Programming Note: Much to tend to this week so I’ll be speaking to Human in Recovery‘s nomination of dan4kent for the Liebster Award at the conclusion of today’s program. Thank you both to Kina and her readers.
Sometimes letting things go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on.
Have you ever heard a song on the radio you’ve heard a thousand times before and suddenly it hits you like the very first time? ‘Oh turn it up. I love this song’. And even though you mysteriously know all the words as you sing along, the lyrics have a sudden new relevance that wasn’t there before.
It happened to me the other day as I was tooling down a county highway on a scorching afternoon. As has been the case across so much of the country, it was hot…stupid hot. But the car’s air conditioning was creating a cool cocoon as I traveled, listening to some good oldies on WLS-FM (Chicago).
Pulling up to a stop sign, I heard the DJ announce the next track and there they were, The Beatles, in the back seat of my car, singing Let it Be. Granted the back seat was a little tight for all four of them, but it didn’t deter the Fab Four one little bit as Paul McCartney crooned: “When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me speaking words of wisdom, let it be”.
That’s when it hit me. Going out to our porch early every morning for my ‘focus time’, I had noted the longer our drought had dragged on, the more our porch tree was letting its leaves curl and drop. Why that thought came my way as the Beatles sang? I don’t know. Then I wondered if the tree had an emotional attachment to the crackly leaves now gathered in a yellowed carpet beneath her? Whether it did or not, the point was Nature had equipped Mother Tree with the sense of what she had to do in the face of the severe conditions – let them go.
Still puzzling over my odd combination of non-linear thoughts, another song came across the radio. This time it was Kenny Rogers calling ‘shot gun’. Now riding in my passenger seat, he began singing The Gambler, “…You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em. Know when to walk away and know when to run”.
Could this be the country music equivalent to what John, Paul, George and Ringo had been trying to tell me? Maybe they all knew my tree…but when would they have met? Even I (being used to me) began to wonder if I was in the early stages of heat exhaustion…like I said, it was a very strange day.
KNOW WHEN TO HOLD ‘EM: Maybe like you, much of my early life was spent believing all the messaging coming at me from those in my life. Sadly, I’ve since come to find out they had their own motives which had very little to do with my welfare. But I didn’t know it (then). We all have our ‘something’, but the point is, early on I had adapted to my environment by engaging in emotional self-flagellation as if it were some manner of imagined negotiation that would allow me to ‘stay in the herd’. I’d been seduced into thinking that no accomplishment, no victory, no trophy was ever going to be big or bright enough to compensate for my ‘badness’. Even then, down deep, I was afraid if my people knew the ‘real me’, I’d be out in the cold and on my own. While it may have been a convoluted twist of cultic logic, me not having any regard for myself was the ‘natural’ extension of me having believed every single bit of vitriol I’d ever been fed by those who said they loved me. “But you’re gay…” (Family Card revoked) “Either pray harder, get right with God or just get on with it and die. You’re going to burn in Hell anyway.” And yet I loved my family. I had my parents up on pedestals. I wanted them to be proud I was their first-born son. That’s good, right?
KNOW WHEN TO FOLD ‘EM: As some of you already know, all that changed the moment my son was placed into my arms, still wet and bloody from the womb. I’d never seen anything that beautiful in all my life. As I cut his umbilical cord, I truly had, for the first time, a transitory glimpse of what God’s love looks like and it wasn’t what I’d known growing up. That little baby was perfect as I had been when the wet baby had been me. What’s wrong with this picture?
The Shakespearean irony was in the very next moment, I knew (in a thunderous blinding flash) that there was no way to reconcile who I was created to be with the rigid uncompromising form of religion I’d been raised on (and since embraced fully as my own). In that single crowning moment of Love held incarnate in my arms, I knew I was going to lose everything – my son, my wife, my family, my house and every friend I’d ever had. Everything I’d been told about what mattered was about to be taken away if I didn’t conform to the lyric they’d written for me. It was all sinking beneath the waves and it wasn’t what I wanted. If there had been any middle ground, I’d have found it. But in that day, time and place, middle ground did not exist. It simply wasn’t there. Go fish.
