Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Jumping In.

I recently watched a TED Talk given by researcher Brene Brown that seems to be related to everything I think about lately. She talks about the trust and courage needed during the times when there are no guarantees. (Which, it seems to me, is all the damn time.) That's a hard concept to swallow for someone growing up with science-based gospel, rather than believing in acts of faith.

I needed to hear Brown's message to remember how much happier I am when I am not trying to control, plan, and fiercely predict how life will turn out. It's when I'm afraid of not getting what I want that I try my hardest to control life, and usually in the process make myself crazy.

On a whole, I put my energy towards nourishing life in it's most vulnerable and yet beautiful forms--how we grow food, how we birth our babies, how we educate our children. I have to wave my white flag of surrender, releasing my need for a perfect outcome. Otherwise I get this mad look in my eye as if to say, "I will give you my perfection when you pry it from my cold dead hands." And then my learners, friends, family, co-workers, etc. display a variety of polite and knowing responses, though my learners, at times are understandably less subtle and polite.  My dogs, on the other hand, don't seem to mind. (Yes, I cried on the floor in the middle of muddy December after mopping the white tile floor four times before lunch. Dogs were blissfully unconcerned with my frustrated tears.) And by no means do I confuse perfection with my commitment to excellence.

To me it seems like our society is addicted to perfection: we grow our food with pesticides that guarantee perfect yields; we birth our babies with the use of technological interventions to ensure they come out flawlessly, quickly, and without pain; we strive for a preconceived image of how our life is supposed to look--happy, thin, partnered, employed, and wealthy. I don't think these are healthy practices when they come from a need for control and certainty. I think that they can destroy our ability to connect with ourselves, each other, and the earth. And ultimately I believe that these connections, though they can be the source of devastation and pain at times, are the very things that make me feel alive.

I am partially paralyzed in my left shoulder as a result of the unpredictable nature of life. At times I experience anger, pain, feelings of injustice, an unwillingness to embrace acceptance. When I feel these things and then try to push them away what's left is a desire to change things and control them so that no one else has to suffer as I have suffered.  But I don't think that acting on those feelings would actually bring me the peace that I truly seek. Fighting against what happened wouldn't help me connect to that pain which is part of me. When I've tried this line of thinking on, it usually puts the other people involved in a position of wrong-doing, and that doesn't bring me closer to connection either.

It's with this intention that I am blogging, and taking the advice of E.M. Forster, "Only Connect!"

Catching up with Laura and Buni last summer and enjoying the light. Photo by Rebecca Siegel.

Brene Brown brings humor and an open heart to her TED talk:

1 comment:

  1. Life does seem to flow better when we aren't attempting to control every second. At the very least it is easier to think with a clear head unburdened by the stress of perfection. I have this dream catcher I've been avoiding for a while because it's not a perfect circle and one side is thicker than the other. It's been driving me CRAZY until just now. You have reminded me to embrace the chaotic beauty of life and now I am inspired to find a way to bring balance to something I had been looking at all wrong. Thank you!

    I'm so glad to see you blogging! I love your prayer flags. It's a very nice addition.