let the world pour in

It's been a few weeks since I've given much attention to meditating, to sitting in the quiet and opening my heart. This afternoon, I realized I hadn't read today's message from The Book of Awakening. When I read, I read with a pen, in case I want to underline an important excerpt or come back to a particular passage. Many times during my readings I feel as though I could underline the entirety of the message. I felt that today when Nepo explains the ways that talking a lot can keep others at a safe distance. I may have mentioned this before, but a friend once told me that I could talk forever and never give anything away, never say anything. In the South, the making of a good storyteller is knowing exactly when to give yourself away, at least that is what I learned from the women in my family. I was always scared to offer too much of myself even though, as Nepo suggests, the constant conversation is a way to throw our hearts out there so that we feel less alone and more connected. However, all that talk is unnecessary. All we have to do is keep ourselves open, be who we are and the world will rush in.

For so long, that is precisely what I was afraid of. I can see it my poetry from the past, in the yearning and sadness present in my words then. And now, it's all I can think about, how to stay open and present and authentic, especially when so much is going on in other areas of my life that seem very much the opposite. Last week was terribly overwhelming. I fell behind in almost everything. I was forgetful and terse and came down with an awful migraine. The weekend was much better. This week I leave for a conference in Atlanta with a presentation I'm really excited about and a nice break from the hectic schedule I've been on. I'm determined to arrive openhearted and let the world fill me up.

the friction of being visible

When I was about 10, one of my friends got a trampoline for Christmas. We spent days jumping and flipping in the air and nights looking up at the stars from her backyard. One hot summer afternoon there were several of us doing flips, jumping to try and get really high up in the air. During one of these jumps I decided to do a flip and when I did I was much too far in the air to properly judge my landing point and I landed, hard on the ground with the air completely knocked out of me. It was a painful and terrifying moment, laying there gasping for air, embarrassed and hurt. Everyone rushed to me, asking if I were okay; no one laughed but were instead concerned for my well being and somber for their own complicity in the act.

This moment, which I've been thinking about for days, has much to say about a situation with which I'm struggling right now. I've had the wind knocked out of me on an emotional level. I am affected by what others say and think about me, particularly when it comes to my work. Professionally, I'm in a space where there's a lot of pressure to do better, to work faster, to quantify success in particular terms. I fear I am jumping too high without a point of reference. I am deeply afraid that I will fail, which stifles me, constricts me and quite frankly makes me want to run in the other direction as quickly as I can. This is difficult for me and often I feel like I'm flailing, pushing me even lower. I am facing some hard truths and trying to figure out what to do next. It is in this space that I feel the least centered, the least open, and the most afraid. But, I am strong and determined.

I'm currently reading The Book of Awakening and the past two days readings have been the exact thing(s) on which I needed to reflect. Yesterday's reading was about being yourself, your true to the core self, about cherishing the people in your life who praise and celebrate and equally cherish you for all of the things that make you, you. (I think my grateful list does this quite well). Today's focused on what Mark Nepo calls "the friction of being visible," which is a concept I absolutely love and with which I absolutely identify. Nepo says that when you are yourself, conflicts are to be expected; discord is inevitable.

Think about that for a moment; really think about the power in what Nepo is saying. No matter what you do, you will not avoid conflict and if you are avoiding conflict, well, then you're not really being yourself. Instead, you are silencing parts of who you are or changing them to make other people comfortable.He urges us not to "accommodate [our] truth[s] away." Nepo suggests the cost of being yourself is that not everyone's expectations will be met but the cost of not being yourself leads to internal conflict--"the friction of being invisible."

2011 is a year I have set an intention to thrive. When I first talked about my word I said the following:

For 2011, I want to be seen more fully. I want to say more publicly, feel like I'm out in the world, doing things that matter. I want to publish more, embrace my geekiness, be more vocal, step into the classroom more authoritatively. I want to flourish and grow. I want, quite simply, to thrive.

In order to be seen, I need to embrace the fact that I must face "the friction of being visible." 3 years ago, I would not have even taken a breath; I would have charged headlong into what I wanted to and those in my way be damned. I've written at length about losing my muchness. I don't know exactly how it happened. What I do know is that I can't take it anymore. It's like I have a split personality, one of me is scared and insecure and incredibly unsure and unable to accomplish things. The other part of me is fierce and determined and interested in pushing boundaries and upturning expectations and taking risks. There is indeed, the friction between the two of being invisible because I have accommodated the truth of who I am for someone else's comfort.

No longer.

Nepo began the insight for today with this quote, which I will place somewhere prominent as a reminder:

It is only by risking ourselves
from one hour to another
that we live at all.
~ William James

Are you risking yourself? What holds you back? How do you embrace the friction of being visible?