There is a crack running through the cement in our backyard.
Awhile ago, a little plant sprang up from it. Although I know this should be seen as a nuisance, as it will only cause the cement to deteriorate further, I couldn't help but feel awe and wonder over how this plant so effortlessly brought life to a place where it seems no life should be.
I looked closely at this little plant, wondering how a seed got in there in the first place. Did it fall from a bird in the exact perfect way so as to land right there? Did the wind blow it in, knowing that below this hardened surface was fertile soil? And how did the seed grow a plant right up through the crack? It's not like it had a map to the surface!
As I looked at the crack it made me think about cracks within myself. Cracks from fear, cracks from anger, cracks from disappointment.
There is an oft repeated quote by Leonard Cohen that says, "Ring the bells that still can ring / Forget your perfect offering / There is a crack in everything / That's how the light gets in".
When I saw the little plant, I realized that cracks aren't just how light gets in, but also life, seeds, the possibilities we can't see.
What I see as a personal detriment, like overwhelming fear, is really a crack waiting to show me something unexpected and beautiful. The very thing that makes me so afraid, such as a big, scary new career step, is the very place something miraculous and transformative can happen.
To never feel afraid would mean nothing new was happening. It would mean I wasn't exploring, growing and reaching for new heights. And without that growth, which leads to the cracks of fear, I would never open up to seeds that come from places beyond me.
Just as the seed in the cement came from an unknown place in order to bring the exact plant that was meant to grow there, I too can receive unknown gifts which come in ways I cannot control or plan. But it will only happen so long as I allow myself to stop trying to be shiny and perfect. I must give myself space to crack open to my inner depths.
Fear and anxiety are some of my biggest inner blocks. But I am now realizing that they aren't bottomless voids holding me back. They are showing me hidden potentials.
Within the fear is the potential for something strong to grow. Something so hardy and centered that it would not only not be dettered by cement, it would break through it, calmly and patiently planting itself deeper and deeper, growing bigger and bigger, until that which seems bigger and harder has no choice but to cede to the beautiful, life giving plant.
The cracks of fear and anger and pain are not the things holding us back in life. They are places where the seeds of our courage and strength take root and grow, showing us the true meaning of persistence and the power to change the seemingly rigid and fixed.
"As you unfold the new self, remember to move into that state of mind and body that feels invincible, powerful, absolute, inspired, and overjoyed.
Let the pictures come; see them with certainty, with a knowingness that unifies you to those events or things. Bond with your future as if it is yours, without any concern other than expectancy and celebration.
Let yourself go and begin to free-associate without concern. Become empowered by your new sense of self. With clarity, hold the image of each manifestation in your mind for a few seconds, and then let it go into the quantum to be executed by a greater mind …then go to the next one …keep going …this is your new destiny.
Allow yourself to experience that future reality in the present moment until you convince your body to emotionally believe that the event is coming to pass now. Open your heart and experience the joy of your new life before it actually manifests."
- Dr. Joe Dispenza, Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself
Fear is something I think about a lot.
It's also something I feel a lot. Oftentimes when I tell people this, they're surprised, because fear doesn't seem to stop me from doing the things I want to do.
But I will tell you a secret. Fear doesn't always show up as a massive blocking force, like some mountain in your path. Sometimes it shows up as an overwhelming terror that says DO NOW GO GO GO. It's the fear that tells me I'm not good enough, and I must go as fast as I can because if I stop and think about that, I'll drown in my feelings of inadequacy.
Rather than asking myself why I feel inadequate, I put all my energy into outrunning the fear and insecurity.
If you move fast enough, it all becomes a blur, and you actually don't have to feel anything. You can go so fast you convince yourself of a faux confidence, which says, I'm moving and hustling so I must be doing something right!
The thing with movement is, it's not always accelerating us in positive directions. Movement does not always equal productive outcomes. Sometimes we're just racing towards a brick wall.
If you ask me at any given time what I'm doing, I've always got half a dozen things on the stove top. I'm writing a screenplay. I'm revising another one. I'm learning calligraphy. I'm learning Spanish. I'm making a meditation. I'm making another meditation! I'm writing a blog post! I'm writing a podcast! I'm doing a 30 day challenge!!! I'm tap dancing while juggling chainsaws!!!!!!
