Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Accepting your own imperfections

I am a worrier. I come from a long line of worriers, and one of my daughters also got the worry gene. This came up again yesterday because I was traveling -- always a time for the worrier to come leaping to the fore -- and as I left my hotel in Boulder to drive to the Denver airport the worrier was in full force. Did I have everything? Had I left anything behind? Would I remember to gas up before I returned the rental car? Had I left myself enough time to get to the airport? Would they charge me for the old scratch on the left fender that I failed to write down because I was in such a hurry to leave the airport after I picked up the car?

You get the gist: round and round and round she goes, and where she stops -- well, she never seems to stop! And listening to myself chanting this anxious litany, I heard another voice -- one I thought was my own -- telling her it was silly to worry about ANY of those things, as the die was already cast.

But at some point during the drive I remembered a conversation I'd had with my neighbor before I left, about listening to the voices in your head and figuring out what their jobs are. And I realized that my worrier does have a role to play: she's the one who makes sure I leave on time, makes sure I take everything with me, makes sure I am the responsible person I like to think I am.

The problem is, she needed to be thanked and acknowledged for that; she needed reassurance that she had done her job well -- and I was just shouting her down and telling her she was foolish, so she couldn't be sure she'd been heard or successful. So I brought in my loving mother voice (yes, I'm doing all this as I'm driving to the airport) and patted her on the shoulder, gave her a big hug, thanked her for making all those arrangements for me and doing such a good job keeping me responsible and timely, and explained that her job was done: that she could take a nap now; it was my turn to drive.

This morning I was reading in Anam Cara, and I stumbled upon a passage I've probably quoted here before, but it definitely bears repeating:

"Nietzche said that one of the best days in his life was the day when he rebaptized all his negative qualities as his best qualities. In this kind of baptism, rather than banishing what is at first glimpse unwelcome, you bring it home to unity with your life. This is the slow and difficult work of self-retrieval. Every person has certain qualities or presences in their heart that are awkward, disturbing, and negative. One of your sacred duties is to exercise kindness toward them. In a sense, you are called to be a loving parent to your delinquent qualities. Your kindness will slowly poultice their negativity, alleviate their fear, and help them to see that your soul is a home where there is no judgment or febrile hunger for a fixed and limited identity."

How perfect is that? We all have those parts of us we struggle with. But if we understand that each has a positive role to play; if, instead of hiding them or battling with them, we acknowledge their innate goodness, and if, instead of mourning the holes in our heart we can instead see that those are the places where the divine light pours in, we can achieve that inner peace and touch into the ground of love.

Musing on this later during meditation, I found music from the Phantom of the Opera soaring into my inner ear, but the only lyric I could remember was "Say you love me." So when I came to my computer, I looked up the lyrics, and now I see that this song articulates those deep cries of the soul: both the longing of the damaged parts, and the tenderness of the one deep whole love that lies beneath.

"No more talk of darkness,
forget these wide-eyed fears;
I'm here, nothing can harm you,
my words will warm and calm you.
Let me be your freedom,
let daylight dry your tears;
I'm here, with you, beside you,
to guard you and to guide you.

Say you'll love me every waking moment;
turn my head with talk of summertime.
Say you need me with you now and always;
promise me that all you say is true,
that's all I ask of you.

Let me be your shelter,
let me be your light;
you're safe, no one will find you,
your fears are far behind you.

All I want is freedom,
a world with no more night;
and you, always beside me,
to hold me and to hide me.

Then say you'll share with me one love, one lifetime;
let me lead you from your solitude.
Say you need me with you, here beside you,
anywhere you go, let me go too,
that's all I ask of you.

Say you'll share with me one love, one lifetime.
Say the word and I will follow you.
Share each day with me, each night, each morning.
Say you love me ...
You know I do.

Love me, that's all I ask of you ...
Love me, that's all I ask of you."

To listen to the soaring music that accompanies these glorious lyrics, click here.

For more of John O'Donohue's wisdom, visit his website by clicking here.

I found the wonderful Buddha pictured here, so at peace with the hole in his heart, at DecorAsian in Boulder, CO. To see more of their beautiful Buddhas and other Asian artifacts , click here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Come see my post. We are SO in step today! *bg* I so love your depth, thank you for being such a great teacher!!!