Ancestral energy lives in the stars above us, the stones beneath us. Their memory gathers in oceans, rivers and seas. It hums its silent wisdom within the body of every tree.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

An Evolution of Spirit

“I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one's head pointed toward the sun, one's feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.” ~ Nelson Mandela

I talk pretty on my blog about kindness and compassion. My words are honest and I work every day to live by them. But I wasn’t always this person. We are born with open hearts, and then the world happens and shapes us and we spend the rest of our lives fighting to get back to that original place of faith in humanity. Every year I get closer. But I like people to know how different I was, to understand how much I have changed. Because if they do not perceive my change, how can they believe themselves capable of the same transformation?

“Loving ourselves through the process of owning our story is the bravest thing we’ll ever do.” ~BrenĂ© Brown

I used to be an anger ball. By that I mean I was very quick to anger. I was angry at the violence I had suffered. Angry at the people around me who found relief by taking out their pain and insecurity on others. I was angry at the hardness of a world I did not seem to belong in. I was no better. I curled in or lashed out, always one of two extremes, as a way of taking what I needed from the world to survive it.

“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.” ~Mark Twain

I didn’t know there was another way. I was a heavenly body on the inside of the circuit, the sun that the solar system revolved around. I didn’t see that the world was smothering me because I put myself at the center of it. All I saw was that I was suffocating. And I couldn’t see a way out.

“The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart.” ~Buddha
I was at a crossroads, my own personal Equinox. I was disconnected from myself, from the earth beneath me, from the sky above me. I could see the forest of trees but not the roots of them entwining and holding each other up. I didn’t know how to bend. I didn’t know how to flow. Everything was fire and lava. I wasn’t living in the world, I was burning my way through it.

“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.” ~Mahatma Gandhi

When we feel lonely we push out at the world, keeping it further at bay. I pushed everyone away before they could leave me, before they could hurt me. I thought pain was inevitable and that was the face I gave.

“Listen—are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?” ~Mary Oliver

It wasn’t what I wanted. I was at a crossroads and I made a choice. I turned away from chaos and insanity, from trying to fit in and struggling to breathe. I let go of the anger that was eating me from the inside out. I didn’t know what to do with it, so I just released it in small breaths. I didn’t know what to do with it, so I gave it up to the universe. I rediscovered faith and turned my attention to finding a path that felt firm beneath my feet. I took the time to get to know myself.

“Can you remember who you were, before the world told you who you should be?” ~Danielle LaPorte

I had defined myself for so long by what I didn’t like, what I didn’t want, and what I thought I was supposed to want, that I found I didn’t know what it was I did want. What did I like? Who was I? I first heard an answer in a ritual in the dark in the mountains. Deep in the core of you, what are you? I quieted my soul and listened, and the word that came from my mouth surprised me.
“Light,” I said, with tears in my throat. And later, the overwhelming answer I found was kindness, goodness, compassion, and joy. When I removed the protective layers from my heart, I discovered the brightness I had been searching for all along within me.

“The dark does not destroy the light; it defines it. It’s our fear of the dark that casts our joy into the shadows.” ~BrenĂ© Brown
The world I live in is a better place for having me in it. I believe that. I feed it my hope and my optimism and my compassion. It does not mean I am perfect. It does not mean my heart is not weighed down by the violence and evil that men do. It does not mean that I do not cry in the quiet nights within the safety of my walls. But I cry because I am connected now. I feel part of the earth beneath me and the sky above me. I feel part of the roots connecting the trees beneath the surface.

“Softness is not weakness. It takes courage to stay delicate in a world this cruel.” ~Beau Taplin

“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.” ~Iain S. Thomas

Do not be ashamed of the ways the world has tested you. Do not be ashamed of the times you have fallen, of the times you have failed to get it right. What matters is that you picked your head up. What matters is that you picked yourself up and you kept going, even though you did not have faith that what lay ahead was better. It is not our perfect moments that define who we are. It is the moments we are imperfect that shows the spirit that lies beneath the flesh and bone. It is how we carry ourselves through those moments that reveal the soul of us.

“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.” ~Buddha

We are meant to follow our own paths. It is never too late to change tracks and find your way back to you. Our original state is harmony and peace. The world is hard but there are others in it, lighting candles in their hearts against the dark, struggling to grow despite the resistance. Every action is a choice. When you stand at the crossroad, open yourself to compassion and hope. You just might be surprised where you find it.

“For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.” ~Cynthia Occelli

[Originally posted September 24, 2014.]
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