Jun 24 2009
Tom and I spent last weekend at a family reunion with my mother’s side of the family at the Grand Canyon. There were 31 of us, many I had never met before, converging from all parts of the world. We traveled together in our own private rail car on a 2-hour train ride from Williams, Arizona to the Grand Canyon. At first I felt nervous and shy and apart from everyone. Eventually as I looked at them and saw familiar features, the same mouths, similar eyes looking back at me, I remembered that we are all a part of each other, and I began to relax and enjoy the journey.
My mother died 3 years ago but I could imagine her traveling with us, reveling in this family gathering. I was also aware of her within me when a singing cowboy moseyed onto our train car, and I began to sing along with him. When I was a child, my mother would do something like that, and I’d be so embarrassed. I also experienced my mother in me when some personas that we had in common, Miss Bossy Pants and Nervous Nell, showed up the day before on the 9-hour car drive with Tom to Arizona – and The Incredible Sulk was about to make an appearance later in the day. On my refrigerator I have a magnet with a picture of a woman from the 1950’s and she’s wearing a little kerchief, a pretty pink sweater, and red lipstick and the caption reads, “Despite years of personal development, she still turned into her mother.”
Yup, it’s true. What I’ve discovered is that everything I ever judged about my mother and everyone else in my family (and in my life) is in me. That’s the interesting thing about self-awareness; it’s like turning on a light in the attic and seeing all the cobwebs and creepy crawlies very clearly and seeing that they are mine. Everything I’ve been judging and projecting onto others is in me. Life is a mirror - becoming aware of that is what I call a mirror-cle.
Despite my many years of personal growth, I still get stuck – I get carried away on a run-away train of thought, hijacked by my defensive reactions. The big difference now is that mindfulness, my compassionate witness, observes it all and sees how my stuckness originates within me. Standing above the Grand Canyon and observing the twists and turns below, is similar to mindfulness, observing the twists and turns of thoughts and feelings within. It’s pretty much a given that defenses will be activated occasionally, especially in times of stress.
When we arrived at the Grand Canyon I asked Tom to hold my purse, with my jacket draped over it, while I was getting my picture taken with my cousins. My sister Carol saw this and thought, “Isn’t that nice. He’s holding her purse and jacket for her.” Tom has what he calls a Mr. Wonderful persona. When I went to get my purse back from him, my jacket was gone. “Where’s my jacket?” I asked him. “What jacket?” he asked, oblivious to it’s having been draped over the purse. He had lost my jacket! Tom also has a self-acknowledged Mr. Blunderful persona, who, to his dismay, often follows close on the heels of Mr. Wonderful.
I could feel my adrenaline hornets start to swarm as I descended into an emotional ravine, and began turning into the Incredible Sulk. “He lost my favorite jacket!” As I stood at the edge of the Grand Canyon, looking out over the panoramic view, I could clearly see the overview of my inner descent. My internal witness took it all in – the buzzing adrenaline hornets, the huffy wet hen thoughts, the Incredible Sulk, the powerful pull of this physical/emotional hijacking; and in that moment I felt compassion and understanding for myself, for my mother, for all of us who get stuck in our defensive reactions. Like gravity, they are an extremely compelling force. From atop the Grand Canyon I viewed this all unfolding within me…then I took a deep breath, smiled, and took Tom’s hand as we walked along the edge of this vast overview, consciously making the choice to shift from my snitness to my witness. Now that’s a miracle! (p.s. The jacket eventually was found!)
When I feel apart from others, I am learning to remember that I am a part of them and they are a part of me – we are all connected, we are all on a journey together, at a family re-union, here to witness the grand overview, seeing how it all fits together, seeing how we all fit together, and discovering that life is one big mirror-cle.
I’ve written a poem about this:
REFLECTIONS OF ONE
What I think are enemies
are really just the many me’s
projected out identities
for me to see and love.
Some will shout obscenities,
some without amenities,
all seem to be them, not me,
yet all are mine to love.
Mirrors, mirrors all around,
reflections of myself abound.
What most wants to be loved is found
in what I judge in you.
Loving is the alchemy
that transforms you and me to we,
the mirror-cle that helps me see,
that we are really One.
What is your life reflecting back to you? What is showing up to be faced and embraced? Are you ready for a mirror-cle?
No responses yet