How do I reconcile having so much, so many comforts about me, with the suffering and lack of all those I see who are in need in my world?
You cannot reconcile the inequality of what you know and what you see. Let go of that notion. It serves no one and keeps you in a static place, going nowhere while filled with frustration and often despair.
Your heart, however, is already occupied with reconciliation. Go there. Go to your heart. It is in the very concern for, and desire to make right, the inequalities that proves your heart is already open, giving, and flowing - outpouring its love toward all those that need it.
Send your love, daily, in joy. For what good does it serve anyone in need to meet them with your own despair? Those who need your love, have enough despair of their own. Meet them instead with that which will lift them up. Meet them with all the joy in your heart you can offer. In that, then you offer not only love, but the gift of hope.
You, right now - yes, you who are reading this - you are the very light, and lightness, this worlds needs. You are the heart of goodness. Send the goodness of your heart to every corner of this world, exempting no one or nothing. Herein rests the ultimate reconciliation.
As mature women, writing about mature women, are we cognizant of what we are “feeding” each other in our messaging? The impact of what we explicitly write is important, of course, but inference and implicit messages can be both damaging and damning.
Not long ago I read a poem that was circulated and sent to me by email. The sender of the poem, and perhaps the author of the poem, meant well. But meaning well does not always lend itself to critical thinking, the very process that presupposes mindful, rigorous analysis, before we adopt our perspectives or beliefs.
This poem waxed maudlin on the beauty of growing old as a woman. It inferred that I was somehow to take heart that as an aging woman the lines on my face were the very “history of my family.” The verses build on this underlying message: As an aging woman I am to revere these “wisdom lines.” It declares my loved ones “will return” to find “their history in my face.”
I say to that, bulls**t! This may be so for the author of this particular poem, but lacking is any clarity that this is their point of view only. Therein lies the potential damage and the unwitting damning of a woman’s right to choose: When a woman is given only one perspective to choose from, any other perspective becomes opposing, and thus, either implicitly or outright wrong. Do you recall the famous words, "You're either with us, or you're against us"?
Like that famous line, for this poem to give message that every aging woman should love the lines on her face is both audacious and divisive. My facial lines are my facial lines. They are mine to think about or to do with in any way, shape, or form that I please. Lines on the face are just that: lines on the face. Please, do not infer, suggest, or implicitly tell me I am to adopt your point of view and revere these facial lines as my family’s history.
And speaking to that particular point, I am not responsible to hold my family’s history anywhere on or in my body. Nor do I want to. Quite honestly, I would be stupefied if I had an adult child come to me, look me in the eye, and declare, “Mom, I see my family history in every line on your face.” I really would need to compose myself before I responded thoughtfully to what I would call a thoughtless remark. For myself, I cannot think of a single time, when having looked at my own mother, that I ever thought her face represented our family story.
My mother’s face, my mother’s body, was a creation of her own perspective. Who she was and how she appeared was the result of the story she personally wove about herself. As her daughter I will not take responsibility for the choices she made. Nor would it have been my mother’s place to hold me accountable for any line on her own face. The idea is ridiculous to me, romantic nonsense that is misleading at best. Do we really need to manipulate by using inviting and charming words that disguise blaming others for who we have become or how we now appear?
As women growing into our maturity, can we dispense with acquiescing words of soft, syrupy sentimentality? Rather, might we adopt a decorum of directness? Could we allow ourselves to not be nice all the time? Haven’t we won the right to claim our authentic selves, the best of who we are, along with the worst of who we are? And as sisters to one another, can we allow ourselves to accept each other as we are, and as we are not?
This can be a time in life to face who we are, lines and all, liking them or not! We have a choice. We have choices, period. Hell, we women have created the choices needed to live life more fully and joyfully. Our maturity is what has helped to shape our sharpness, giving us an edge up on intuiting what is real from that of banal platitudes. As one mature woman, I will not go timid into the night. Rather, I come out with the swords of my lived experience — swinging! Don’t peddle me flowers, I’m looking for sisters with sharp swords.