Okay, the last one isn't real. But pump me full of enough fear, and by God, I'd do it. Which is often times the exact opposite message we are told about fear. Most conversations around fear tell us it's the thing stopping us and holding us back. But for a lot of people, it's not stopping them at all. It's the thing shoving their foot down on the gas pedal, driving them 90 miles per hour through a treacherous mountain pass.
Sometimes it causes us to become workaholics. Sometimes it causes us to try a million different things in an endlessly frantic state. Sometimes it gets us travelling all around the world, forever on the go but never addressing the inner void pushing us on.
Fear has never stopped me from doing anything. In fact, it's acted like a fuel that's launched me at breakneck pace into all kinds of adventures. This probably sounds good, but it's not.
I'm not doing these things because I love myself and I'm excited about life. I'm doing them because I'm too scared to pause and ask myself if I feel worthy when I'm doing nothing.
Could I feel worthy in a state of nothingness? At this time, no. If I had nothing on the stove top, and I had to stand before you with nothing to validate my existence, I would crumble like a sandcastle in high tide. Here's the plain truth: my ambition is more often than not an armor to my inner vulnerability.
We sometimes see people who achieve great things and think, wow, that person must really feel great about themselves! And they very well might. They very well might have healthy self-esteem. But they also might be like me, needing ever greater accomplishments to prove their worthiness.
To try and feel worthy without anything but my own self makes me feel like I'm walking around naked.
My need to overpower my fear and go faster and faster only creates deeper, more catastrophic fear. Without ever resolving the core issue, I'm just lighting the fuse to my inner TNT. I am so afraid I'm not good enough for the things I want that I leap before looking, not pausing to ask why I feel insecure, and never bothering to stop and check if there's broken glass in my path. The only thing worse than the thousand cuts I get is the inner pain of always shouting down my inner voice.
Be quiet inner voice, I'm trying to be fearless, which is only making more fear, and I need you to shut up so I can concentrate on over powering all this fear and if I stop to listen to you I'll actually feel all this fear and I can't do that!
I can even be found going at the speed of light when it comes to spirituality. I read every book I can on meditation, self-help, and divinity. And then I journal, reflect, and read more. Then I meditate for hours. I do yoga. If it sounds like it'll help me to heal, I'll do it. All of it.
Except for the part where I just stop and breathe.
My inner voice is constantly whispering to me, Please, just slow down. Just pause and breathe.
Because all my fear is basically rooted in a fear of rejection, and I am now rejecting my own voice, I only end up digging myself deeper into the fear hole. I push down on the gas harder, knowing I'm going too fast, I'm losing control, and this is making more fear, and so I just go faster, until I either run out of gas or careen off the side.
It's at this point, when I've been forced to stop and rest, that I begin "self-care". But it's not really self-care. True self-care is what we give ourselves far before we ever reach the point of burn out. Self-care and self-love administered when there's no other choice is more like crisis management. Real, heart based self-care and self-love is preventative, and not done retroactively.
It's the thing you do that says, "I am valuable and I am worthy of my own love and attention. I don't have to go a thousand miles an hour to earn this nourishment. There is nothing to earn. I am valuable just as I am."
Which isn't to say you shouldn't do self-care when you've reached burn out. We all have to start where we are. But learning to value and treat ourselves with respect before our inner world is burning down is something few have mastered.
Maybe especially me.
After all my years of meditating, studying spirituality, and reflecting on my self and my path, I have come to see I am still a beginner in it all. The facade I built that made me believe I know what I'm doing has cracked and broken wide open. I have so much to learn about myself and my inner world. I have an ocean of feelings that sometimes rise up like a tidal wave, reminding me of my own power, and what happens when I use that power in self-destructive ways.
In the past, I have done things that literally made my legs and voice shake with fear.
At the time, I felt like this was a good thing. I felt like if I didn't do this, life would pass me by. But what is life if it isn't about honoring and treating our own selves like precious cargo? Bullying myself into fighting my fear wasn't life. It was exhausting. I no longer see pushing myself so hard that I want to panic as any sort of positive quality. I just see it as fear based motivation, and nothing in my life that was fear based ever worked out in a positive way.
I now choose to take action from a place of love. If I feel myself pushing too hard, I stop. If I'm tired, I stop. If I feel insecure, I tell a trusted friend (shout out to Susan and Rachael!). I give those negative thoughts space and let them know that there's no shame in having them. They are a part of me. I don't have to juggle a thousand plates in order to distract myself from their existence.
