The innocent mistake

image“The innocent mistake that keeps us caught in our own particular style of ignorance, unkindness, and shut-downness is that we are never encouraged to see clearly what is, with gentleness. Instead, there’s a kind of basic misunderstanding that we should try to be better than we already are, that we should try to improve ourselves, that we should try to get away from painful things, and that if we could just learn how to get away from the painful things, then we would be happy.”

Which is ridiculous but also completely true: we are constantly in pursuit of something better, something improved; a more functional, successful self. And it is this pursuit, this searching, this dissatisfaction with what we have, that leads to our dishonouring and devaluing, often destroying, the beauty and value that exists quite naturally of its own accord in the centre of every single one of us.

Instead of waiting for our potential to bud – watering, nourishing, providing sustenance to what lies below; simultaneously pruning and weeding, irrigating the surrounding terrain, the soil in which we, grown, must then further grow – we ought to be celebrating every dent and chip, cheering each knot and tangle; attempting, in our own clumsy way, to tell our innermost most authentic selves that it is ok to be broken and slightly bent and that, contrary to popular opinion (which, in my opinion is all poppycock anyway) it’s the bits that stand out, the bits that dare, that are the diamonds in the otherwise unastounding us.

Whoever said ‘normal’ was something to aspire to, that we should endeavour to fit in and try hard not to stick out, was a prize idiot, a right twat. It would be a very bland world if we all matched, appearing replicas, twins… There would be no art, literature, innovation or culture, no technological advancement or sport. Identical, capable of the exact same things, we would have nothing to aspire to and nothing to prove. There would be no point in trying to do because nothing we did would be any different to what has already been. The beauty of being ‘human’, of being ‘flawed’, is that it is our ‘humanness’ and our dysfunction that make us who we are and which both motivate and inspire us towards truly exceptional things.

“Meditation is about seeing clearly the body that we have, the mind that we have, the domestic situation that we have, the job that we have, and the people who are in our lives. It’s about seeing how we react to all these things. It’s seeing our emotions and thoughts just as they are right now, in this very moment, in this very room, on this very seat. It’s about not trying to make them go away, not trying to become better than we are, but just seeing clearly with precision and gentleness.”

And so I study hard. I seek with the desire to find. And I go out and explore, learning, learning, learning… And through doing these things: pushing myself into new corners, travelling down new roads.., I begin to discover, not just the world, London, what it has to offer that perhaps other places don’t, but also other people pursuing similar themes.

Attracting conversation on the tube, the bus; stopping to talk in cafés and shops; joining and attending classes, groups: I begin to unpack, relieving the suitcase of redundant bits.

The load lightens. The spirit lifts. There are significant shifts. I can accept that as well as half empty: the glass can also be half full. And rain, although hostile, aggressive, a pain, does not necessarily suggest disaster; just as sunshine, benign, does not guarantee smiles. People surprise. Situations impress. My cave grows. Managing, navigating, making it up, resolving and problem-solving as I go, I surprise myself: for as well as hate, there is love.

“The problem is that the desire to change is fundamentally a form of aggression toward yourself. The other problem is that our hangups, unfortunately or fortunately, contain our wealth. Our neurosis and our wisdom are made out of the same material. If you throw out your neurosis, you also throw out your wisdom.” Pema Chödrön

In other words: there is a baby in that bath water; have care.

Be soft. Be kind. Be both a mother and a friend. Greet yourself as well as your nearest and dearest each morning when you wake.

Ask yourself what you need and listen to the answer, for it is in that reply that you will find the seed.

Tread carefully but tread with confidence and belief, both of self and other.

Never lose faith or heart.

You are special and you deserve to be loved. Celebrate the birth and the life of yourself.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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