A controlled, measured beat bellows the commentary. Yap, yap, yap.
To that, as others attempt to share, there pours forth, again and again, the overlaying exclamation, "Oh yes! I know."
There is no space. I fall away, not hearing anything from anyone.
Angry people are loud. Even in their silence, their anger shouts out over, around, and slices through whomever is in their presence.
If you live with an angry person, there is no escaping their turbulent, threatening energy. No momentary errand, daily school, or work offer reprieve, for their anger lives on your skin. There, it finds its way into your pores, sinking deeper and deeper into your cells. It embeds itself in the organs that keep you alive, and like a parasite, it takes life from you.
It takes great courage to disengage from angry people or the angry person. It takes time and good people to remind you: You have nothing to do with the angry person's anger. You are not the cause of their pain.
Co-mingling the sand between our toes
Your toes, my toes and the warm, fine grit
Sun, earth, and ocean at play
Dare we, might we, let ourselves escape today?
To take us to far away from the city's plight
To make a path leading to delight
Ten toes and ten toes more walking side by side
Holding hands, faces to the sun, enjoying our stride
How many thousands, perhaps millions, of words have been cast toward you? How much of what you have heard has fashioned you into who you have become? Since the day we were born, our caretakers have reared us through the thoughts they have had and the words they have used. Parents, educators, ministers, and numerous authority figures have worked fervently to impart their mantle of knowledge into our awareness.
It makes sense to share this gained knowledge to inform and bring up children to become contributing members of society. It is both reasonable and wise for parents to monitor their children’s progress toward that end. And so we find ourselves reiterating to our children what is acceptable behavior, and what is not acceptable behavior. We also easily begin to form an endless barrage of commentary and a list of questions to reinforce that which we want our children to learn or to do. We then gauge our children’s ongoing success by their willingness to respond according to our expectations.
Cooperation and a shared understanding can foster family harmony. Raising children who think and act in ways that match our family interests and values is an understandable comfort to parents. But with our ever-present, ongoing input, inquiries, and expectations, is it possible our child-rearing efforts overshadow, suppress, or even subvert our children? Where on the continuum is the ratio of our talking to our listening? Are we out of balance? Have we invested so much of ourselves into our children that we have overlooked fostering the unique, wondrous, magical self within each child?
Do we really know who our children are, apart from us? At varied levels of understanding have we encouraged them to discover their own individual desires? Have we honored their personal characteristics? Have we respected their insights? Have we sought out and discussed their questions?
Kahlil Gibran, the late poet, writes that our children are an expression of “Life’s longing for itself…you may give them your love, but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts…you may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.”
Each of us came into this world to express who we were born to be, but many of us have become lost into the words of who we were “supposed to become.” When we are enmeshed in so many words that have never been ours, how do we know where others leave off and we begin? How do we know what our own words are? How do we discover our own way?
There is no one answer nor single path back to who we were born to be. There is no panacea to efficiently remedy how many of us were raised. It is likely the adults in our lives did the very best they could do at the time they were raising us. When this was not the case, we have been left to work through the consequences of those events as well — doubling and tripling our efforts to find ourselves in the midst of what were perhaps overwhelming experiences. For some of us, right now, it is enough that we are who we have become. We are content with our life as it is. This is well and good. There is no better nor worse place to be.
For those of us interested in regaining touch with our wondrous, magical selves there is continued work to do. There are key attributes we will need to summon up as we embark on our journey. Honing our awareness is first. Building our intuition and increasing our trust in its guidance is also vital. Intuition is our heart speaking to us. The words of our heart will never lead us astray.
Our exploration will also require ongoing courage, self-observation, perseverance, and honest reflection. With almost certainty, our forgiveness will be called upon as well. Regaining our connection to who we were born to be is worth every effort for this road trip. There may not be a pot of gold at the end of our journey, but there is a refreshing, revitalizing stream of joy.
I owe my soul to no one.
I will not be led by forces outside myself.
It matters not their position, their weight, or pre-supposed authority.
I am sovereign to myself.
I hand my power over to no one.
