I wrote an email to my sales director today, expressing a desire to talk with her about what I've learned while being down in the mess of myself for the last several months. "This process has humbled and softened me," I told her, but then I started to wonder what else I would say about what I've learned down here in the muck.
I'm not afraid anymore, for one. For another, I'm no longer angry about my circumstances. I'm willing to accept that my ego needs to be set aside so that I can put g-d and family ahead of what I used to think would make everything okay. I've learned that the prizes, as nice as they are, will never say that they love me; that even after I do earn the suit and the car, those objects will not conspire to throw me a surprise birthday party; that while they're nice, and pretty, and might change my life situation a little, they won't change me or make me relevant. Those objects, whether attainable or not are not that important or relevant, because all they do is stand as symbols of something which actually is important: the people whose lives become better because I said hello to them, or put some stuff on their face, or asked them to help me make other people's lives better; and the people who make my life better.
Through this process of telling the world that I have had such a powerful obsession with externalizing my own value that I was willing to put on the line things which actually are important in my life (my health and relationships), I have learned what is really important. I have gained some amount of peace, and taught myself to trust again. My most recent teacher, Eckhart Tolle, says that fear is simply a lack of trust. The idea that fear would be simply anything seemed like a completely incomprehensible concept to me before all this, but I get it now:
Trust your moment. Trust where g-d has put you. Trust yourself and be present, everything else will come.
At this point, I don't know where my moments will take me, but I'm starting to trust the process more and trust myself to simply know what to do with whatever the universe/moment (or g-d) brings me or sends me into. I can lead from wherever I am, because (as has been demonstrated by the readership of this blog in the last several months), people will listen to me if I tell them why they should. Before this, I didn't know why anyone would listen to me, and I was so frustrated at feeling unheard that I thought it was personal. Turns out, you just needed to know where I had been.
I think I've shown you every step of my madness. I've borne my soul, screamed, cried, and become a little more enlightened and you listened. Through all of it. And I think that's because when a leader shows their darkness people will look, and then the grace, patience, and beauty mean so much more. The darkness, the scars, the tears showed you that I am human, incomplete, and no longer in denial about what is really important. More meaningful, though, is the experience of no longer wailing away in the darkness. I acknowledge that it's there, that not only are there parts of me that are not perfect as I would have them, but that those aspects of my character make me more beautiful, even if they aren't attractive to some people (this applies both physically and spiritually); and those aspects, experiences, whatever, don't need to be redeemed. They don't.
All these years of self-abuse will not be redeemed by the lessons that I have learned, or the ones that I hope to teach others. It's not possible, and even if it was, I don't want it. Those experiences are relevant to who I am, the scars that they left are relevant and it's all part of who I BE. They won't protect me from future scars, from disappointment, from failure or loss. They are now even too small for me to hide behind, but present enough in who I be to share relevant answers when I am asked about them.
And so, while I don't know exactly where this moment is going to take me, as I sit present in its company, I know that whatever I do in the next moment will be an effort to bring peace and joy into the hearts of the people I share my moments with. It won't be perfect. I'll need reminding. I will fall, become wounded or ill. I will lose my patience; want to destroy myself again. I will watch fear and anger pop up in my egoic mind. I will feel pain, both in my physical body, and in my "pain body", but because my eyes are open to reality (at this moment at least), I can carry that with me into the next moment and remind myself what's truly important and not have to be so serious about it, either.
The prizes that I covet will not love me. You will.
The cars and suits will not celebrate with me. You will.
Because you are what is important, not that stuff. You are what's relevant, and because of that fact I already have relevance. Knowing that I can go forth and show the world my relevance, be at peace with the results of that, and earn the symbols of leadership and relevance so that I don't always have to rely on my darkness as a demonstration of where I've been.
I'm not done yet, but I am so grateful that you have been here with me in this crazy, messy place. You can bet that I will be there with you in your crazy, messy places too. The Buddha said that life is suffering; another buddha said that the only people who don't have problems are dead ones. However, no teacher ever said that we have to be so serious about all that suffering all of the time, and I think not taking all this shit so seriously is how we form peace and joy and enlightenment.
Being forced into the muck but learning to smile anyway. That's what I've learned.