This blog has been quiet for over a month now, and yet, it has been anything but quiet behind the blog. Shifting sands, rolling waves, sweeping tides. Water is my favorite metaphor; it explains so much without needing all the details. Consider this for example: Imagine a pail propped up above a door with a string attached to its handle so as to dump water on the next person who opens the door. We all get it. The past several months have been something quite close to this experience. Only, you know before you open the door that the pail of water is there, and yet, you must walk through it anyway.
To fill this in a little bit I can share now that the company my husband worked for imploded. In the midst of a fragile and slumped economy they were a gem of a toy company and doing well. A few board room meetings later, some corporate “strategic adjustments”, and it no longer exists. Vicariously I’ve learned enough about business to know I don’t get it. I’m in what society calls, in sometimes patronizing tones, a “helping profession.” Business models elude me. And yet I wonder if it is possible for “helping” to be central to a thriving business or career when it functions outside of service delivery to human or animal need? Like, toys, for example. It’s a question Brent (husband) has considered over the past nine months as the wheels fell off the bus.
He decided to consciously try something different in his approach to change. Brent chose to be a thoughtful observer to his worry. He worked at being open, completely, to possibility and to what each day brought to his door. His intention has been much like a cat that goes out into the wild and brings back treasures for his master and then leaves them at the foot of the door. He discovered unexpected events, interesting twists and remarkable opportunity in lieu of dead mice. Brent has been through mergers and sales and wormholes and sinkholes before. AAA doesn’t make a map for it but he could sketch his out for you. I’m sure you have a map too. We all have some worry maps in our mind. Theses are maps that tell a story about the story we tell ourselves when we are worried. The Wisdom Keepers taught me this one a long time ago. I just didn’t get it for years.
“Don’t always believe what you tell yourself.”
They’ve also insisted the following:
“There’s no such thing as stuck.”
They’ve even gone so far as to say:
“You really can’t go wrong when you follow your gut.”
It’s not meant to be cryptic or cliché. They are completely serious. Not even just serious. Certain. I have witnessed this kind of certainty and it takes my breath away. It blooms from a quality of perspective achieved through years of change, loss and enduring love: it’s the accomplishment of a lifetime, their lifetime. Many Wisdom Keeper’s embody this kind of knowing. It’s as if it’s encoded in their being. Regardless of memory loss and disease, they carry it with them. We have the opportunity to experience this knowing, especially in the presence of those who do. And when you have, you learn something about paying attention to life. Paying attention in a certain way.
I’ve always liked what Erma Bombeck has to say about worry.
“Worry is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere.”
Brent and I wondered about the possibility of letting it go and still do. Treating worry instead like a familiar house guest. Greeting it at the front door and then gently escorting it to the back door and seeing it on its way out. Is this possible? Smug and doubt like to shrug this question off. Which is why I am grateful to have Wisdom Keepers and roaming teachers (everyone) in my life to remind me of the truth. Instead the question is: How is this possible? Brent asks himself the same question. Father of two, husband of one, co-holder of mortgage, house full of stuff, stuff full of history, head full of heart, mind full of worry, body full of tension. The how is in recognizing We are far, far more powerful than we think. And the “think” part is key. It’s often the thinking that gets in the way of letting what visits us be what it IS. Rumi refers to these aspects of ourselves as unexpected visitors. In one of my favorite poems he describes our being human as a guest house for all visitors..
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
~ Rumi ~
It was not always a smooth ride, the past nine months. Much like gestation it seemed many times. But we were both cognizant of a different path, a preferred path. Brent placed his hands on a wheel that had been grooved and well-worn with the habit of worry. It required full weight to cut a new path. Possibility and worry, like parallel rails that eventually split off to separate coasts. Thankfully, we were on the same train. In the end, he describes it now as serendipity. He’s more comfortable placing what mysteriously ended up truly okay, better than okay, to something outside of himself. Knowing him, I get this. But, since I share a home with him, I could see more clearly what he could not. Like a sleep-walker who packs a lunch in the middle of the night and then quietly assumes that their roommate did it for them. I can remind him, the way we all need reminding: We pack our own lunch.