I react to no fool, nor to foolish behavior.
I write my own tune and play my own song.
I accept that joy is my birthright.
I gratefully claim this gift as mine.
How then could it matter to me if you choose to dither in remorse and regret?
I love you still, but I will not be a party to your "woe is me."
Have we become settled with the notion that it is okay to offer a short cut of ourselves to another? Today's computer technology and the pace of our daily living has made it status quo to send fragmented sentences, a word here or there, or icons to convey the feelings in the message we want to deliver. These quick responses perhaps have their place, but at what point do they become a hindrance instead of a helping hand?
Begrudgingly, I have put up with one of the newest short cuts for the past several weeks: Gmail's Smart Reply. For those who don't use Gmail as their email provider, this is a program that apparently scans incoming emails for the purpose of "helping" us write our own email responses. As we start typing our sentence, Smart Reply jumps in and finishes it for us. Voila! It may not be what we were going to write, nor contain words we were going to use, but oh well, Gmail is telling us this is the "smart reply."
Could Smart Reply, and other programs like it, become easy-to-use options whereby we end up being less present in our written communications? Might we become complacent with doing less of our own thinking? Could there be an ever-progressing cultural assault to dumb us down? Consciously instigated, or not? The less we think for ourselves the easier it becomes to succumb to the box of choices the world outside of us offers.
We human beings are wonderfully complex. The notion that an icon, scattering of words, or a program that completes our sentences is going to convey the fullness of our message is dubious. The time we take to respond, or not, and the words we use to communicate to another speaks volumes to who we are, and to the value we place on our relationships.
And what of the value we place on the most important relationship we have? The one with ourselves. The looming tragedy in relying on these short cuts, is the loss of power in choosing our own words. The words we speak and the sentences we care to author informs us of who we are - and how we have come to know ourselves.
The words we choose are powerful agents in creating our experience. When we say or write that we are "delighted with" something or someone, we are! When we say or write we are "depressed or lonely," we are! Whatever it is we are saying, or writing, this IS how it is. It is not going to be some other way - than the way we are telling it. (Unless we are lying, but that's another topic.) We are are own scriptwriters.
Or are we? Could the steady reliance on these types of technology short cuts be shorting out our inherent power? The words we choose to use and the sentences we author are potent. Depending on the intensity of our feeling that backs the words we choose, therein lies our potential to create; the mix of our feelings and the meanings of our words is a powerful fuel. When we take action with that fuel pack within us, here is the spark that ignites and empowers us to bring our thoughts and ideas into manifestation.
This is not an effort to take us back to the days before "smart" technology. There is a time and place for its use. It IS a shot across the bow, a heads up, and a reminder of the power we wield when we use our own words, author our own sentences, and tell our own stories.
Words are akin to being magical. There is an almost endless array of them available to us for our use. Each one of these words vibrates with its own meaning. They lay waiting, as in a magical pool, to be chosen and fully energized by our intent.
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(By the way, it's possible to delete Smart Reply by going into Gmail settings.)
Oh! You wild and weird woman! Is there anyone amongst us who is not weird? Who does not have a freak flag to fly? Even those that hide their flag and feign perfection, or those that offer pretense of being above the fray of frolic and fun - that too is weird. Isn't it?
In fact, that's the MOST weird; pretending to be who we are not. Capping down on our natural effervescence. Bottling up the joy that would love to bubble up and over - if we could only allow it.
Canadian director, Domee Shi, the 2019 Oscar recipient for Best Animated Short Film had this to say in her acceptance speech about nerds and weirdness:
"To all the nerdy girls out there who hide behind their sketchbooks - don't be afraid to tell your stories to the world. You are going to freak people out but you'll probably connect with them, too, and that's an amazing feeling to have. Thank you, Peter Docter, for believing in my weirdness and giving me a voice at the studio."
Thank you Domee Shi for your words!
It is our weirdness that makes us unique. It is the seed of our creativity. Lay claim to the weird and nerdy within you. Sign on the dotted line and own ALL of who you are! The world is waiting.