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Entries in acceptance (2)


The Trouble with Honesty

I used to think all we had to do was be honest with each other, those of us doing this life together.  I didn't know then that it's damn near impossible.  We tango through our shared spaces, trying not to step on each others' toes.  Losing track of who's leading.  Clumsily getting off beat.

Sometimes when we say please pass the salt we mean I need you to hold me.

And sometimes I'll do the dishes comes when we are really trying to say all I want to do is cry.

Or can I have a some jelly beans? becomes go away, mom!

Sure, you can work late substitutes for when are you going to pay attention to meeeeeee?

We fall from our safe spaces.  We may hold in our fear and our pain and our primal screams, landing soundlessly.  We may not notice the bruises our friends and family parade through the living room, so busy are we with being nice.

These swallowed sighs, these polite interludes are not the same as dishonesty.  They're gifts of a sort, or they can be.  We absolve each other of the responsibility of holding space for our every neurosis or insecurity.  We say I can handle this one myself.

But lately I'm wondering if the challenge has more to do with mystery than honesty.  There's a way in which every single person I'm close to becomes more inscrutable the deeper we go.  I puzzle that we are all but unknowable to each other.  How could we be otherwise, when (I'm noticing) that we seem to be unknowable to ourselves as well? 

We move through life as we think we are supposed to be.  Or more to the point, we move through life as we think we really are, but below the surface subterranean rivers of emotion and pattern and pathology carve unseen canyons into our soul's terrain.  We navigate by instinct, without maps.  Occasionally we fall into deep holes we didn't even know were there.  It's hard to tango where the ground shifts beneath our feet.

In the face of uncharted land, honesty seems beside the point.  If we don't even know ourselves how can we blame our dearest ones for failing to understand us?  Instead of honesty, what if we put our emphasis on acceptance, good faith, and trust?


Hold The Space

Certain gifts are so much easier to give others than to give ourselves.

To be present.  To listen well.  To accept without judgement.

These are gifts I want to offer to the important people in my community and I hope that I succeed in that, at least sometimes.  But I am not in the practice of offering these to myself.  I am not in the practice of receiving them from myself.

I noticed this, as I sat in the dark with only the sounds of my breath and the the furnace cycling on to warm the house before daybreak.

It's hard, sometimes, to know how much space to take in the world.  I don't know if I've grown lately and am straining against the edges of a container that used to be comfortable.  Or maybe the shape has just shifted and the new corners are irritating me but I'll stop noticing as soon as I form new calluses.

In the dark I can't see where I end and the world begins.  An image of my internal space materializes in my mind, a cramped and partitioned apartment building with lots of doors and not enough light.  That's not how I want to look inside.  Internally I want to be a vast meadow where the breeze ripples tall grass and any sound could echo for miles. 


So far it's worth it, trading 30 minutes of sleep for quiet, dark wakefulness.  It feels like a gift to myself, holding the space for an endless landscape to unfurl inside me, where I can stretch out and breathe.