This is a blackberry flower. Yes, I know, they are invasive. Growing up in southern Oregon I have cut and burned and dug and cursed blackberries. And in the summer I have licked their juice from my fingers and marveled at their sweetness, too.
I also learned out of necessity that blackberry is a plant that carries its own cure. If you eat too many berries, a tea from the leaves will ease digestive insults. The roots more potently so. This medicine is readily available. The blackberry is a generous ally.
Do you see what I just did? Perspective, that shift.
One Monday night in Magnetize Studio we got down with our truth. And I mean low low down, to the point where I was dragging mine around in a miasma of despair. (A side effect of empathetic facilitation is I get to go through everything the participants go through. Again and again.)
See, the truth starts to look an awful lot like the old story--you know the one, that story you've been telling for years. The one that says : "It's their fault." Or," why does this always happen to me?" Or any one of the timeless variations of pain. Damn right, the old story is painful. And if you are telling it right now, the pain is current, present, seething inside. What is your pain? Betrayal? Lack? Exhaustion? Instability? Fear? On and on...we can name our poisons readily. And we do.
But do we deny these truths of pain or claim them? And what the heck is the difference there?
This: Can we find the gifts our trials hold?
#1: Know the Difference Between Victim and Victor
You already know this one, you really really do. It was the reason Elizabeth Gilbert got off her bathroom floor and launched a bestselling pilgrimage. The reason Oprah rose to her zenith, Frodo kept walking (and yes I just put Frodo and Oprah in the same sentence), the reason every hero of every film or book falls to their knees with gratitude at the end of the last battle scene. Endurance requires a purpose, purpose requires belief that you are part of a larger story. Yes, you.
You are the hero of this story right now. And not all heroes survive, we know this. Resiliency is a scientifically baffling quality. Meaning, possibly, that it is rooted in the individual. Do you feel your purpose? A purpose? Because you have one, even if you don't know it yet. The hard knocks, Joseph Campbell says those are the call to adventure. They come hard when the universe has asked nicely for our attention and we didn't respond. Now, if our truth is hard, how do you respond? When do you say yes to your purpose, yes to your strength, yes to the test?
When you get up off the bathroom floor and change your story, life does the rest.
#2: AND Life is Terminal, So What are You Waiting For?
It all has been for something. The trials strengthen us. All you have known in your life has led you to this moment here, this chance, this choice, this receiving. Yet, still we resist.
Mary Oliver asks us what we will do with our one wild and precious life... That our lives are but one--as war as we know--and precious might be ready knowledge. Yet, still we resist.
A few weeks ago I lost an amazing friend and colleague. Her death was fast and unexpected, her life full and rich and blooming. Then it was gone. Just like that.
I miss her. I dream of her. I didn't get to say goodbye, or tell her how grateful I am for all she taught me. This loss reminds me, again, how small our stories get in the face of a true ending. When we are gone, we are gone, moved on to the next. So when will we finally claim ourselves, when will we stand into the lives we know we are meant to live, the stories we are meant to tell?
Why not today? If you knew it was your last, how would that change your action?
What are you waiting for?
#3: Freedom Lies in Being Bold (or so says Robert Frost)
When I define my values, freedom tops the list, makes all of the others possible. Freedom of thought is essential. How can we be free when others are oppressed, goes the question... I wonder, how can we be free when we continually oppress ourselves?
How many times have you apologized this week for things you didn't need to?
How many times have you berated yourself, put yourself down, doubted yourself, diminished your power, felt sad or scared or uncomfortable because of something someone else said?
Well, the oppression is only half the story. The truth is, we are always free to think freely. We just must remember to.
And when we free our minds from the endless cycles of the old story, we may build new stories to live by...for ourselves, others, the world.
A story (from somewhere...I can't remember...anyone?): If you capture fruit flies in a closed jar they will bump against the lid a while, then settle in slow flying circles within. When you remove the lid, they keep to the contained space. They don't know they are free.
Try it. If you have been circling, aim for up, check out the view.
The lid is off the jar.