Sunday, January 9, 2011

Poison as fuel

I’m not very far into the Welwood book, but twice now a phrase has leaped off the page and grabbed me, so I’m trying to pay attention. The first was this: “The key lies in regarding our personality structure, not as a problem or an enemy – something to fix, condemn, or eradicate – but rather as a stage of development that provides a stepping stone for further evolution.”

And the second was this “By learning to open to the poisons of the mind… we can unlock the vital energy contained in the poisons – energy that can help us maintain our connection with the earth, our passion, and everyday life.”

I’ve understood for a while now that when I encounter the darker aspects of my soul, I need to lean into them, not run away; to learn to love them rather than judging them – that in learning compassion for my own foibles I will become a more compassionate person overall.

But I’m not sure I understood – or perhaps I had forgotten – that those internal poisons can actually serve as fuel; can provide energy and passion for the journey, wherever it may lead. And as I think about this now, I realize this thought was beginning to surface last night.

As I stood at the gathering held at their home after the memorial service, observing Lou’s family and surroundings, I could see that he and his wife had created a loving environment where there was little pressure to conform but rather a genuine appreciation of individual strengths and differences. And as I thought about that I realized that despite our efforts to the contrary, in comparison both my husband and I are still relatively plagued by shoulds around appearances and conformity.

I’ve always admired my daughters and their friends (like the friend shown here, who chose this wonderful image for her senior portrait) for their willingness to be themselves; I like to think that openness is made possible to some extent by the unconditional love and acceptance we did our best to offer as they were growing up. But of course part of my admiration stems from my own reluctance or inability to be fully myself in ways that might invoke parental disapproval (despite the fact that my parents are long gone).

So to read now that personal issues around self-acceptance and self-worth could serve as fuel for change rather than as a constant insurmountable obstacle – could even be already serving as a fuel for creativity and gifts (and as I look at it more closely, I can see that’s actually true) – well, it gives me hope.

Hmm. Hope. Didn’t we hear that word yesterday as well? How encouraging! Stay tuned; perhaps there are more hopeful words and thoughts to come, and more energy to share…

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