Note: This piece originally posted on February 23, 2012. I’m re-posting it because I find myself far, far behind on my writing and blog communication. In fact this morning a reader wrote to me with a number of valid concerns. She needed to let me know that I’d hurt her feelings and she was wondering if you all are “just” readers to me; was she, in particular, not meaningful to me?
I want each and every one of you to know how deeply important you are–how meaningful you are. In the midst of this illness that has taken so much of my time and energy (see previous post An Antidote for Pain) you give me, daily, a reason to write–a reason to create! You listen and you share, offering me connection. You give me hope every single day that this dream I’m living and the parts of it I’m still stretching for are real and can come true. So please know, you are VERY meaningful to me. Each one of you matters.
Why Does Love Matter?
I’m not so tough. I’m pretty sure most of you don’t think of me as tough anyway, but the fact is, I do. By that I mean I like to believe I can make it on my own—do everything for myself—that I don’t need anybody else for my life to work and be full.
I take great pride in living out here against the land grant, isolated and on my own. I revel in my silent nights, wandering in the dark, out under the stars. I drink in the solitude as if it were nourishment and, in many ways, it is. I carry in my own wood, light my own fires, keep myself and my animal family warm and well.
But last night I faced something of a crisis and, deep in the midst of it, I asked myself what makes my life meaningful? And all I could come up with, once I had run through my usual dogma about finding it within, was that I find meaning from others—from outside of myself. From loving others. And as natural as this may be to the rest of you, to me it was a shock, the polar opposite of my closely held belief system.
I cuddled the dogs on the floor. I wrapped myself around the cats. I thought about Anna and Bill and my friend, Kathy, in Massachusetts. They are what bring meaning to my life. And you. The level of communication we share in this blog community is precious to me. In fact I have come to need them and you. Another shock.
In those moments I understood that I can be an artist or a waitress, it doesn’t really matter. But what does matter is that I have connection outside of myself—that I have love. Beyond self-love (which has always been a struggle for me), this is something I can’t do for myself or by myself. For this, I have to extend myself beyond self. I have to need the other. I must be willing to admit there is something I can’t do on my own. And I must be willing to stand in the truth of who I am, speak my name, and be seen.
In the David Whyte tape I’ve mentioned to you before, that I’ve been listening to lately, he says life is constantly telling us we’re larger than we think we are. He suggests that we should get very tired of the small stories we’ve been telling about ourselves; that we stop leaning on our wounds as a kind of dyke against experience. Instead we must open to the actual experience—open to the the wound. I have spent so much time and energy doing the opposite: living as a self-contained, closed unit, confirming me in the small hole I’ve made for myself.
He also says the flawed human hope is that we’ll get to a place where we cannot be touched. But that we’re all just like everybody else and no exception is being made for any of us. The hope for safety is that we don’t have to follow the path where we would have to claim our powers in the world because it would mean belonging, and belonging on its own terms, not on ours. Belonging and being vulnerable would mean that we could be hurt. He adds that it is surprising how much of our identity is predicated on not being hurt.
He poses this question: “How much will you rest into your own experience?”
And he makes this observation: There is a coal still burning inside each and every one of us, that can be fanned into a flame, if we are only willing to be broken open.
The Buddha said the heart will be broken again and again and again until it stays open.
This is all very new to me and terribly uncomfortable. The controlled systems I have lived within are expanding. It is certainly simpler to live out here on my own, needing no one. But I have seen the truth and there is no going back. Love doesn’t make me weak and vulnerability can actually make me stronger. I am more, not less, when I am open to loving and being loved.
Standing on the edges of breakage and wishing it for all of us.
Love to you all,