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Friday, November 25, 2016

Getting Through It

Lean Back

If you can't get out of it, get into it!”
Outward Bound Motto

I wonder how many of us are spending today trying to recover from yesterday. All the introverts are processing everything that happened at the family gathering. One by one, the conversations will be reviewed in minute detail, and scanned for significance. The extroverts will quickly move on to the next thing, but emotion-soup is boiling away on their interior stove. Since we cannot escape our inner life, the best solution for dealing with it is to jump in and get though it.

In his book, Let Your Life Speak, Parker Palmer recounts an experience with the group, Outward Bound, of rappelling down a 110 foot cliff. The instructor asked him to lean backward off the cliff, bring his body to a right angle with the rock face, and simply walk down. He could not bring himself to do what was asked, so he tried jumping, and twice smacked hard into the rock. The instructor's calm response was, “Palmer, I don't think you've got it.” She told him again to lean all the way back, and simply walk backward down the rock. He was hanging there, frozen by fear for a long time. Finally, realizing that no one would save him, and that there was only one way out of the situation, he did what the instructor asked. He leaned all the way back, planted his feet on the rock face, and walked down the cliff.

An important step in getting through the rough stuff is getting past the personal. Past recriminations of self and others; past the anger, hurt and fear, to a place of acceptance. Ask yourself what is underneath all that angst? Bring it home—not blame, or shame, but curiosity is an appropriate approach. Sometimes, we want something that our family is not able to give. Sometimes, we want them to be who they are not. We want them to make decisions based on what we think is best, and not on what they think is best. We want them to walk the path we have set for them, and not their own path. The only possible place of resolution is acceptance. It's not giving up, it's not throwing in the towel. It's leaning back and walking through it with trust.

                                                        In the Spirit,


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