Notes on Courage
Inner work for outer action.
Yesterday, I guided a painting session with a group of high schoolers. About half-way through the workshop, one of the painters called me over and said that she was stuck. She told me that when I shared my story, it reminded her of her own loss in 2007. She felt inspired to paint about that loss and started her "dark" painting. As she told me more of her story, I observed the black at the top of her page gradually transition into beautiful shades of red and orange-- a sailor's delight surely around the corner.
I could see her delight in the vibrant hues she had started to use, and hear the pain and burden as she expressed concern about what she thought her painting was suppose to be-- dark, heavy, grief-stricken-- but wasn't any more. I asked her if it was possible for both to exist-- the darkness and the light. The guilt she was holding, just beneath the surface, was palpable. When wounds cut so deep that it feels like a betrayal to use vibrant colors in a painting, just imagine what it feels like to live a vibrant, colorful life?
I get it. There have been many steps on my journey that have felt like betrayals. Betrayals that I turned into obligations so I wouldn't feel so guilty.
Surviving felt like a betrayal. I'm alive and thirteen others aren't. I need to make my life worthy of the second chance. I need to prove to the Universe that I was worth keeping, in case there was some kind of mix-up on the way to the other side.
Healing felt like a betrayal. I'm getting better but others are still stuck. We're in this together, but I can't stay stuck. I can't keep reliving the pain, I need to transform the pain. Moving on is a betrayal to the pain and grief and loss, my own and others.
Creating courageous heARTS felt like a betrayal. I'm living my joy by using my deepest sadness and pain. I'm betraying the sadness, my own and others. I'm betraying the horrific tragedy by calling it a gift, by having the audacity to say I wouldn't want it any other way.
I know exactly what it feels like to feel the pull of the dark-- the obligation to it, the muted existence that it creates. I also know what it feels like to find the light-- to live in the vibrancy of the contrast and find joy again.
Recently, I had an Angel Reading with Laurel Bleadon-Maffei, and was reminded that my essence-- joyful and adventurous-- is meant to live a vibrant, colorful life. I was awakened to the fact that the only real betrayal is to live a muted existence-- holding on to the darkness out of obligation and guilt.
So I'm cashing in my gift... Life.
I'm done feeling bad about being alive. They wouldn't want me to- would never have ask me to. I did that to myself.
I'm ready to celebrate my life! (Whoa.)
I'm ready to breathe in deeply, with grateful awareness.
I'm ready to explore the big wide world and all it's vibrant colors.
I'm ready to giggle uncontrollably and feel the drunkenness of joy again.
I'm ready to live a magical, extraordinary existence.
I'm ready to pop the lid off what's possible and keep dreaming-- even bigger.
I'm cashing in, with utmost gratitude.
I'm ready to fly, anyway.
*Image adapted from Tony Webster: https://flic.kr/p/9WBhY5
About the blog:
This space holds thoughts and ideas generated from my personal journey of healing and recovery from trauma, co-dependency, and white supremacy culture. Opinions are entirely my own.