A friend of mine recently had a dream about me and was kind enough to jot it down in an email.
It went something like this. She and I are sitting high up on the rungs at the top of a tall, arching bridge. Somehow I have a shopping cart up there with me. In front of us there are the outer frame arches of the bridge, but no rungs joining the sides. I start making a motion like I am going to launch myself forward toward the big, empty part of the bridge. My friend says, “Have you got a plan to proceed?” I get irritated and say that of course I do. My friend says she totally feels for me given the frustration of what I’ve been through and having so many people giving me advice. I agree that it’s definitely been frustrating lately. Then I push the shopping cart away and it careens off the bridge, down the hill and smashes into something. I move boldly toward the open, unfinished expanse of the bridge.
My friend thought the dream might be about going forward despite not having all the support and structure in place. That certainly rings true just now.
However, the part that most caught my attention was the shopping cart. Shopping cart? On a bridge? Weird. Shopping, purchasing, buying …. then the question came to me: what am I buying into that I need to let go of in order to cross the bridge to the next amazing point on my my life’s journey?
What’s the crap in my cart that’s weighing me down, keeping me from moving forward, from soaring? I noodled on this question for several days, surfacing it during my meditations, mulling it while I ran, journaling about it.
As I recently wrote, I was nervous about launching this blog, nervous that I might be criticized for it. But as soon as it went live support flooded in. I received dozens of comments from readers and friends, all of them uber positive. And then, I got one nasty, critical comment. It stung for an hour and was front and center in my mind. Then, I shook my head, regained my sanity and asked myself, “Self, why aren’t you just as obsessed with all those positive responses? Why don’t they feel as important as that one critic’s opinion? Why are you giving that one mean comment the power to steal your peace?” And with that the sting was gone and I was back in balance.
We all get lots of judgements from others. Friends tell us what they think about our lovers or our clothes. Parents still caution and scold. Brothers give unsolicited advice. And oh my god the media and marketers tell us all kinds of things like we’re not thin enough or fit enough or rich enough or groomed enough. Some of this we pass by and some of it we take off the shelf and put into our shopping carts and buy it.
This past year I have had huge opportunity wrapped in excruciating challenge to face myself more honestly than ever before. It has been frightening and sometimes pretty embarrasing. And while some of the pieces might not be pretty, the whole, though flawed, is pretty awesome.
I have been and will continue, working, everyday, to upset my shopping cart and dump out the crap — the old patterns of not feeling good enough, the criticism, the self doubt. As I become more intentional about what I buy into, I more often remember that we are all utterly unique and precious expressions of creation, beautiful exactly as we are.
Writing this inspired me to revisit one of my favorite poems and I share it here.
by Oriah Mountain Dreamer
It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain. I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or you own, without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul; if you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see beauty, even when it’s not pretty, every day, and if you can source your life from its presence.
I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes!”
It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up, after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children.
It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know what sustains you, from the inside when all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in empty moments.
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