Holding on and letting go
I’ve been contemplating the state of the world lately, how it is equally important to focus on the best possible outcomes, as it is to face the tragedies. This became obvious to me today when my daughter who is visiting the east coast right now asked if she could call me and tell me about a dream she had the night before.
When we talked on the phone she mentioned that she had heard about the serial cat killer in our area and she wanted to make sure our cat was ok.
She told me she had looked it up on our online newspaper where she happened to read that a woman was found dead outside our local pizza shop and that an innocent store clerk was stabbed in the throat multiple times by an irate customer. All in the past few days.
My next client arrived before my daughter could tell me about her dream and even though that is why she called me, I had to get off the phone and go back to work. But she couldn’t let it go. She needed to tell her story so bad that the words started pouring out of her as fast as she could speak. In the ten steps, it took me to walk from my back porch to my desk where my client was waiting, she had described her dream in elaborate detail.
It had to do with finding an innocent bunny while the whole world became an apocalyptic scene falling apart all around her. She had to run with the bunny in her arms fleeing for safety.
Later after I finished work I started to feel the energy of my day and how it related to her dream which seemed to be informing me on some deeper level like it was an echo of the conversations I’d been having with clients, friends, and colleagues. So many events, political, personal and ecological seem to be coming to the surface like some kind of purging. Like a wound that is infected and oozing.
My daughters’ dream has a familiar quality. It feels like it belongs as much to her as to the world in some way. I think we all know what it feels like to hold onto something innocent and vulnerable, to try to keep it safe. I have that feeling every time I hear her talk about the things she sees and has to deal with. I want to hold on to her even if I can’t outrun the world.
I told her what I know about the power of our dreams. That it is often the thing we are trying to outrun that we need to turn and face. Usually, it is our own transformation that is chasing us.
We can’t keep outrunning ourselves. Sometimes we have to stop and ask what it is that needs to fall apart, and what it is we need to let go of personally.
And sometimes our dreams are also telling a story about the collective. Our dreams are not always just our own because we do not exist alone. We are a part of a greater community and we dream for each other. When my daughter couldn’t help but tell me her dream, I recognized it as the kind of dream that needed to be told. That needed to be listened to, honored and shared. Some dreams are like that.
Recently there was a mother Orca near where I live who carried her dead baby for 17 days. She traveled over 1,000 miles with it. Because of her unusual behavior, and the fact that her species is endangered due to lack of food and pollution, her grieving ritual became national news. It was only a few days ago when she finally let her baby go.
When my daughter told me about her dream, I thought about the mother whale holding her dead baby. I thought of all the mothers and the collective fatigue we feel from all the running. And I thought of the great journey that it takes to find completion around our grieving. Whether we are trying to outrun or recover from our tragedies, we are all sharing the same dream.
I was so grateful that the public took notice of the mother whale and her dead baby. As a mother, I know that I carry my grief in much the same way. It is not something I can hide easily and I don’t think it should be hidden or let go of too soon. I think we need to be allowed to have it first.
We as a collective are responsible for what happens to each other. We are responsible for what happened to the Orca baby. We can’t outrun the destruction that we are creating with our pollution, our overconsumption and misuse of natural resources.
It shouldn’t be left up to each individual mother alone to protect her baby. We need to protect them all. Our own and each other’s. Every species. Without exception. We are responsible to witness this for each other and to hear and acknowledge each other’s dreams and nightmares whether they occur while we are asleep or awake.
I am a firm believer in staying open and receptive to all the possibilities for healing that exist in the face of every kind of hardship. I am a firm believer that everything is perfect.
It is always good to anchor the positive pole.
But before we can get there with any integrity, we have to be brave enough to turn around and see what we are running from. We have to be willing to make the long journey, to be thorough with our grieving, to be witnessed and held in it.
Just the other day I gashed my arm open on a rusty nail. I went to urgent care to make sure it wasn’t serious but simultaneously I knew I would be ok. I trust implicitly the miraculous way my body knows how to heal. Sometimes a bleeding wound can be scary and painful. Sometimes it looks god awful. I had to tune into my bodies resources and ask myself what felt right. At what point did I need compression and at what point did it need fresh air?
I think all kinds of wounds are like this. All trauma needs to be held appropriately and at some point, it needs to be allowed to breathe. When it was time, I had to take off the bandage and walk around looking wounded so it could heal. I was embarrassed because it was unsightly. I had to embrace my own vulnerability. Let myself be seen imperfectly.
I know my body knows how to heal itself if I just leave it alone and keep the wound clean. I trust this. But if I was to try to hide it, or was unwilling to acknowledge that it was there, I know it could get infected. That sometimes happens when we don’t acknowledge our wounds. When we don’t give them the attention they need to heal properly.
I am constantly contemplating this for the world.
What can I do to hold space for the wounds I witness?
How can I trust the intelligence of my body, of each being, of the world to heal in its own miraculous way?
What is the medicine that I personally have to bring to each situation that I am willing to turn and face?
How can I tend to the ugliest of wounds in a good way?
Sometimes it is important to step in and help each other feel ok about being unsightly.
Being wounded can be ok.
And sometimes it isn’t ok and we need to hold the bandage in place for one another, refusing to walk away.
When it is too late to save the ones we love we must learn from the creatures of the water how to grieve. Like the whale who carried her baby. Not every wound is treatable, but that does not mean there isn’t healing taking place.
All we can really do in the end is hold on tight to that which we long to protect while being brave enough to face the truth, share our process, let ourselves be witnessed.
And only when it is time to let go do we let go.