This post arrived in my inbox at just the right time. I have one week to go till I re-submit my PhD thesis, my family have gone ahead to South Africa, and I am alone with this work, gifted with a slice of time to birth it, temporarily freed from the obligations of family life. Yet, I feel this heaviness, and fear, despite being so close to the finish. It stops me in my tracks. Dangerous quicksands. So this felt like a miracle. A reminder to tread lightly through these last tasks, to allow them the space to happen, and continue to proceed one light step at a time towards completion. As Brenda puts it so well in her post, ‘I go small and lightly so I don’t stop completely and let insecurity win’. Beautiful and timely words indeed.

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Lightly Child, Lightly

It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them…So throw away your baggage and go forward. There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet, trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair. That’s why you must walk so lightly. ~ Aldous Huxley, Island

(Above passage discovered in David Kanigan’s beautiful blog Lead. Learn. Live.)

I have the hardest time going lightly.  I’m damn sensitive. I absorb every comment, look and gesture.  Criticism is felt deeply, so is praise. I can’t turn it off.  My friend tells me I analyze  too much but I secretly know I love to analyze and it is natural and involuntary for me. When you intensely process life  you do not go lightly.

Want…

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Fear and the Initiate

What is it about initiation that requires a state of fear to emerge? This is in addition to the exhiliration and the wonderment of excavating the layers of pain that have accumulated over a lifetime.  In anthropology, it is a central question in the vast literature on initiations across myriad cultures – are initiations by necesity violent and disruptive? Violence itself requires clarification here.  Yes, many initiations contain elements of physical violence, but there is also the violence of rupture in the psyche as the old ways of being are dismantled and the initiate is cast into a state of confusion.

This is where I am.  Stranded in the West, the place of purification and release, writing chapter after chapter of a life story which becomes more detailed and demanding even as the time I have to write it shrinks.  Aren’t initiates supposed to be unfettered by family obligations and parenting responsibilities? What does undertaking the deep work of examining your life in this kind of detail mean when you are NOT the ideal neophyte? To be plain, how do you do it?  Right now, I’m blundering about bludgeoning my way through without much finesse or clarity.  I snatch writing time.  I wonder how on earth I will finish my thesis, or write my way out the west when the baby is sick, school pick up is now and the laundry won’t do itself.

I see and read the wonderful work of other mothers, with more children than me, and I feel a little envious of their composure and connection to a deep well of joyful conversation with the Creative that right now seems to be elusive.

I recognise a pain story here.  The one I tell about how other people have the answers and resources, not me.  I feel this one tugging on my arm now.  A shadow that whispers if it’s not perfect it’s not worth doing, and leaves me floundering in the messy uncompleted.

In between, I scan the skies for signs and melody.   Anything to give some indication that it’s worth continuing.

And here’s the rub.  There is no choice but to continue.  And I mean that.  Signs or no signs, when you’re this deep in the woods, you kind of have to just get on with it.  Sigh!  And there’s me hoping for some dazzling sideshow of brilliance and recognition to keep me going.  Entering the Wheel of Initiation on the high of a quasi-miraculous series of lucid dreams means its hard to let go of wanting those fireworks to keep going off.

Anyway.  I’m glad I wrote this.  Gave myself the permission to write.  To be here now.  Sitting in the dark, tapping this piece into my phone for a quick upload.  Hanging in there, fearful and without the razzle dazzle.  Somehow going forward.  Inch by inch.  The state of fear is a messenger.  It tells me to watch out for those inner saboteurs who would gladly kill my fledging process because there is not enough acclaim or tangible reward in sight.  It reminds me that sometimes its necessary to keep your head down, crack a joke and get on with it.  Cheeky smile intact.  Judgement put on ice.  And if I really need a sign, just look up.  There it is, on the left side of Waterloo Bridge, crossing to the North Bank.  Fight the Nothingness.  Big Ben chimes eleven, and I’m done.

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