KNOW WHEN TO WALK AWAY: As costly as becoming authentic was going to be, I was lucky. In finding the true love of my life, I began to see through the fog. I began to realize that nearly every negative and ignorant sound byte I’d ever absorbed about myself growing up wasn’t mine. But there’s more. Now being truly loved, I started seeing all the cracks; that all the hatred I’d ever picked up and turned on myself for years, was counterfeit. God hadn’t made a mistake. I had.
The family that had raised me wasn’t going to change their mind. I was square in the cross-hairs of the shunning and no manner of penance was going to settle the tab of ‘the shame’ I’d visited on their House. While I catch myself saying I walked away, the truth is, I was kicked to the curb and somehow felt I’d deserved it. So bizarre to think of being thrown out of the toxic swimming pool I’d spent my whole life drowning in and yet, feel bad for being told to get out of the water. But those were the cards I was dealt. Finding myself alone (for the first time in my life), I had to decide to either walk or lay down and fulfill their death wish. By some Grace in the new love I’d found, a Power greater than my own helped me choose to pick up my bed and walk.
KNOW WHEN TO RUN: Before real Love showed up, I didn’t know where or to whom I could turn, but I knew I was in mortal danger. My life was on fire. In that Moment of Truth, I’d stepped across the threshold of choosing my own path instead of the path that had been chosen for me. I was committed. Run. Now! And like Forrest Gump, I ran and I ran and then, I ran some more.
For me, in that situation, it was the right thing to do. As a result, lots of good things began happening when I found genuine love. And make no mistake, it was love-at-first sight (still is). I forged a new group of relatives, a new profession and a better life to go with it. My life has regained much of its original Light. A few things I’d truly believed before, survived the crucible and became stronger for having been melted down in that angry fire of so very long ago. But what I hadn’t counted on was some of the toughest parts of my resurrection didn’t come from the conflict or the struggle. The toughest bits were in the quiet act of letting go.
On the surface, letting go can seem passive…weak (I hate that word). But ask anyone who has done hospice watch and they’ll tell you letting go is the hardest part of watching cancer ravage your loved one.
I had worked so hard to gain my Self; fought so long; bled so deeply that somehow, letting go of all the wrongs seemed like an insult. To merely let go? Wouldn’t that mean my road back to myself was paved with nothing more than flimsy ticky-tack?
When I finally, authentically trusted enough to let go, something wholly unexpected happened. Good things started to populate the craters I had, for so long, assumed would always be sharp, dark fissures.
When I began to let go of my self-imposed guilt transferred from the hatred of others, I began to love. Granted, it was in fits-and-starts, but it happened.
The more I loved myself and returned it to those now around me, the easier it became to forgive those who’d wronged me. Turning the other cheek wasn’t weakness. It was an act of civil disobedience. Think about it. To have the impudence to love someone anyway – even after all that had been done all the way around – became my pathway to my redemption. And when I didn’t hate them anymore, I could let them go.
One more time, Love was working its dipsy-do voodoo. I was surprised to find that as my acceptance of myself grew, other people’s opinions of me became less and less, any of my business. And the less important the opinions of others became to me, I found other people having a higher opinion of me and what I stood for than than had been the case when I was living the lie of someone else’s expectations.
Was it costly? You bet. But not being free back then is what makes my lessons since, so sweet. Now I celebrate my Creator and the people I love. In kind, their love for me has rekindled a trust in myself to the point where I can even tell you my tale.
For all I know, this might just read Greek to you. But there are some of you who can change the names to protect the innocent and see yourselves in some of what we’re talking about. It might be you were a victim of sexual abuse; it might be a lifelong battle with food; it could be a terminal illness or the compulsion to hoard. Whatever ‘it’ is for you is none of my business. It is my business to propose you take some time this week to chart out what’s ‘you’ and what’s ‘them’. Like I’m doing right now on this yellow pad of paper, sit down and draw yourself a picture; make a list; write a paragraph. The form is irrelevant as long as it works for you in the life you’re in – right now.
