Week 4, by Tammi Scott
Here we go!
Truth, self-development, and authenticity were the thread or themes running through this week’s readings. And while ‘The Inner Experience of Truth’ seemed to resonate the most with me, my feeling of the truth is so did ‘Life Marks Us Up’ and ‘Feelings Are Paints’. So I’m going to try and write about the accumulative resonance of them all.
Once again as I think about the trajectory of my own life since the Pandemic began literally 18 months ago, I am both dumbfounded and unsurprised to be here. I feel split, as opposed to full-on fractured, by my willingness to show up as authentically as I can to these spaces of community while simultaneously partaking of the hypnotic societal drug of “busyness” which also leaves me “distracted by the noise of the world- even hypnotized by it at times”. How does that work exactly?
I show up as a Zoom meeting host twice a week for sober support communities using the poetry and readings of many, including Mark Nepo to facilitate meaningful conversation, connection and truth for hundreds of sober people. I am a sober mentor for one woman and have a sober mentor for myself, both of whom I meet with weekly. I see a therapist and a coach regularly as well. All of these spaces and places I show up with authenticity and heart. In those moments.
But I also work a full-time day job that sucks the energy and life out of me most days. Plus I have this annoying, self-defeating habit of signing up for online training, retreats, workshops, and book clubs that keep me so busy that I rarely have time for the stillness and inward contemplation Mark speaks of as crucial to the life of expression. I’ve been going at this pace, vacillating between hyper busy with my hair on fire and being a depleted slug smashed against the wall of exhaustion and stress. It’s been one or the other with all of the attendant emotions and mental insanity that come with it. As you can imagine, it also left me with little time for the kind of sustaining self-care I need to truly replenish and connect with myself.
As Mark says in The Inner Experience of Truth, “Listening, expressing, and writing are conscious ways to clear ourselves out and to extend and expose the range of what we feel”. There was little to no capacity to achieve any of that with the way I was living. A consistent pattern of avoidant behavior that led me to abandon myself over and over again! He’s also right that “uttering my truth or questioning it does turn on an electricity that “connects me to that immeasurable vastness so close but always out of view”. (paraphrasing here) But I feel the clarity of his truth that is my truth too.
Fortunately, just before this book club started I took a hard look at my schedule of insanity and made some necessary and healthy choices to eliminate, postpone and cut back the larger demands on my time/energy. This has given me some unfamiliar breathing room, space and time. With that has come the needed quiet, stillness, and presence with myself that had been lacking. Having this is why ‘Life Marks Us Up’ resonated with me. The whole passage seemed to shed a light on how little time I allow myself to develop and integrate what I gained from training, retreats and workshops. His accurate metaphor for this is “Unpacking what we’ve been through in the solitude of our reflection-this is our darkroom.” And again plainly stating, “Despite the speed or courage, we need to take experience into our heart and wait for the images of life to show themselves, all of which takes time.”
I’m going to attempt to say the “unsayable” about how ‘Feelings Are Paints’ struck me. The message in his reverent and detailed emphasis of the materials used in Dario Robleto’s piece A Defeated Soldier Wishes to Walk HIs Daughter Down the Wedding Aisle (2004) speaks to how deeply he respects the artist’s commitment to his vision of his art. For me I saw that as the artist staying with what he knew to be true and would work for his art. He did not abandon himself or his vision for his art. Authenticity in it’s distilled form!
These words of Nepo’s in particular have burrowed into my heart, “So whatever your gift, I urge you to be yourself so you can open up a heart space for the people you are privileged to journey with, whether they are surviving the death of a loved one, or are social workers or grief counselors or a convention of mayors. Offer yourself out of the work you’ve already done in becoming who you are, and give of yourself from there.” I have tears in my eyes as I feel the truth of that echo within me. Because I see now that the drug of “busyness” was also an overly insecure effort to attain credentialing or certification to help me offer my gift to the world. When it’s clear from all I’ve read here this week that I just need to develop the truth and authenticity already inside of me.
What struck you about this week’s reading?
Save the date
What: Mid-way Zoom meeting
When: Sunday, October 24 at 1 pt/3 ct/4 et
Zoom link will be emailed to you ahead of time. Reminder: there will be no reading assignment or post for the week of Oct. 21 so you can spend some time that week thinking about what you’d like to discuss on the Zoom.
The duration of the zoom is dependent on the conversation, but you should feel free to hop off when necessary.
Schedule to date:
- Week #5 <<<Break>>> No post. A chance to pause, breathe, and catch up, Sept. 30
- Week #6 The Energy of Hope through Love at First Sight, Kim Prendergast, Oct. 7
- Week #7 Living a Making through Drifting in Immensity, Joan Sherwood, Oct. 14
- Week #8 <<<Break>>> pause to prepare for Zoom discussion, Oct. 21
A link will remain here to week 1 in case anyone wants to review the spearheading guidance. Week 1.
Joan’s collage image!