Last week I was invited to go to an outdoor performance called Art in the Dark. Tucked into a forested park and accompanied by breathtaking music, women (and a couple men) dangled from trees and danced magically in mid-air. I learned two life-affirming lessons: move with intention and trust thyself.
I was moved deeply by the experience on a variety of levels. At my core, I recognized how critical intentional physical movement is to a life worth living. Movement that infuses spirit and play, not just the churning of the body to burn calories or exercise the heart. Movement that mirrors fire, wind, water and Earth... movement that is in reverence to nature, love, spirit, Source... I now recognize the difference in moving to ward off death and moving to infuse life.
Watching two women navigating the small space of a silk-like, 8-inch wide strap all the while expanding into the vastness around them - I learned something about the nature of healthy relationships. A good relationship isn't merely about being able to trust other people not to betray/fail us.... a good relationship with others is undeniably contingent on our ability to trust ourselves. To catch ourselves if we begin to fall, to be strong and committed to the dance, not to be reliant on the other person to hold us up. While each woman certainly carried the bulk of the weight, twenty-feet in the air, at moments in the dance, there was never a lapse of self-reliance. There was never a moment when the person being held got too comfortable being taken care of. There was always a commitment to the relationship - to the dance. If either woman surrendered self-reliance and embraced self-doubt - they both would fall.
This was a profound realization for me. If we don't feel like we can rely on people in our lives, it is not a flaw of theirs, it is a reflection of ours. How we think of ourselves is how others will treat us. Integrity must be tended to daily, religiously if we are to cultivate relationships with people who do the same. People who will not get too comfortable when we dangle upside-down twenty-feet in the air, held by a string - holding them up by their toes.
As a "recovering co-dependent" I see how seeking my worth from others resulted in relationships with people who did not (could not) value me. It wasn't their job to make me feel safe, worthy, loved, etc. It is my responsibility to engage in practices and thinking that foster these attributes internally. My worth is my responsibility. By seeking others for affirmation of my value in the world is to betray myself. By feeling lovable and being self-reliant, I call into my life people who affirm those qualities. We are responsible for who we attract into our lives.
In recent years I have shifted my compass from external to internal. I decide my value and live from that place. No one else is accountable for my self-esteem, my happiness, or my sense of intrinsic worth. And the disharmonious moments that arise with people who are out of balance with me, I choose to get off that rope. Now, instead of giving people my trust and faith up front, I wait to see how committed they are to the dance. Do they practice every day? Do they display self-reliance? Do they seek the answers to their problems from the external or internal world? Would I trust them to hold me by my toes while I dangle upside-down twenty feet above the Earth? Do I trust them not to pull me down?
In a dance, like the magical metaphor of a-wol, it is clear that trust in others is secondary to trust in oneself. When people betray themselves, that they betray others regardless of how well-intended they might be. Good intentions are of little merit when self-reliance is absent.
I am committed, however difficult, to becoming self-reliant. I need to care more about what I think of myself than of what others think of me. I need to get comfortable with disappointing people - or, more truthfully - I need to get comfortable with my fear of disappointing people. We need to remember that most people are navigating the world through a heck of a lot of unresolved pain, therefore, their view of us inaccurate. We are not here to fix or heal others. Unless we are doctors - even then, it is a supportive role. We are not here to be fixed by others. We are here to establish our own integrity and uncover ourselves until we come to the place within that is free from fear.
These lessons are everyday. They do not wait for us to find a peaceful cabin on a quiet lake, where the chaos has ceased so we can finally reflect. In fact, the peace or chaos in our lives is a reflection of the peace or chaos we carry in our minds. My world as of late is chaotic and while I would love to be saved from it, there is no free pass in the classroom of life. There is no skipping a chapter, or avoiding the depth. Consciousness comes from the work, never from avoidance.
I write this post for myself. A reminder as I head into a new week that everything, EVERYTHING is a reflection of me on some level. Accepting this affords me the opportunity to make choices in moments of chaos and conflict rather than being reactive.
This week I will move my body in a reverent way and I will engage in self-loving, self-affirming practices. How about you?