Rilke wrote: “I want to unfold. I don’t want to stay folded anywhere, because where I am folded, there I am a lie.” We got folded by trying as hard as we could to make everyone happy, to please everyone, and to fill every moment with productivity. Our grown-ups said this would bring satisfaction, and they would like us more. But we also learned to sabotage ourselves so they wouldn’t feel eclipsed. High achievement made the family look good, but also seemed to be another nail in Dad’s coffin. We agreed to get folded at school and in jobs, to get ahead, shine the family star. We got folded and fooled into airless states of accomplishment, estrangement from ourselves, squandering our very short lives. Then we folded ourselves so we wouldn’t annoy or embarrass our kids.
Self-importance fueled by performance anxiety, people-pleasing, sloth, and bad self-esteem, wrapped us into small crips squares like professionally laundered shirts.
When other people look hunched or pummeled, I know what to do and say, to help them recolonzie their bodies and lives. I say: Stop the train. Be where our butt is. Maybe shift from foot to foot, as in chanting kirtan, or swaying a baby to sleep, because ritualized shifting keeps you a little shaken up- good shaken, unstuck. I would say; Life can be painful, but I am right here, and you have a good heart. This heart is who you are, not your bad mind.
But this unfolding could mean we miss deadlines, by days or decades, ending our careers and harming our standing. Our parents bit the bullet, stayed in bad marriages, kept jobs they hated. That is the American way.
The path away from judgment of self and neighbor requires major mercy, both giving and, horribly, receiving. Going without either of them leads to fundamentalism of all stripes, and fundamentalism is the ban of poor Mother Earth. Going without engenders blame, which offers its own solace but traps us like foxes. Then the only way out of jail is forgiveness.
There should be an app, with a checklist or map. But no, the way out takes admitting that you’re wrong and sorry. No, no anything but that. Forgiving people makes you weak. We avail ourselves through failure, service, singing, silence, neighbors, sorrow.
One has to be done with the pretense of being just fine, unscarred, perfectly self-sufficient. No one is.
I can’t be there really…in those places I think I ought to be…
inquiry for today~ this freedom is so elusive….now what?
When the True Self breaks through, a new and impassioned approach to life often makes itself known. We tap into an inner radiance that I call delight. I’m speaking of a unique kind of response to life that can coexist with our most painful realities. I’m speaking of the joy of saying yes to life in the core of our being. I believe that the capacity to delight in life is deeply carved by our waiting.
Delight can become a way of life, a way of journeying. There’s a saying,, “Religion is not to be believed, but danced.” I like this idea, as it shifts the emphasis from our endless pursuit of religious knowledge back to the dimension of living our religion in such a way that it becomes a dance, a celebration in which we open our arms and say yes to life.
~Sue Monk Kidd