Monday, May 14, 2007

looking inward

It is always slightly frustrating with a bit of refreshing mixed in to discover a new character flaw in yourself. Such was the case for me yesterday. I am caught somewhere between apathy and cynicism. Oh not when it comes to poverty or environmentalism, spiritual growth or politics; I have all kinds of passion for those things. This insidious presence is hidden in my personal hopes for the future and in my relationships, past and present. It seems I play the "I don't care" card when things are difficult and then when things start to get better I can't seem to believe it will stay that way. Not with everything of course. But there are some things.....

I suppose apathy is a common malady among our pampered society. The feelings that come with becoming totally aware of the destruction of our environment are terrifying so we hide behind excuses. "It's not like I could personally change enough to fix it." Or the suffering that so many on our planet are enduring due to poverty, oppression and violence is so overwhelming to the human heart that it is just easier to put it aside and perhaps foster a foreign child to ease our burning conscience. But these are bigger picture items. I am talking about what lurks inside of some of us. The less obvious apathy. The defensive, protective apathy. I am talking about how even the most socially and ecologically conscious person can bumble through life without truly giving in to hope or making a personal connection outside their innermost circle. I cannot address a community of uncaring if I cannot face it within myself.

Without premeditation or conscious awareness of it, I have begun to build myself this safety net of choosing not to care. The thoughts" I'm fine" "It doesn't really matter" "It's good enough" have settled in my mind like roots in primed soil. The answer "I'm fine" is easier than risking public tears when I'm just not fine. Or risking someone else's apathy when the I am truly excited or happy. But where is the honesty in that? Or the permission for someone else to be truly honest with me? Human emotion is gloriously messy and if I don't let you in my messy house how can I possibly expect you not to be embarrassed about yours?

The tremendous awe that comes with the birth of a child grows and changes with each new step that child takes. It is common and yet so uncommon. I say revel in it, talk about it, share it, let it render you speachless. It is bigger than it is given credit for.

Similarly, the ache that comes with the loss of a loved one is overwhelming. Don't fight it. Soak in it. Mix in the joy of having known that person and throw in some sweet memories. Marinade your heart in that concoction of emotion and walk through it. How much healthier and compassionate would we all be if we could be totally honest with even ourselves about the magnitude of our feelings? How much more empathy could we have globally if we could unlock the doors of our own hearts?

I am filled to overflowing with big emotions. I am remorseful and cheerful and angry and excited and sad and joyful. I am courageous and I am terrified. I am in the moment and I am hopeful for the future. I am satisfied and content and complicated. I am loved and loving and learning to love better. I am learning to hold on and I am learning to let go. And maybe I am melodramatic but you know what? I am O.K. with that. I am really really O.K. with that. I am small in stature but I refuse to shrink in personality. It is not the timid that change the world.

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