Working Together

"We shape our self
to fit this world

and by the world
are shaped again..."

Excerpt from "Working Together" © David Whyte
in The House of Belonging

Many Rivers Press

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Plucked up - Word of the Year: Courage

For now I need your hidden love.
I'm cold as a new razor blade.
You left when I told you I was curious,
I never said that I was brave.
                                                        Leonard Cohen, So Long Marianne 
In working with the word of the year 'encouragement' in 2013 it was impossible to avoid it. Out of the heart of this arose my word for 2014: Courage.  It became a full time job  trying to maintain the perception of myself as a cowardly, unfortunate waif while allowing all the good fortune I received this last year in. I'm still pretty good at downsizing myself in my mind though.  Good enough to realize I had better stop wasting energy playing musical chairs and claim my seat of courage or suffer losing what I've worked so hard trying to gain. 

I have taken on tasks that require I maintain a certain focus and engender confidence within others to accomplish what I set out to do.  The quiet conversations with myself about how unfortunate and inconsequential I am are becoming pretty absurd at this point but I've a strong habit of them. It is my hope to alter my perception of myself and line it up more accurately with who I actually am with the strength that I've acquired. That is my hope anyway...brave is not an adjective I have ever used in describing myself seriously.  I prefer relating to the common deserter in heroic tales and to melt comfortably into cynicism and  the safety of self deprecating humor in the critical throws of commitment.  However, now I find myself pledged to do work that shoves me well outside my comfort zone and into a realm of needing to be secure enough with myself and my subject matter to instill confidence and to encourage an intimate conversation with strangers about their mortality.  

"Seriously? How did I get HERE? I obviously didn't think this thing through very well before I took it on. What happened to my resting on my laurels in my old age?  I have a hefty set of laurels going completely to waste!" 

This is the kind of dialogue I have to wade through every morning over coffee when I write in my journal.  It is like having a toothache or some sort of chronic pain or tinnitus - or all three.  It is disastrous thinking that I've no more time for but it sits there on the throne glaring at me as omnipresent gravity itself and yammering on as persistent as machinery hammering out iron nails for my breakfast. I'm not kidding.  Every morning. Fortune would be my being in a bad marriage and I'd at least have something to push against.  As it is, I have a habit... a very verbose addiction to cowardice made up of shadows and smoke. 

My experience with ending addictions, whether they be thought processes or physical obsessions has given me the understanding that I really need  to know the nature of the beast before I can face it down.  I think I have a pretty good grasp at this point of what making myself small and insignificant allowed me in my life.  It was a protection; a camouflage, if you will, from making the big mistakes (which I made anyway, by the way) but mostly it provided a way for my not having to take responsibility for them.  It is not enough to say, " Oh no no.  I'm not going to be that way anymore!" There has to be something of equal weight to replace the pressure that is regulating the need to guzzle from the little bottle labeled "drink me" allowing my release from culpability. 
There needs to be something to keep the alarms and catastrophic fears from being triggered and running away with the situation. In my case currently it is the burden of disappointment and going back on a promise...the promise being bringing the best of myself forward. Giving in is a failure I do not have the strength to endure. The thought of it is weight enough to quiet much of my inner chatter but there is still the journey to contend with; moving and growing with the work; making the occasional mistake.  The actual center shifting to something more akin to self respect rather than a flurry of fecklessness and doubt is required. Without a place within me for my experiences to nurture and grow, I witness their constant exposure to erosion by my incessant degradation and abasement.  At some point,  I need access to my personal Mercy Seat so whatever reclines there in my way currently must move. It has to be replaced with what should be there in the first place...perhaps faith in myself and my journey? I don't know.

It is my hope this year that I can find and keep a little courage so I can do the work I set out to do and lay the nagging bits to rest with respect and appreciation for a job well done but, now, very over. We shall see, as the earth makes another go at the sun, what is revealed.

Thank you to foofightersVEVO for access to this video

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