Another example of this is showing compassion to yourself, by being present to how you feel, who you are, what you need. So often we push ourselves aside with our to-do lists, and we cover up what's going on inside with lots of activity outside. There is no presence, only absence, which means there is no compassion, only harshness or indifference.
My Buddhist teacher used to ask me, "Why are you killing yourself?" I didn't understand that for a long time, though it felt true, even when I didn't know why. At the same time, when I would talk about being angry or irritated with someone, or even happy, she would ask me how that felt in my body. In frustration I finally snapped at her that my body and I hadn't been on speaking terms for years. I was so unable to be present with myself, physically and emotionally, that she saw it as a form of killing or smothering myself. It took me a long time to see that, and even longer to find compassion for myself.
Compassion is presence. Can I embody that in my writing? That question leads to other questions, and in the end, the one question that really matters is: am I willing to try? It requires both courage and openness, and I will admit I've never seen myself as particularly heroic. In one sense, we are all heroes as we move through our day, present to the world around us and within us. Thanks for your compassion and presence.
I'll be away for the holidays, so the next new blog will be Tuesday, January 2nd. Have a great holiday!
That depth and breadth of mind that I loved in Barack Obama is what I glimpsed in Cory Booker at the DNC last year. It has nothing to do with the color of one's skin. It has everything to do with who they are as human beings, and how they articulate their beliefs and their vision.
I'm only on page 47, and already I've highlighted a number of things that resonate for me, not so much on a political level as on a human level. This is the passage that is reverberating through me these days, and it's a paraphrasing of what his mother said to him:
...the world needs the full measure of your faith, your courage, your boldest thoughts, your most inspiring dreams.
Right in the center of that you'll find the word "courage."
This is the time of year when we often take stock of ourselves, and start thinking about what we'll do different in the new year. When I read those words, I find myself feeling the need to reboot as a writer. What that will mean for me, I don't know. What I do know is that courage will be the essential ingredient in the mix.
I also ran across a journal I kept for a class when I was at Naropa, in which I shared this: I found that a lot of anger has come up...In talking with my teacher, she suggested I try not to identify it or fix it, but just to be with it when it comes up, and let my body work with it and through it. That, of course, is very uncomfortable...
It seems that we are required to bear witness to much that feels unbearable. And there are, in fact, times when we must try to fix things in our world, and participate rather that simply observe. But in the times when we can do nothing except be present or turn away, we need to be present. It's like going to a funeral and feeling unable to find anything to say. The words don't matter. Our wordless presence says it all - we are willing to be there to support someone we care about. That is love.
Wednesday, December 6 update: I heard from my friend, who along with her partner and animals was evacuated yesterday. They are safe, though the fire line is approximately a mile from their home and the fire is 0% contained as of this morning. The winds have died down overnight, but are expected to increase again. Yesterday, according to one news source, the fire burned at an acre a second, the equivalent of Central Park in New York being consumed in 15 minutes.
Carol (Doc) Dougherty
An avid reader, writer, and student, with a penchant for horse racing, Shakespeare, and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Wake Up and Write Writer's Retreat Workshop