"As long as you keep getting born,
it's alright to die some times."
~Orson Scott Card
Opening up by breaking down. This is how I'm feeling right now. If ever I wanted to define "Letting LOose," then here it is.
See that photo above? That's one from a photo shoot this weekend with my dear friends at First Comes Love Photography. It was prior to my falling down a flight of concrete stairs, which happened to be on the other side of the railing I was reclined upon, a miracle of an accident, because what should likely have happened is that I tumbled in the gap between the two sets of stairs to my death or serious injury.
My friends were screaming. One of them ran down the stairs to see how I was. I rebounded quickly. "Don't worry, I'm fine, I'm fine!" I reassured them. It was more significant to me that they be okay than me, something I later learned was playing upon old beliefs that I have to care for everyone else before myself.
Later, when I got home, I began shaking. Fear of what had happened began to settle into my being, and I was still too terrified to take off my jeans to see the damage. I had a sense that the next day, I'd understand why the accident happened, but for now, all I wanted was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to ground me.
A couple of days later, I saw my friends who witnessed the entire accident and we tried to recall precisely what happened. I somehow managed to flip myself over from going down headfirst to land on my hands and knee on my frontside. But, while at their house, I had a couple of glasses of wine and then ended up kicking a surfboard on the ground, only to fall again on my hands and knees before them. This time, I could've revealed how much pain I was in, but once again, I brushed it off as being totally fine.
I felt horrible. Began to beat myself up. The Universe had saved me once from my own mistake, and here I was, tempting fate again? It offered me one big lesson, then a follow-up one, and both times I reacted in the ways that I have before, caring first for someone else before my own needs.
Over the past few days, I've been completely discombobulated, especially because my first realization upon standing up after falling was, "I am SO APPRECIATIVE of my body!" Yet, I've turned to my old habits for comfort, overeating and choosing foods that aren't healthy, spending the whole day wasting away watching shows on my laptop rather than what my heart really wants to do, which is read a book and relax.
I don't know how to relax. And, up until now, I've never seemed to comprehend the lesson the first go-around. How much more could the Universe shake me up to learn the lessons I need to? How am I still not listening and paying attention? How am I still taking everything for granted or falling into my ego again and again?
And then, here we go, beating myself up. See? Old habits die hard.
Perhaps this is the push that I need to fall down so deeply into feeling loathsome about this familiar self-induced pain that it will, in fact, be what spurns the change. Instead of just focusing on what's not working, I can take this feeling of being sick and tired of being sick and tired in order to grow beyond.
I interviewed Sharon Salzberg today, a leader in the Vipassana movement for meditation, compassion, and lovingkindness and asked her about why it's so hard to practice compassion for ourselves, and she told me that it's part cultural, that we believe it's a sign of weakness.
"The good news is that we can practice our ability to be more compassionate."
And so here I am, practicing the ability to understand that I may not get it right the first time. Since I was young, I always wanted to learn how to do it right from the get-go. I didn't want any of the trial and error, any of the stage of being a novice. I just wanted to do it perfectly and expertly every time.
So, I'll let loose and understand that hey, I'm not going to get it right the first time. Maybe not even the five hundredth time, but that if I continue to try my best, then slowly and surely, I'll make progress. This process of healing and living empowered, stepping into my fullest being isn't going to happen overnight, even when it's shocked into my system.
I find that also, I keep stumbling and tripping and doing little things here and there, that continue to call my awareness back to the present moment. Even moving my attention to the side for just a second causes me to fumble and wonder, "WHAT is going on?"
What's going on is the Universe is bringing my attention back to center again and again, as though an invisible force has its fingers gently on my chin and cheeks and saying, "Look. Right here. Here, now. This is where we are. This is where we're focusing. This. Here. Now."
I'm usually an incredible multitasker, but right now, even holding something in my hand while walking or looking away while filling my cup with water is proving challenging. The other lesson I seem to have come away with from the photo shoot is, "Slow the eff down."
Okay, I'll make mistakes. And, I'll slow down. And the rest? Well, I'm learning that it really isn't up to me at all anymore. I was saved from my own demise, and still learning what all means.