Bravery is not fearlessness. I have fear. And worry. But I'm brave. Bravery is doing it when you're afraid. When fear settles in and tries to stop you.
Behind me sits chaos. Can you see it? The whirling, swirling of it. The clouds of color and the lack of structure. It moves in contrast to the crispness of me and my dog. The clearness of our image, the calmness of our pose. But you see, just as I manipulated the photograph so there would appear to be something brewing behind me, I manipulate the outward manifestation of me to hide the chaos within. I took this photograph when I was in Philadelphia last week. I went alone.
I'm scared to go places alone.
I don't think people know this about me. I present as having my mojo on. I present as though I've got it all together and I'm really confident and I'm really comfortable when, in actuality, I'm pretty scared most of the time. Times that I sit in my car in the parking lot of the grocery store, just getting it together enough to be able to go in and shop. Times that I'm driving home from somewhere and even though I really need to stop I just won't let myself because the anxiety of having to walk through the crowd is too much.
And so having taken this solo trip across the country a few weeks ago, and then a trip to Philadelphia - walking the streets, seeing the Liberty Bell and Constitution Square - and realizing that I'm doing this on my own, well…this is freakin’ amazing actually.
Of course, it helps to have my dog…
Lately my dog and I have been reading Eckart Tolle's book A New Earth. Well, I have been reading it, and she has been cuddled up next to me, sharing in the experience in that cosmic and connected way that comes easy with her and often not so easy with those spirits that are in human form. The stories that we create about each other, those don't happen with animals. Animals don't do that to each other. And I don't do that with Nava and she does not do that with me. It is as it is in that moment with my dog. She is hungry or tired or playful. She is energetic or just wants to sit close to be pet. And so, when I am with her there are few outside stories that I have to create about my relationship with her. Sure, there are times I may lay a human emotion on her and then get all tweaky that she needs something that she most likely does not. But lately I am quick see that this is my need and then I smile at the need to create the need in the first place. It is all pretty simple. We are just us. And it is good.
So lately I have been taking this concept - the just she and I in the moment of us - and I have been looking at it in the bigger realm of all of life. Thinking a lot about being in the story and so not being in life. I’ve actually been witnessing myself for many months now. The witnessing of rote habits and reactions, the going to the story and missing the present. It’s interesting that I am reading the Tolle book now. As I did not know that it was about just this. The book obviously came to me when it was supposed to. (Though actually I had been told about this book a while ago and I so had no interest in reading it at that time…a whole other story!!)
Anyway...back to the story. Being aware of the habit of it, of going to the story shows me how often I take myself out of the present interaction. It’s subtle and easy not to notice until I notice. And then I notice all the time. In everything
And so now I am the witness. And this witnessing, it is immediate now. Almost simultaneous to the story cropping up at times.
And I have taken this witnessing outside of just noticing my own internal monologue to my interactions and my responses in the world. And I am seeing the stories, the filters, the rote reactions and responses when I am in an interaction with others. It is no mistake that I am here. Having this fall in New England. With my parents. My family of origin. Where many patterns began.
And this witnessing and noticing and being aware, what I am discovering is that I don't think we - as people, friends, lovers, family - I don't think know each other. I think we know our stories of each other. I think we know these stories very well. And I think we think we know what each other's stories are about ourselves. And I think this is common. For couples. For people in relationship. For people we have known for a long time and also for people we may have just met. We sit in the stories. I know I do. I carry them around - these stories about others and about myself - and these stories color what I think. And then, to really enhance the cosmic joke of all of this, I think that this is real. That the stories are real!
But sometimes you wake up.
And so now my rote habits and reactions have a witnessing. And when I am witnessing I am out of the story and into the present happening of all of this that is life. It is a dance, this place of being in the it of it. It turns everything on it's head. And creates such a place of possibility.
It is then that we can look at each other and see. And this is what I see.
I see that the things that I maybe think don't work or don't fit, it is the stories that just don't fit. And because the stories have been around for so long - and we so easily think that they are real, we just accept the not working/not fitting when really we don't really know each other at all. I want to challenge that notion - the not fitting, the not working - and say that maybe what doesn’t fit is our stories.
To say that we don’t fit when we don’t really know who each other is, well that is a loss to me. I want to know you, not my story of you. And I want you to know me. The me that is not my story of me, or your story of me.
The me that I believe has always been there, and is finally feeling that it is safe to come out.
As long as my dog is with me...
Mother, Wife, Friend, Sister, Daughter, Dancer, Rower, Runner, Dog and Cat lover.