I will get where I'm going. I will get there in my own time. I will rest as much as necessary on the way there. And when I'm there, I hopefully won't collapse from exhaustion. Rather, I will rise up higher, full of energy for whatever adventure lovingly shows up next.
Awhile back, I inherited a red eared slider turtle.
The thing with turtles is, they poop way more than fish. They release a ton of waste that sinks down and settles into the rocks. As long as you didn't wait too long between water cleanings, it wasn't really noticeable. But if you did wait too long, the water would turn brown and make the turtle sick.
This, in itself, is a striking visual of what happens when we hold onto our emotional waste.
You might not see it at first. You might feel okay for awhile. But eventually, it's going to pollute your mental and emotional system. Unresolved anger, guilt, and pain, it settles down into your rocks, where it seems innocuous. But just like how the bacteria from the turtle feces slowly poisons the water, all those feelings are slowly poisoning you.
As the turtle will surely tell you, living in your own shit is the worst. It makes you fatigued. It can cause chronic pain and illness. It can make you believe you're weak and incapable. And then it can trick you, making you think there's something wrong with you, leading you to feel more shitty feelings, which also get trapped. But there is nothing wrong with you now and never was. You just need a good tank cleaning.
Knowing the shit has to go is the easy part. Getting it out? That's when things get, ahem, a little messy.
You see, in order to change the tank water you've got to pump out the old. I used a large filter/siphon combo that I would let drain out through a window. But it's not enough to just drain the water. You have to move the pump through the rocks, or the whole thing is pointless. And this is when I began to see the bigger picture of change.
Moving the pump about stirs up the rocks.
All that waste that I ignored and pretended wasn't there, it began circulating back up into the water. It would turn into a dark brown, water poop cloud. It was such a filthy mess that I would take the turtle and fish out first.
It always frustrated me that I had to first make the water dirtier in order to get it clean.
But the thing is, there's just no way to get the shit out without stirring it up. As the water would cloud up I would always think, "My God, how did they live with that!" But the same is true of me also - when I start poking at my triggers, turning my own inner world into a murky mess, I always end up thinking afterwards, "Geeze, how did I live with that for so long!"
As the water drained, I would keep moving the pump around, getting the rocks as clean as possible. I never really enjoyed this, because it looked so unappealing. But I also knew it was going to feel amazing afterwards.
Once the water was all pretty much out, it would be time to start filling the tank with fresh, clean water. Now this part felt good! Pouring in bucket after bucket of pure, straight from the tap water was so satisfying.
It's the same feeling we get when filling ourselves with love after polluting ourselves with doubt, guilt and insecurity.
After the tank was full, there would still be a little bit of sediment floating around. It would take a few hours for everything to fully settle. This I've found to be true for me also. Just when I think I'm through it all, I find there's still a little bit left to release, a little fine tuning left to do.
And then would come the best part. The tank filter would process out what was left floating around in the water. Everything would settle. And it would look so BLUE and so CLEAR that it was mesmerizing. It was practically euphoric.
Always, at this point, I would pull up a chair, sit back, and stare at the tank. The turtle and all her little fish friends would go back in. I swear I could feel the happiness and relief radiating off of her.
She loved a clean tank the same way we love a good sage smudging.
It was during these times I would enjoy the turtle the most. Sitting in my old wooden rocker, I'd watch the tank, listening to the soft burbling of the water filter. The fish would swim back and forth in excitement, checking out the changes. The turtle would lounge under her heat lamp, stretching her neck up like she's the queen of the world and she knows it.
I would sit quietly, relaxed, reflecting on my own path, my own challenges and triumphs with change. I would gently rock back and forth, totally at peace, soaking in that feeling of crystal, clear water flowing and flowing and flowing.
If you are in the midst of change, or struggling to release things yourself, I would suggest trying my Heart Healing Light meditation. It's specifically made to clear your energy, to release things you took on from others, and to fill with you love and positive energy after you've gotten all the gunk out of the way.
Just because a leap of faith is small doesn't make it any less important.
It may, in fact, be the most important thing you ever do. Your leap may be so small no one notices but you. It may be so small it seems you're only a few inches further than before.
But that's all it takes to shift your world.
All you are required to do is love and cherish your courageous leap, just as you would this little frog, who also makes small leaps. But to her, they are the grandest leaps of all, because they are hers, and she knows each small leap helps her legs grow stronger.
She must grow them now, because it will prepare her for when she's bigger. And when that time comes, she will effortlessly take the big, huge leaps that she can only now dream of.