The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo. I read this book daily for its inspiration. And very often a passage will move me and touch on a moment in my life, past or present, or perhaps something I see in the future.
But today, February 7th, 2012, that large gentle hand from above rested upon my head once again. This is not the only time since his passing where I have embraced knowledge and wisdom and realization and ultimately courage, where from my usual calmness ignites a fierce defense for the love of my father, my huge compassion, my steadfast morals, against a few who do not understand. As you know, my Mom and Dad have both passed on, but I know I am not alone. You just know. You just feel they are there to catch you fall.
When I began reading and started with the quote about Atlas, there was immediate mirror to my feelings I hold at this point in time in my life. As I proceeded to read the entire passage for today, never has one of Mark Nepo’s daily inspirations met my heart more than this one.
As I stand tall on my mountaintop with angel wings, I will visit this particular daily passage as I feel the need. I will remind myself why I never let you fall.
George Rivelle 1929-2011
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The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo
February 7 ~ A Legacy of Sadness
Atlas wasn’t forced to hold up the world. He was convinced that if he didn’t, the world would fall.
Many of us are raised by well-intending parents to be the carriers of their sadness. Often the one child who is softer than the rest, who is more sensitive than the family is used to, is the one selected to deal with what no one else will deal with. It is an odd fate.
I was one of those children. I was often called too sensitive, too emotional, too day-dreamy. But as I grew older, as life visited us with the hardships that life inevitably brings to all families, it was I who was needed to carry the burden of my family’s inability to feel. Without having my capacity to feel ever valued or acknowledged, I was the one to shoulder the family sadness with the brunt of my heart.
I have come to understand that there is a huge difference between sharing someone’s pain and bearing it. Too many times, those in pain use the concern of loved ones as a way to ground what they don’t want to feel themselves. The way electricity runs off into the ground during a storm, they mistakenly use others to run their sadness and pain into the ground of those who care. Too often, we want others to hold our sadness or pain because we won’t take the risk to ask them to hold us while we are hurting.
As an adult trying to be my own person, understanding which feelings are genuinely mine and which are those I have inherited is often confusing. People like me, and maybe you identify, so let me say people like us, frequently feel responsible for the emotional condition of others.
It is delicate and never-ending work, this sorting of what is truly ours and what is not. When unable to stay within ourselves, we become codependent, never feeling at peace until the emotions of everyone around us are managed and tended–not so much out of compassion, but as the only way to quiet our anxious burden as carriers of sadness. Or when rebounding the other way, we can isolate, becoming not only dispassionate to others, but also numb to ourselves.
The work becomes that of making an accurate inlet of the heart without closing off to the feelings of others or to the depth of things that are ours to feel. Though some of us were trained to carry the sadness and pain of others, the fiber of the one heart we were given is strong and light enough by itself to bring us to the wind that is whispering, Let down, let go, the world will carry you.
~ If you are a parent, think of how you share your feelings with your child. If you have a lover, think of how you share your feelings in that love. If you have a close friend, think of how you share your feelings in that friendship.
~ Meditate on the last time you shared a sadness or a pain with this special person.
~ Through this example, look honestly at how you share such things and see if you try to transfer or unload your sadness or pain or if you simply give voice to what troubles you.
~ If you can, recall your mood as you shared. Did you want the relief of surfacing what was building inside? Or did you want your loved one to make you feel better? Did you feel closer to yourself after sharing or more distant?
~ If you think you have given them what’s yours to carry, go to them and thank them for holding your sadness. Lift it off their hearts and take it back. Ask them to hold you instead.
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Thank you, Mark, for that. ~ k