It's painful to feel like you're failing to be ambitious or motivated enough or feeling as grateful as you feel you should be. What if we were able to make room for these feelings tonite and just let them be there? No guilt, no needing to plan a fabulous year ahead or even know what you're going to eat for breakfast tomorrow. What if we simply allowed ourselves to feel what we are feeling right this moment? We always want things to be OR. Gratitude OR despair. Love OR hate. Inspiration OR depression. What if we allowed ourselves to feel confusion AND curiosity AND grief AND hope for the next twelve months? The human heart knows not of the rules we fashion for how we think we should feel. It's all in there swimming around together. I am starting to think that's ok? And if that's ok and we don't have to spend our precious energy fighting ourselves, putting things into categories, locking some things away to keep forever and banishing other things, desperate to cut them out of us for good, what would we have the energy to do? To see? To make? To BE? Gosh, I really want to know.
This night and tomorrow and the days after, I'm going to see what happens if the only resolution I make is to allow it all: feelings, fears, thoughts, and on and on. I'm sick of grinding myself down in the name of motivation, progress, perfection, and getting upset because I fail to live up to a standard that is super-human and therefore impossible. I'm a human (so are you) and perhaps giving myself the gift of being human is the belated Christmas gift that I didn't know I wanted and needed.
When (not if) I fail at and get frustrated with this goal, I will allow those feelings, too. In those moments, I will kindle and rekindle the fire in my heart with theatre and poetry and music and wonder and good food and people I love and my sweet cat and big dreams, and kindle it yet again when it burns out and grows cold for the upteenth time. I want to know what happens if I forgive myself the anger that arises when I can't do something fast enough, well enough, and when I feel like I myself am not enough. I want to see what it's like if I greet whatever comes up with "Well, hey there. Come on in, you're welcome here", even if I am feeling stingy and want to throw a tantrum and make that thought or feeling to leave and never show it's face ever again. So much of my suffering comes not from the things that happen to me (getting sick, accruing debt, the different phases of friend and family relationships, a professional hardship, a creative block) but to how I punish myself for the things that are inevitable for all of us in life from time to time.
There's a Buddhist story of the two arrows: when something painful happens to us, that's the first arrow. It's not our fault and we have a right to feel that pain that results from said event. But we shoot ourselves with the second arrow when we choose to punish ourselves for the thing that wasn't our fault in the first place. "How could I be so stupid? How dare I feel that way? How could I be such a failure?" All second arrows, shot at ourselves.
I'm going to try to lay down my bow and arrow and give myself a chance to heal from all the times I've wounded myself. Call a truce, see what it's like to wave the white flag of surrender. Allow it all to just exist as it is.
As violinist Itzhak Perlman said “Sometimes it is the artist's task to find out how much music you can still make with what you have left.” Maybe that's our task as human beings, too. Maybe our job isn't to stop all the painful feelings from coming, but to notice them, love ourselves not despite but because of them, and lay the hurts in the pile alongside the pieces of joy we've collected and from this pile of tangled treasure, believing that there is gold waiting to be found and shared with someone else who also needs a reminder of the beauty that lay inside the rubble.
There's magic in this mess that's YOU. It might be time that we learn to love going emotional and spiritual dumpster diving. There's no knowing what we might find. Happy New Year, Friends.