Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Do be do be do

          It's just recently occurred to me that I still invest a lot of energy in my past, so much so that I've planned a blog or two to write about it.  Well, this afternoon I asked myself, "Who needs it anymore?"  Not me.  I've come to realize that the more I dink around in what's already happened last week, last month, last year or even seven years ago, the less energy I have to spend on doing what needs to be done today. 
          Right here.
          Right now.
          In the course of teaching a self empowerment workshop a few days ago, I shared with my students the idea that your self esteem is the animation of your ego.  It's what we do that allows us to see who we are and what we will become.  It's not enough to simply want something -- a new job, a healthier body, a reciprocal relationship.  In order to create those realities, we need to engage outwardly.  Update and send out resumes.  Eat better, exercise, and listen to our body's messages.  Sift out our priorities and make the time to be with friends and loved ones.
          Take it from someone who's repeated affirmations until my brain hurt:  sometimes you just gotta get out of your head, get up off the yoga mat, and move forward. 

          Yes, there's a lot to be said about facing and working through issues that have been buried or denied.  There's a lot to be gleaned from healing the hurts of the past.  But what if I've already done years of my own work?  What if I know I may never get closure with a person from my ancient history?  What if I'm willing to take responsibility for my part in the drama, but they aren't?  What then?
          When people say to me, "Just get over it," I hear jagged nails screeching down a chalkboard in the back of my mind.  That's an easy thing for an outsider to say, particularly anyone who doesn't know me well and has no idea of the incredibly challenging strides I've already made as I strive to leave the past behind.
          In the course of researching for my latest novel, I've been watching interviews with survivors of the Holocaust.  One very wise woman said, "How can you ever get over a thing like the Holocaust?  You can never get over it, but over time, you can make it into something different.  You can see it in another way.  You can live your life and look back and know it wasn't the end."
          It is with humble amazement that I have read countless narratives of survivors who went on with their lives and thrived, despite the horrors they had witnessed and experienced.  They married and had children.  They ran successful businesses.  They engaged with the world to share their stories so the world could know the truth of their imprisonment and the necessity of their liberation.  I've learned it's in what the survivors have done in the years since the Holocaust that reveal their inner strength and determination to remain free, to embrace the life all of them felt grateful to have.
          Their unthinkable suffering and subsequent resurrection is an inspiration.

          So which comes first?  The intention or the action?  It's the old "chicken and the egg" thing I suppose.  As for me, I already know what I want.  I'm clear on a few things I'd like to see happen by the end of the calendar year.  And I'm also clear on how I keep myself from moving forward because I'm afraid that if I try again, the past will repeat itself. 
          Today it dawned on me that I'm the one keeping myself imprisoned with that testy little thought.  I'm the one who keeps rerunning memories in my mind.  I'm the one holding on to the anger and the impatience.  The one who keeps turning the wheel of the past, thinking I can change it...or at least change my feelings about it.
          I find I can't get over it...but I can get ON with it.  I can get on with doing something different (even just one simple choice) that can make a difference in how I feel about what's happening now.  I can get on with putting one foot in front of the other and choosing a different road to embark upon. 
          I can re-read Portia Nelson's amazing "Autobiography in Five Short Chapters" and know I'm finally embodying chapter five (see below).  And in that "doing," I can finally be aware of the gifts that come when I shed the skin of my past.  To simply let myself do what needs to be done and then let the rest be what it's meant to be.

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

By Portia Nelson
I
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I fall in.
I am lost ... I am helpless.
It isn't my fault.
It takes me forever to find a way out.
II
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I am in the same place
but, it isn't my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.
III
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in ... it's a habit.
My eyes are open
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.
IV
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.
V
I walk down another street.