Today is 9/11. The memory of watching the planes go through the twin towers will always replay in my mind. Those actions continue to put things in my life into perspective. On that day, I could no longer as an American remain untouched by global violence. I was not in New York or DC at the time, however, I had friends who were, and they described eloquently what they went through. My illusion of “it can’t happen here” was busted. 9/11 made it abundantly clear that we are one world. I may not always understand or even like my world family, but we are all still living together on this one beautiful jewel of a planet. We all have a choice whether to live in fear, or live with love. And this day of all days is a reminder of that choice.
Today, I again realize that we are indeed one people, one world, one messy family. With that realization I can no longer focus on the miniscule dramas of my life. The thoughts of “but you said you would, but you promised, but you were going to, stop ricocheting around in my brain. They just don’t seem as important. I can relax into more acceptance for what is. I can let go of fear and move into a place of loving my messy family. I can forgive people for not doing what I wanted them to do. I can let go of my expectations, resentments and come back to being in the present.
Powerlessness, lack of control that is often my dilemma. And when I feel powerless I can find myself wanting to fight back and strive to have control again. When I am caught with that striving I think my vision of how the world ought to be is the correct one. My vision is flawed — after all I wear contacts because I am near-sighted. Though I strive to see a larger perspective I am still limited. And with that limitation I cannot see the perfection of what is.
The planes flying into the twin towers are an extreme example of powerlessness. There was nothing that could have stopped them in that moment. We don’t live in a world where there are Supermen, or other comic book heroes who can step in at the last moment and lasso the planes. Conversely, I am not a superhero. I am not perfect, I am a beautiful woman who is growing into more strength and beauty each day. I have to keep reminding myself that I am not in charge of the outcomes. I am not in charge period. Some days there is comfort in that thought. Other days I want to be the superhero that stops the planes from destroying so many lives.
So on this day of remembrance I offer the message of Hoʻoponopono (ho-o-pono-pono). Ho’oponopono is an ancient Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness. “Hoʻoponopono” is defined in the Hawaiian Dictionary as “mental cleansing” in a family conference in which relationships were set right through prayer, discussion, confession, repentance, and mutual restitution and forgiveness. What can you do today to cleanse your world? What can you do to bring forgiveness into your heart? This is my offering. I love you. I am sorry. Forgive me. Thank you.
Excerpt from the poem “Crazy Wisdom” published in Lightning Strikes Twice
dreaming the primordial word
I nestle in the palm of night’s hand visible yet empty
blinking in the radiance of the galactic eye
embracing whole worlds of the eye within the eye
perching on my shoulder angels sing hallelujah
invisible paws padding by my feet whisper put faith in every pace
smelling restless noise the tip of my tail twitches I lick my lips
don’t stop me before I am lost
curling up against night’s belly her great head turns towards me
her gaze stars full of mercy and magic
accepting timeless wonder my breath embraces dakinis devas
the dry rattle of skulls following every movement
praising the diamond night
I am the crazy wisdom of no hope and no fear
Dr. Brene Brown “The vulnerability paradox: It’s the first thing I look for in you and the last thing I want you to see in me. Trying to remember to show up and be seen today!”
Being vulnerable as an adult is about feeling safe in the world. A friend shared this wonderful affirmation – In my world of loving, generous, joyful stable souls I am safe moving forward with my gifts and dreams. When I say the word “safe” my heart takes a giant leap. I have to breathe in I am safe, I am safe, I am safe. Now if only I could wave a magic wand and convince all of myself this is true life would be so different. Because those moments when I know that the world is safe life is wonderful.
By now I have learned that feeling vulnerable doesn’t have to hurt. Growing up with my father’s bullying behavior shaped my life and instilled a form of PTSD in me. I was not safe being myself and definitely felt alone. As an adult memories of abuse get triggered when I feel scared and alone. Then I feel powerless just like I did when I was a child. When I am caught by these anxieties I forget that I am no longer a child. Feeling vulnerable can send me into a panic and the anxiety builds. That’s when anxiety girl takes over to find a solution to whatever problem is causing me discomfort.
Most of my life anxiety girl was the mask I wore. When I was caught being her I was careful where I would be seen and often stopped myself from attending parties or other social events because of how vulnerable I felt. I would do anything rather than feel the anxiety. Besides hiding there were other remedies that I sought to soothe that anxiety. Anxiety girl was always hungry. Or if she wasn’t hungry she was thirsty. Anxiety girl always needed more escape routes whether it was FB games or reading science fiction. Soothing the anxiety was a full time job.
The good news is that the mask of anxiety is changing. Anxiety girl does not have such a strangle hold on me or my emotions. Instead of soothing her with substances, or escape I am writing more. Daily I am walking more out into the world with my heart open as I am safer being me. I can breathe when I take risks. Instead of fighting the powerless feeling I am accepting that there is a solution to feeling powerless. Instead of feeling alone, I am reaching for a power greater than me and feeling comforted by that power.
Today how I react to being vulnerable can change from day to day. Some days I still feel so vulnerable I can’t bear to be seen. Other days vulnerability is a powerful place that exists in me, a place that exists totally without fear. It’s just me being human walking out into the world heart open.
What do you think? What does vulnerability mean to you? How do you react to being vulnerable?
I have a chihuahua who simply doesn’t hold back, especially when she’s scared. She’s not a biter or an aggressive dog, but no matter what kind of big mean-looking dog or person comes her way, she lets them know exactly what she thinks. I dare say her in-your-face approach to facing down the stuff that scares her most could teach all of us a big lesson.
A recent blog post from Think Traffic is right on for any creative type struggling to write, paint or compose that defining piece of work that they know is in there but they just can’t seem to get out. It talks about externalizing fear.
Corbett Barr calls the stuff we’re all scared of, the stuff we struggle to keep at bay for one reason or another “Epic Shit” and says the way to get to it is simple:
“Whatever you’re afraid to write right now, whatever you think you need to say but haven’t for fear of being judged, go write that scary thing right now.”
Doesn’t mean what you create from that starting point is the end product. But it’s real and honest and might set YOU free to write or paint or compose that piece you’ve been trying to get out.
Little dogs have got the right idea. Let it rip. The results could be epic.