Many of the best things in my life have come from what seemed liked disaster. From divorce nearly two decades ago came recommitment to love and a career as a therapist. From a family member’s struggle with drugs came the gift of twelve step community. Using adversity as an opening to what may be next in your life is a skill that involves your own surrender to what is so in this moment. If you are experiencing difficult circumstances, ask yourself this question. Is there an opportunity in your life to open to change and creative possibilities that are being suggested by what you are experiencing?
It hurts to be alone when you are feeling pain and that is why it is so important to reach out for support, providing an opportunity for the pain to be communicated and released. When you choose contact over isolation, you also create an energetic field around you that is a magnet for change and possibility. Ultimately, what we have to give is our fullest truth, and sometimes that truth includes wisdom borne of our own pain.
Take a moment and breathe. Remember, we are “relational beings” who thrive on the interchange of energy and love. Is there someone who is missing you right now or who you are missing? Something you want to communicate? Make that contact NOW.
I really get annoyed when things in my life don’t seem perfect — and lately I’ve been noticing that this need for perfection interferes with my ability to experience pleasure. There are the little irritabilities — the powerlessness over slowing traffic in front of my car, the lateness of a spouse who needs to wash her hands before sitting down to the dinner I’ve prepared, the sound of television from the next room when I’d like some quiet time to read. All of these moments point to my own inner difficulty with expectation that the world must perfectly reflect what I want.
When expectation leads to a mind-state of fuming resentment, I know that I’m in trouble. The pleasure I might know in taking time to breathe and see the trees as my car glides slowly by, the satisfaction I could feel in a nutritious meal my hands have crafted, the gratitude I could choose in appreciating the multi-layered texture of sounds my fully working ears can hear (my mother had lost part of her hearing when she reached my age.) All of these are lost to my demand for perfection.
Today, though, I am choosing another path. In this tiny parcel of time which I am inhabiting, I choose pleasure over perfection and the sheer joy of this raucous, curveball-throwing universe which can be mine in all its funky, imperfect and pleasure-filled glory.
That’s what I call progress.
Have you ever noticed how reflections in the water – of trees, clouds and sky appear more brilliantly colorful and real then what we see with our naked eyes?
Just so, our selves reflected in the heart-filled words of loved ones and friends can teach us, helping us to establish a truer vision of who we are and what we may become.
During morning prayers, Jews read the story of the Binding of Isaac, The Akedah, from Genesis 22 in the Torah (Old Testament)
Each day, the reading of The Akedah, in which father and son journey together to a mountain designated by God, brings us many gifts. We watch as Abraham gathers the wood upon which he will offer his son up. Abraham builds an alter of this wood and places his most precious creation upon it, ready to sacrifice him to God.
Contemplating this wood, I have lately been seeing the metaphor of connection to our lives. The species of wood we gather is made up of the precious relationship to family and friends, the livelihoods we choose and the ways we use our time, as the days of our lives are spent.
Like the story in scripture, we are often aflame with passion and other powerful emotions for the stories of our lives and those we have chosen to populate these stories.
Certainly, the tale of Abraham and Isaac reminds us to select the wood carefully upon which our life is to be irrevocably consumed. In the story too is a reminder of the power in dedicating one’s purpose and actions to a will higher than we are sometimes given to know. In doing so, we are linked across the eons to those who came before us and to the seed that has yet to spring forth.
Many fathers are champions of their sons or daughters – seeing their possibilities. My father championed me in the use of focused listening and intelligent action to benefit others. This “championing” began with my grandfather who taught my Dad the importance of self-care in a world that sometimes seems to push us toward exhaustion and burnout.
GUIDANCE ON THE PATH
My father chose a path where his work in the business world rejected over-achievement and where “enough” money was balance with enough time for family, for his music and his books. I would often find him, when I returned home from school, curled in the black leather and curving rosewood of his Eames lounge chair, listening to Brahms, Beethoven, Shubert or Mozart. In those days, he would playfully quiz me, challenging me to guess the names of the composers. As I grew into my high school years, I would find myself, similarly en-wombed in his chair, listening and reading.
SELF-CARE AND SELF-WORTH
My father, released from the entrapment of workaholism, characteristic of so many of the men of his generation, was also busy supporting the quest of my mother to return to college, then graduate school and finally to teaching inner city kids, inspiring them toward lives of worth. Likewise, I was inspired by my father’s dedication and championing of us so that my work became “working on myself” and learning ways that I might help others come to satisfaction with themselves and peace with their family’s legacy.
What is the legacy left to you by your father?
Please share your thoughts below.
My goal as a therapist is to work with clients to uncover what will fulfill them in life – to begin or continue building lives that they love.
Have you ever asked yourself – “Why do people repeat certain behaviors?” I wonder if, rather than out of habit, it is it to practice something until we heal.
Of course there are behaviors that get us into trouble – especially repetitive or difficult ways of being around work, substance use, food, and relationships. Yet it is possible to begin a series of steps that shift our lives in new and more productive directions.
Please remember this: The world needs all of us, needs each of our genius and movement through the broken places we have been given or entered into in this life. At any moment, the journey towards healing begins with a single step.