Tuesday, 25 August 2015
I Can't Keep Myself Safe
August is leaving me. Not with the richness of bright gold wheat fields, the ones of my childhood. Not with the dense late summer heat and shimmering dry dust of prairie roads at summer's end. Not with deep...unbelievably deep...low blue skies that hang over everything green and golden and already aching with nostalgia.
Instead it is battering my windows and doors. Bruising the hollyhocks in my garden. Sending everything running for cover. Black skies and pelting rain, that sort that looks like it would hurt bare skin upon contact. While I prefer sunshine, another, more honest part of me perhaps, doesn't mind. Relishes violence and unpredictability in nature.
It's strange, isn't it? It's hard to understand. To know sometimes. Beyond a doubt, without question, that life...this life...is a blessing, a gift, an undefinable thing. And we're often hopeless at it.
When I sit on a sun warmed rock on a cool fall day staring at the sea, feeling the noise of it pounding in my ears. Chaos echoing chaos. Chaos calming chaos. I know. I want to see the waves break against the rocks, I want to witness more power, and at the core of me, I want to see some sort of glorious unimaginable destruction. It would please me...it would answer some sort of obscure question in me to see it all fall to pieces. It would help me know that things can break outside myself too. And this great hope. This great great great hope is that somehow, I wouldn't be hopeless at living.
These questions are my constant, life-long companions: what am I growing toward? Who am I becoming?
They are positive, strength infusing things. They keep me from running in circles, from stagnation, from feeling hopeless.
I want to strip away the useless, the negative, the fear and dishonesty in my life. I want grand adventures and difficult pilgrimages. I want to break apart and be forged back together with gold.
I think how it would be so much easier to physically set out on a spiritual journey. To visit a place of solitude and reflection. To take up a backpack and make a difficult pilgrimage across narrow mountain roads. To be taught. To pray and meditate and focus. To go away and come back changed.
It's harder to change in a familiar place. It takes discipline to get out of your own bed each morning and think "Today I am going to learn and grow. Right here where I am. Because this is the option I have open to me right now." Examining the soul is always challenging and often unsettling. It can certainly be unpleasant at times. The alternative is to go though life blindly, always distracted, never achieving awareness or questioning yourself. Never growing. (I believe there are people who go through their lives never growing or stretching themselves.)
This morning I read the words "tranquility and order" and it put me in mind of how our longings so often conflict. On the surface at least. I pray for lives of "tranquility and order" for our family and especially for my sons as they grow. I desire it for myself. Yet I also fight hard against settling mindlessly for a socially acceptable way of living, fight against conforming for the sake of peace. At the same time as I desire tranquility, order and peace, I desire newness, healthy destruction of concepts and ideas that are not life giving yet are often unchallenged. I need a certain sort of challenge. I need some fire and I always crave change.
In the end, I don't believe these things do contradict each other. There is no tranquility in settling or never being challenged. There is no peace in giving in or up. There is no peace in agreeing with others under the false impression that agree-ability and niceness will safeguard ones peace. There is no peace in quietly shutting the door on yourself, deciding no one will ever really see you, your heart, your passions, your fears. There is no order in remaining safe out of fear of change.
There is no safety period.
I can't keep myself safe.
By conforming. By fitting in. By avoiding conflict. By telling white lies. By being "nice" (such a bland word).
And because I can't possibly keep myself safe, I must take greater risks. I don't mean jumping off cliffs or running through traffic hoping I don't get hit. The risks I mean are far greater.. I must risk being honest, must risk, not changing myself, but becoming myself fully.
At the core of myself, I know who I am. I am worth the risks I'll take.