Monday, May 14, 2012

A hint of hope

It's just a hint.  Just a wee, itty bitty hint.  But I might be onto something.

Today I listened to How She Really Does It, a podcast program that brings in inspirational speakers, and today the (archived) podcast I listened to was with Danielle LaPorte.  Ms. LaPorte has a new book out, The Firestarter Sessions, that is one part inspiration mixed with twelve parts brilliance then sprinkled liberally with spirituality, but grounded in the everyday world with practical exercises.  It's heady stuff.

So today, in addition to reading Mark Nepo in the morning, I turned to Ms. LaPorte, and got some hints of what it is I might need to do, what it is that will save my soul from this fearful trembling that I'm struggling with.

Because I am still PollyAnna, but I'm the little girl PollyAnna, the one that puts on a brave face all day and then wets her pillow with silent tears at night.  Okay, maybe I'm not quite that melodramatic, but mine is not a "oh crap that driver cut me off in traffic" kind of malaise, but a soul sucking fear that maybe I can't keep my home (and the stability it represents to both Katherine and I), that I don't have what it takes to drive the career I want most....that maybe ultimately I'm not special at all and I will fail at whatever I set my hand to.

Soak in that last line - I fear that I'm not special and that I will fail in all that matters to me.  Feel that fear: feel how cold it is when it slinks into your bones, when it tightens its grip until those bones crackle and begin to splinter.  Feel how lonely it is, feel how dark, feel how confusing.  It's the kind of dizzy that makes you nauseaus.

If one of my friends was reading this - and they're not, because I really am anonymous, and I highly doubt they're doing super-sleuthing across the internet to seek out a blog that they don't know exists - they'd protest.  They'd talk about my innate leadership abilities, my smarts, my endurance.  They'd tell you how they believed in me, how it will all work out somehow.

But the kind of quaking I'm talking about can't be touched by kind words, or a hug, not even from a beloved girlfriend.

Are you still with me?  Because when you read this, don't be fooled into believing that just because I've decided to live life as PollyAnna, I don't feel suffering.

This is what suffering looks like sometimes.

But today, reviewing Ms. LaPorte, and with a little help from Mary Oliver, I think I caught a glimpse of what it is I'm supposed to be doing.  I heard a little fluttering of something warm and alive, deep down in my soul, where it has felt so cold and lonely, and I thought, maybe it is possible.

All souls have dark nights.  I've had darker than this one, and longer, too.  But that doesn't make me any less grateful for the pinprick of stars, that tiny streak in the darkness that whispers "perhaps it will work out somehow..."

Thanks, Ms. LaPorte.  I'm going to do those worksheets, the ones that I dog-eared, the ones that have some hard work in them....

And I'll revisit this from Mary Oliver, too, because when it's dark out, Mary Oliver's light shines, and today this one is speaking to me.  With it, maybe I can even hear my voice.

The Journey
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.


  1. Dear Lord... what a moment of discovery...
    I discovered that poem in an issue of Oprah's magazine years ago. It made me weep then recognition of myself, my life, my soul. It does the same to me now.

    I cut it out of the magazine and stuck it into a book... where it stayed for the years that I lied and ignored and pretended and hid and hoped beyond hope that 'it would all end happily ever after'. It didn't. And when a 32 year marriage died and I lost my business and my home and then ended up selling off everything I owned, I found that book and the piece of old paper with the poem on it fluttered to the ground at my feet. I picked it up, read it, and placed it in a small box that I move with me from Seattle to California in February. I could not cry then... I could not show any emotion when he was near, for my very life hung in the balance.

    I need to find that poem, as it still resonates with my soul. THANK YOU for sharing it here and reminding me of its healing words...

    1. Deb, I popped over to your blog to say hello, but I think I missed responding to you here. So sorry!

      Mary Oliver is a wise, wise woman, and her words always help me somehow.

      You lost so much - my goodness, I ache for you, just reading that. I hope you are finding your footing, that you are saving the only life that is yours to save...

      Thank you for coming here. I hope I get to see you again.