I received a great gift from a friend for my birthday last year. It’s a book by Mark Nepo of inspirational stories and musings that often touch me or get me thinking on any given day. Today’s reading is one such gift because until I read the words, I had not shaped any sort of goal or theme for this next year. I’ve spent the last few years “managing” my life’s changes and how I respond to them. Whether it came to me on January 1 or hit me halfway through, each year had a theme. A few years ago, the theme was to “breathe.” Yep, it was that simple. The next year was “the year of yes.” Most of my friends and I had a really good time with that one. Last year was a tough one, though, because it was the one where the “rubber meets the road” in the healing process, so to speak. It included big highs, like driving my kids on a 10 day Yellowstone vacation and big lows of feeling trapped in a place (literally and figuratively) that I did not want to be stuck in. This was when the desire to be independent, happy and whole met head-on with the hard work that it takes to get there. Here is a little secret to wanting to be better than your past – you have to change how you deal with your present. This process is ongoing, of course. The ebbs and flows of growth have been a little less dramatic lately and perhaps I sit today at a new plateau of acceptance. I am forever grateful for those that stood by me in the drudgery of this phase and humbled by the love. So what’s next?
Nepo’s writing today is about a friend of his who gets excited about a painting project, gathers all of his supplies and tries open the door to the house with a gallon of opened red paint in each hand, a drop cloth under his arm, and a brush in his teeth. When he almost has the door open, he falls off-balance backwards and spills red paint all over himself. Nepo reflects about the comical situation, “Amazingly, we all do this, whether with groceries or paint or with the stories we feel determined to share. We do this with our love, with our sense of truth, even with our pain. It’s such a simple thing, but in a moment of ego we refuse to put down what we carry in order to open the door. Time and time again, we are offered the chance to truly learn this: We cannot hold on to things and enter. We must put down what we carry, open the door, and then take up only what we need to bring inside. “
Well, amen to that. I have been working on my ego and surrender for sometime now. However, I’m still a slave to my head. Many an uncomfortable feeling or problem has been solved with the “thought first method” of my logical existence so, it’s not that I’m not grateful for the grounding thoughts and reflection skills. It’s how I learn. I also put down a bunch of things so far to get through the doors I’ve walked through. However, I would really, really like to connect continuously with other feelings besides anxiety, pain, frustration, and doubt. Hold on to crazy for just a second…… I would like to lean into some joy. Not the kind of joy that is simple and soulful that I feel with my kids, or the contentment of enjoying the beauty of a day. I already appreciate that because I know that the sacred is the best stuff of this life. Instead, this is me being a broken but blessed person asking for a bit more. This is me saying to the fear in my head, “the heart you have is worthy enough to have a say in this life as well.” This is a small whispering desire that I would like to lead more this year with an open heart than a thinking mind. This is going to take me putting down some more things to get through that door, because sadness, bitterness, jaded outlooks, and regret have no place on the other side. No, Joel Olsteen has not taken over my computer. I just have a little curiosity of what is through the next doorway….and I’m ready to enter.