From one who’s returned from the other side, I assure you there is no shame in letting go. Take your magic marker and cross some things out. Think of it as your blender moment. ‘This is your hand. This is your blender. This is your hand in the blender (again)’. Follow Groucho Marx’ diagnosis when he asked if it hurt when he did that. “Yes”. Then don’t do that. Let it be. No one of any importance is asking you to bear the weight of the world. In fact, they may even be pleased it’s you and not them. But know this: whether you decide to Hold’em or Fold’em, you already have what it takes to make the right call. And if you don’t, you already have some idea of where to get it. The cards may not be yours, but the Hand is. Let it guide you. Be your own tree. Let something go and just let it be.
We’ve driven a little further than I thought we would, but I appreciate you riding along for awhile. See you next week. Travel well.
“Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and discomfort and letting it be there until some light returns.” – Anne Lamott
Taking a moment to note passages this week…
And now, for something completely different:
I found myself in the unusual position of saying thank-you for the recognition from my peers for the quality of my work. Kina was most kind in her affirmation of what I do every week. Please visit her at: http://humaninrecovery.wordpress.com/ (July 20, 2012) and you can read for yourself why I was blushing…not an easy feat, but she did it. In accordance with the informal rule of law running through our WordPress society, let me point you to several other bloggers who may:
1. may or may not have monstrous numbers (it’s tough to tell) and;
2. from my vantage point, may well be the next generation of up and coming blogging super stars.
While there are several blogs I can’t wait to read (when I get to read), each of them are well established, confident in their Purpose and hence not mentioned here. Kina, thank you again. I’m a better man for having our blogging friendship. Tipping my hat to your acknowledgment, I value the affirmation.
The Nominations: So here are seven of the trouble-makers I’ve spotted as being worthy of their own Liebster nomination – each in different realms. Like them or not, disagree with them or not – their conviction for what they write is refreshing. Each of them has compelled me to think. I’ll let you make your own determinations of Value these bloggers might play in your life. In alpha-order, my Liebster Nominees are (envelope please):
All Access Pass: Melanie.http://allaccesspassblog.wordpress.com/
GYA Today: Paul Mark Sutherland.http://gyatoday.wordpress.com/
paralaxvu: Thought Sketches from a Skewed Mind. http://paralaxvu.wordpress.com/
Redefining life’s perceptions by Cassie Behle: http://cassiebehle.wordpress.com/
Shadows Of Love: Debbie. http://debbie915631.wordpress.com/
Work The Dream by danLrene: http://workthedream.wordpress.com/2012/07/19/just-the-right-amount
CREDITS and SOUCE ATTRIBUTIONS: Both quotes source from OprahNewsletter@oprah.com. READ MORE ABOUT IT: Beatles – Let it Be:
PHOTOS AND ILLUSTRATIONS: Drought Damaged Tree: http://www.buckleytree.com/waukeshaTreeDiseaseInsectControl.asp, Cards – Know When To Hold’Em: http://saleshq.monster.com/training/articles/52-negotiating-can-be-a-bit-like-poker-know-when-to-hold-em, Know When To Fold’Em: http://adoradora.deviantart.com/art/Know-When-to-Fold-em-231517493, Impasta by Jill of All Trades and Expert Of None: http://expertofnone.com/author/expertofnone/, Great White Shark Stalking: http://news.blogs.cnn.com/category/animals/sharks/, Istanbul, Sunken Palace by Dmitrii Lezine: http://sillymonkeyphoto.com/2012/07/20/friday-mystery-photo-13/ , EXample: Thomas Hope – 04/25/2012 06:28 AM @ http://www.mdjunction.com/forums/smoking-nicotine-addiction-discussions/introductions-personal-stories/3672061-going-to-break-free, VOLT: http://editorial.autos.msn.com/blogs/autosblogpost.aspx?post=badb4923-0efd-48b1-ac27-ec1c5edd2e98.
PASSAGES: Photos of Century 16 Theatre: US Weekly, and Celeste Holm: AP File Photo of Celeste Holm at a friends’ home in Santa Monica, Calif. in 1997.
You can read more about Ms. Holm at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celeste_Holm
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