I was recently in Vancouver, BC. And there are parts of the city, that for lots of reasons, are less than beautiful at first glance. There is a particular street that has several factors working against it. So, I’d be justified in saying it’s not beautiful. It also tends to smell a little like a chicken rendering plant from time to time. The point is, I am a bit more challenged to find what’s good about it, than in much of the rest of the city. Until, the sun comes from behind the street, lights up the city skyline and reaches all the way to this fence. All the way to these delicate flowers and fills them with light. Which I wouldn’t have seen, if I weren’t looking. If I weren’t hoping to find something beautiful. Thing is, I had to let go of the idea of ugly before I could find the other. Sometimes, maybe it’s just letting go of an idea… maybe it’s just that simple.
I had always heard orchids took a lot of care, starting with being in the right climate. I love how delicate they are, but stay away from them as I can’t keep a cactus alive. Maybe it’s time. To take what I’ve learned. And try again. Maybe it’s time to believe I can do it. Because maybe, just maybe, it’s not that complicated.
I have been listening lately to people talk about how they feel too deeply or give too freely, all of it leaving them open to hurt. And the people in particular that I’m thinking of are two of my favorite people. Not just because of who they have been to me, but because of who they are. As people. One of them wants to shut down, close her heart, because she gets hurt when she opens it. The other feels he has given so much of himself to others that there is now very little left. To give at all. Both have gotten hurt as a result. The thing is–the problem is, I think it’s all connected. The abilities I think we have to open our heart, feel too intensely, leaving us hurt, give too much, leaving us depleted, is all part of the wondrous people we are. It’s deeply entwined with the way we receive and give love. The way we express. The way she is able to be on stage in front of hundreds of people and stir someone’s soul with her voice. And the way he is able to translate a vision of light and emotion in his head through a lens and have it bring someone to tears. And I have to believe this about myself. The areas of my being that allow me to feel the most pain and often frustration, are the very parts that allow me to see beauty in the world and people around me. To shut down the part of me that feels “too” deeply, means I shut off the ability to feel joy as well as pain. Even what we create, if we are able to create at all, becomes a partial expression. It seems like a shame to put out the fire, just because it might burn me, when it’s the same fire that warms me when I’m cold. And that. is the struggle.
Sometimes, I have to visit and re-visit a concept before it really starts to take hold. And this thing about memories has really started . To take hold. I have spent a lot of time with certain memories lately, afraid to let them go. More to the point, afraid of letting the content of those memories go. For fear of losing part of myself along with them. Part of my actual identity. And this morning, with the help of time, sun and a little quiet, I began, not to let them go exactly, but to allow them to take their place. As memories. It’s funny that when you’re not afraid of losing something anymore, the power that fear holds over you disintegrates. I had the secret all along. The past can be the past now. And I’m still here. A little different maybe. But alive. And here. Able to smile at those memories. And it feels good
The good thing about exposure is that you finally get to the heart of things. Truth. Sometimes ugly, sometimes just unexpected, sometimes, it’s actually beautiful. But always truth, because that is what light does. It exposes. And it’s not subjective. The bad thing about exposure, if there is a bad thing, is that the parts being exposed are vulnerable. And able to be hurt. But anyone who’s worked a camera knows you need light or you have nothing. I haven’t figured out the key to staying in light and being protected from pain. I think it has to do with holding on to truth and standing behind it. Wearing it. Once you know what it is. Living it. And maybe it’s just knowing that pain goes away. But truth doesn’t.
It’s impossible when light shines brightly enough, not to be exposed. Yesterday, I had a conversation where the light was pretty bright. Tired of hiding from it, I stood there. Loosened my stiff neck. Opened my heart. And let the light, well… enlighten. And while it was painful, what the light revealed was bigger than my pain. It was bigger than the whole of me. And I want something bigger than me right now. Surrendering to it was the only thing I could do. Not because I’m great, but because I’m not.
The word, surrender, means to yield. To relinquish. To submit. To completely give up control or power. To stop resisting. And this concept of handing something over, can happen in steps. Sometimes. This time. It has taken a lot to pry my fists open to let go of something. And the strange thing about it is that it didn’t happen like I thought it would. There was no bitterness involved. No reluctance in the end. What finally loosened my grip was love itself. The most powerful force in the universe. The only force that could break through my will to hang on. It broke through my reasoning. My hopes. My beliefs. And even with all of its power, Love opened my hands, gently. Sweetly. With grace. Someday, I hope if I practice enough, I will get good at surrendering to this love. And a lot more quickly.
I am thrown by change and the very weight of it. Today, I was in the grocery after work. And I just wanted to sit down. Right there in the deodorant aisle. ( I have a 15 year old son. I’m there a lot). I just wanted to sit there. And not talk. And have people walk around me. I don’t know what keeps us from just sitting down in the aisles. Of course I kept walking. Throwing things in my basket. But today, it felt good just to think about it. Wow. Hello, my name is Ellen. One small step away from visiting hours and meds on a tray.
Sometimes you find yourself in a situation you never thought you’d be in. Exactly the opposite of what you’d be in. I found myself there a week ago. A simple matter really. and not worth revisiting… but at the time, it made my head spin. Literally. I removed myself from it and sat alone in this room. in a place I now lovingly refer to as the twilight zone. I was doing well at feeling sorry for myself and a bit self-righteous, when suddenly I saw nothing but this light through the window. It was clear. and black and white. and still. but alive. and until a fire started in a restaurant up the street, for those few minutes, the only thing that mattered. Maybe the only thing that should have ever mattered.
Along this path… to myself, I have been trying really hard to stay in this light. It’s light that allows me to see what’s inside. And what’s in front of me. Right now. I get to see things as they truly are. And occasionally I get a glimpse of what’s next. Just a glimpse. The past few days, however, when I look around I see shadow. I’m standing in it. Unable to move, really. In photography, shadows can tell the best secrets. They can add drama and mystery. They hold stories. But there’s a need for light. For exposure. To help tell the stories. Sometimes… sometimes, shadows simply block the light. Recently, in an effort to make something happen, I stood in my own way and blocked my own light…