It has now been a month since I decided to get back on the blog bandwagon. It has been a month of speaking out what lives in me and risking being seen. What have I noticed? Well, my voice is ready to come tumbling out; there is a lot that I am ready to say. And as I ramp up my writing, it is getting easier to speak up in conversation – to tell people what I am about and about the work that I want to do in the world.
I want to know what you brings you alive, what causes you pain, what questions keep reappearing on your horizon, what lessons you’re learning, what whispers inside of you, what you expect to find on the other side of death.
Kind of heavy for a cocktail party.
So, I don’t go to cocktail parties anymore. Instead, I search out people who want to have these conversations. And I’ve stopped apologizing for wanting to live at depth.
What does that mean – to live at depth? It’s kind of a euphemism for living a spiritual life. It’s a beautiful metaphor (and worth it’s own blog post), but I’m also a little frustrated that “living a spiritual life” needs a euphemism. Is spiritual living really too unpleasant or too embarrassing to talk about in direct terms? It seems so in our society, where spirituality has the reputation for either being fluffy and “woo-woo” or being dogmatic and persecutionist.
My theory is that we accentuate these extremes so that we can justify our disconnection, so that we don’t have to sit with uncomfortable feelings, so that we don’t have to let ourselves be vulnerable.
Living a spiritual life starts within. It doesn’t require selling all of our possessions or entering a religious order. There is nowhere to go because, in the words of Jon Kabat-Zinn, “wherever you go, there you are.” It starts with getting to know ourselves - by meeting ourselves right where we are, sitting with whatever is present, allowing what is uncomfortable or in shadow a place at the table. It’s really only by being with our authentic and true selves that we can share ourselves with the world.
In September, I had the privilege of journeying with my mother-in-law through the last few days of her life. It was one of the most beautifully rich and powerful experiences of my life: full of pain and sadness, full of joy and gratitude. And yet in the weeks following, when acquaintances expressed their condolences and asked how we were doing, it was easier to reply with “we’re pretty wiped out,” or “we’re doing okay,” or some other such banality. It’s hard to talk about the beautiful experience of someone’s passing on the sidelines of a soccer game or in the canned goods aisle.
But I’m going to give it a go. I’m done apologizing for being a spiritual being having a human experience. And I’m hopeful that if I share more of the light (and its shadows) that lives inside of me, others will feel moved to do the same.
And then, together, we can go light up the world.