Yesterday in the midst of a workshop I was co-facilitating with my friend Elaine Silver called Follow Your Passion, Be Your Bliss, one of the participants commented that recently she found herself in ‘the void’. She described it as frustrating since the projects and ventures she attempted to create, seemed like they were going nowhere. I could empathize, since there have been times in my life during which I perceived that I was spinning my wheels. For many, the void is a frightening place to be, if they believe they will never move past it. Fortunately, that has never been the case here, since my ‘inner Annie’ bursts forth in song with knowing “The sun’ll come out tomorrow….” Several years ago, I had an experience of being in that shadowy place, scrambling to fill time with activity, afraid of ‘the nothing’ that I mistakenly believed would just swallow me up if given the chance to sink its sticky talons into me. I developed laryngitis and bronchitis, partly attributable to my unwillingness to speak my truth in an unpleasant situation. As a result, I was required to be silent to heal my voice. This in and of itself terrified me because I am a communicator by nature and profession. My vocal chords did eventually heal and I was able to ‘come clean’ with the person around whom this ‘truth telling’ was necessary in order to maintain a friendship.
I shared with the workshop participant that my ‘void’ sometimes felt like the song lyrics of the David Bowie song Space Oddity where I felt as if I wasn’t tethered to the Mother Ship and was going to disappear into the inky black vastness of the cosmos.
“This is major Tom to ground control, I’m stepping through the door
And I’m floating in a most peculiar way
And the stars look very different today
Here am I sitting in a tin can far above the world
Planet Earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do”
What I have since discovered is that ‘the void’ can be a fertile place in which the seeds I have been planting, have the necessary warmth, moistness and darkness in which they can take root and grow, just as plants do in the winter. Following some of my most internal moments, I have emerged with treasures I would not have found otherwise, since I would have been so busy doing that I had neglected to simply BE. Can we be absolutely certain of the outcome when we enter or leave the void? I don’t think so. What I do know is that each time I have ventured inward, whether by conscious choice or happenstance, I have been grateful for the lessons that tagged along with me.
http://youtu.be/83P_oay3Bzo Uncertainty Minutes by Kim Revival
I love to dance. Ever since I could shuffle my feet, tap or wiggle my toes, music moved me. I grew up in a home in which my parents danced in the kitchen, which was one way that they showed playful affection. As I little girl, I would be Daddy’s dance partner by standing on his feet as we would sorta glide across the floor. Keep in mind that neither of us was smooth or adept at it, but what we lacked in talent, we made up for in enthusiasm. That is still the case, as every time I have attempted to learn formal dance steps, including Cajun and Zydeco, Contra and Ballroom, I have ended up stepping on unsuspecting toes. I am a much more comfortable and confident improv dancer. A few belly dancing lessons helped too. When my cousin Jody and I lived together in our 20’s, we used to do what we called nightgown dances in the living room. This past weekend while at a Counting Crows concert, my friends Janet, Gary and I danced our hearts out with kids young enough to be our own and had a blast. I think that dancing keeps us (all in our 50’s) youthful.
A friend sent me this video featuring Matt (he of “Where the hell is Matt?) dancing with people from all over the world. What I was struck by as I watched with delight, was that no matter where on the planet folks hailed from, they danced with abandon. Some steps were more formal and structured, while others were free form. What if, instead of fighting, conflicted world leaders could meet on a dance floor and turn on multi-cultural music and just close their eyes and be ‘danced’? It’s hard to be contemplating Weapons of Mass Destruction when you’re shakin’ your tush or wiggling your hips. I dare you to do it now…find some music that beckons you to immerse yourself in it. Close your eyes and imagine a huge dance floor with room to really move about it. Then, choose either to dance like no one is watching or like everyone is watching. Can you lose your self conscious awareness in favor of just being worked by the music?
If not yet, let this video inspire you too.
What comes to mind when you see or hear the word ‘teacher’? Likely an image of someone standing in front of a chalkboard if you are of my generation, or a whiteboard with a marker if you are under 20. This person is imparting information that you may think or have thought “I’ll never use that.”. If your association with school was a negative one, you may even groan internally and your stomach might clench up. If like me, your connection with school was mostly positive (with one glaring exception of a math teacher who told us that if we didn’t understand the concepts he was presenting, we must be stupid and on some level I believed him since from them on, my math grades took a tumble), then you may be smiling on the inside and outside. My favorite teacher was Richard Serfling who in 6th grade, imparted both information and wisdom. His playful, outside the box thinking and teaching style led the way to my becoming a professional writer and induced further love of learning. He would fall into that category that Robert Frost referred to as an awakener. I would imagine that if I polled my classmates, they might say the same thing about him. I will have that opportunity to do that on October 6th when we have our (holy moley, Batman!) 35th high school reunion.
Over the years, I have had many formal and informal teachers; having gone through college, grad school and seminary as well as attending so many personal growth workshops and trainings that I have lost count. Each one sprinkled their own version of ‘truth’. The messages that stood out most profoundly were those that were empowering, setting the stage for even more growth. They were living examples of the guidance they offered. Goosebumps are my ‘truth barometer’ and were activated when many spoke. Some left me flat and I took what they offered with a huge grain of salt. Practical experience trumps all the data in the world and I would much prefer to learn from someone who has been there, done that, got the t-shirt.
I find myself in that position now, being looked at as someone who has ‘earned my chops’ and has something to say. I look at my life as an example, rather than just my words. Do I practice what I preach? Most of the time. Am I a work in progress? Absolutely, as I stumble over my well intentioned actions on occasion. Do I learn from the people and experiences around me and see them as my teachers too? Always. My intention is rouse folks out of their sleep of forgetfulness and remind them that they are Divinely Human and Humanly Divine, that they are love incarnate, that they are here to shine their light in the darkened places, that they are living examples of goodness and compassion. Is there a higher calling than that?
I think of the quote by the Buddha which speaks so profoundly to this concept:
When the Buddha started to wander around India shortly after his enlightenment, he encountered several men who recognized him to be a very extraordinary being. They asked him: “Are you a god?” “No,” he replied. “Are you a reincarnation of god?” “No,” he replied.”Are you a wizard, then?” “No.” “Well, are you a man?” “No.” “So what are you?” They asked, being very perplexed. Buddha simply replied: “I am awake.” Buddha means “the awakened one.” How to awaken is all he taught.
http://youtu.be/NXtQ_ck5ZtE We Are Awakening – Deva Premal, Miten and Manose