answers, that they are always accurate and helpful - worries me. So I've avoided that path, personally and professionally.

I never accepted the labels put upon me as a child and teenager by therapists, and thank god I had the wherewithal to look further. I didn't just look, I ran as fast as I could and didn't stop running for years. And I did gather tremendous understanding along the way. I learned that other cultures sometimes have better, more accurate models. Looking to ancient yoga maps, to the philosophies that have existed for thousands of years, expanded my own vision of my life ten fold. A hundred fold. The perennial wisdom traditions gave my life story dimension, layers and layers of meaning and connections to other maps and models.

Even our own scientific models, in their change and evolution, provided more insight, more dignity, more visionary probability, to my file of useful maps. Mechanistic, reductionistic ideas of self gave way to systems theory and quantum theory and chaos theory. Imagine how our notions of self expand when the science behind our developmental theory expands.

Sometimes, though, it just takes too much time for models to change. Our textbooks don't keep up with the view from the frontier. Practitioners, therapists, doctors in rooms with patients and clients are still using outdated maps - they haven't been given the new information. So this behavior and that movement look pretty black and white, according to their picture, according to the current data.

But I want to know what the shamans in Peru are saying. I want to know what the plants have been telling them for eons. Because when I'm a kid laying in the dark of my room after an incomprehensible act of rage, what the plants have to say may speak more to my experience than a bunch of dead white scientists who decided something at a conference in 1946. As someone suffering and also exulting, I need to know what the texts say from yogis who have received their knowledge from great scholarship and spiritual stewardship. What can they tell me about that doorway at the bottom of the well? Or how about when you're walking down the street in a small Midwest town and suddenly the quality of light moves through your cells and you weep and no one has ever told you that could happen? Who do you want to see, someone who wonders whether you're delusional or someone who can place your experience within a global context of transformative change?

That being said, like every other basic step I skipped over to survive, I am turning around to take care of some things I missed. While I love the knowledge and experience I have gained, I have also given up the opportunity to belong to a larger community of professionals. Rebellion and change from the outside of the circle is fine, but in the end not so useful. Too easy to reject and polarize the 'other', and too easy to feel excluded, on the fringe, different. And I need to revise my own assumptions and judgments about the Western Tradition.

So, I turned in my application for the local, state school, graduate counseling program. AND because I applied so late, I have been advised to take the GRE without studying. Yep, you heard it. How insane is that, right? I'm the one who failed every standardized test I have had the misfortune of meeting. Never thought I'd have to go through that again. Tomorrow I will practice a complete letting go. Don't know most the right answers on that test, but I do know what the plants are sayin in Peru. So, fine by me. I'll just jump through the hoop, and remind myself that failure is the underside of a blooming flower.

Tomorrow I take the four plus hour exam (so if you do know math, etc., please do whisper in my ear at 10am, ok?). I should be studying fractions and algebraic formulas, the format for a critical essay, or the 3,500 word list of words, but, alas, I'm listening to the sitar and drinking my latte, thinking of you all and about the path.

I don't really want to take any step, but life comes to get us when we wait at the wrong door, and shows us, gently, here you go, your life is in this direction.....

9 Comments:

Blogger Jerri said...

Sorry to say I can be absolutely no help with the math portion of the exam. But 3,500 words? Right up my alley. Tomorrow morning I'll think of every esoteric word I know--beam them cross country, in fact.

Godspeed, P. Letting go is rarely easy but always worth the effort.

Love to you. Love. Love. Love.

3:13 PM  
Blogger Carrie Wilson Link said...

"As someone suffering and also exulting, I need to know what the texts say from yogis who have received their knowledge from great scholarship and spiritual stewardship. What can they tell me about that doorway at the bottom of the well? Or how about when you're walking down the street in a small Midwest town and suddenly the quality of light moves through your cells and you weep and no one has ever told you that could happen? Who do you want to see, someone who wonders whether you're delusional or someone who can place your experience within a global context of transformative change?"

I want to see you. Hurry up. My issues can't wait much longer.

I think the thing to do is sleep well tonight, fully caffeinate tomorrow, and just let your ancestors whisper to you for 4 hours tomorrow. It's not all up to you.

I'll light the Marys.

6:35 PM  
Blogger Jerri said...

Just checking in to let you know I've been holding you in the light all day.

However it went or did not, blessings to you. Always.

6:36 PM  
Blogger Go Mama said...

So many beautiful insights along your twisted path:

"failure is the underside of a blooming flower."

"my curiosity begins to translate the landscape."

"What can they tell me about that doorway at the bottom of the well?"

"It's about reframing personal stories until rightful meaning and honor are restored. It's about embracing the unknown with wholeheartedness and looking into the face of the present. It's about mindfulness. And about curiosity. It's all about love and permission and healing. It's about showing up. It's about vision."

There it is, the path that has remained open to me all my life.

Sounds like you've found your bloom, Prem. The test? Just another step. Know you are fully supported and that everything is opening to you in perfect and divine order.

Many blessings and love to you!

10:56 AM  
Blogger Amber said...

I hope it went like buttah!

This post-- as SO OFTEN is the case with you-- hit my spot. I have been tossing around what to do, what to do...thinking of just bucking the system. But then, thinking if I won't be holding myself down later... I am happy to know you are doing this. Sometimes I think I am too old to do it, to go back. But no. never too late, right? Not when your soul has work to do.

I think all your experience with what the plants think will make you a great therapist.

:)

11:45 PM  
Blogger Jess said...

Can't believe I didn't read this sooner, but I'm glad I got to drink beet martinis with you afterwards.

I love this post, there are so many great lines in it, and so much that resonates for me right now.

I love this: "Because when I'm a kid laying in the dark of my room after an incomprehensible act of rage, what the plants have to say may speak more to my experience than a bunch of dead white scientists who decided something at a conference in 1946." :)

And I am so glad you wrote about shamans in Peru on that critical essay. No way they won't see your wisdom in that.

11:06 PM  
Blogger kario said...

What happens is what needs to happen. I fully trust in your ability to stand at the door and listen to the voices no matter where they come from.

10:07 PM  
Blogger Deb said...

This is one of the most powerful pieces of your writing that I've read - and most of what you say is incredibly powerful. I hope the test experience got you where you need to be. You know that if this is the door, the test will not keep you from going through.

I admire your courage, your vision and your willingness to walk through the pain. Searching for the light, even when the darkness seems the heaviest.

Sending love and light your way.

11:53 AM  
Blogger Suzy said...

Always in my prayers Prem.

Love,

Suzy

3:23 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home