I realise something. At the top of my new page for the day, that clean clear line of pad, I begin it with an order. I never noticed before but I notice now. Or, on a good day my sentence, one I make sure elevates into a headline, is an order. Sit up Straight. It is a good one as I have noticed a topline slouch in my bearing. I sit and I slouch. Me… who has perfect dancer posture. And, I know, as I self correct, how much liftier I feel. Hmmm. Nonetheless, this ‘order’ is bugging me. Then comes in a Don’t. Don’t overreact, Don’t respond from your own ego and so on.
I believe that a whole load of us spend foreverness in the ‘don’ts. After all, we know them well. There were years of Don’ts from mother, father, aunt, school teacher, peers, la la la. We might consider unlearning the don’ts. Thing is that our brain doesn’t hear Don’t. You say, Don’t fall. Don’t do this. Don’t answer that text. Don’t go there. But what the ‘robot’ brain of ours actually hears is the order. It doesn’t hear the Don’t. Did You know this? T’is the truth. Don’t fall, means fall. Don’t do this means we do. Don’t go there has us pulling on a coat and doing just that. We must present different. I am a yawning lost on the antipathy of either or. You know this already. But, in this spotlight, I have no answer. I might just accept it, as I accept the wiring up of an electrical thing, one that can either light my room or could blow me into the nevernever .
All this said, I believe that each one of us has a Do mountain to climb and it is our own mountain. The Do’s and Don’ts of our past can delude us into believing that we are still restricted, that we don’t have the strength, the knowledge of mountains or the right clothing. Explicit or implicit circumstances or memories can both help and hinder our climb. Many of us, if not all, have grown into adults who lug childhood baggage along with us, thus slowing us down, making us tired, frustrated and sad. We remember the don’ts and they stick us to old ground when the one beneath our feet now, is new, is ours to walk. We can come to believe in the limitations that confined us as children, believe that they will always describe us perfectly. We might feel restless in this state of being. Why can’t I do this? Why do I tell myself I can’t? Where is the Can and the Do? We search around for someone or something to tell us we are pretty fine right through to the bone. We might read one liners that advise us to let go of our past, and believe them to be the new truth, to be the Can and the Do of who we have become. We ‘practice’ this one liner, speak it out to ourselves, write it down on paper and stick it by the kettle for a few days, only to realise that it isn’t working. Nothing has changed. The reason for this is that we don’t actually feel the one liner, cannot relate to it at the level of our wounded hearts. Our heart is not listening, it seems. There must be something wrong with us. Why don’t I ‘get’ it? We might cry into the hours of darkness. Oh, of course, the fact that I am stuck in who ‘they’ said I was is the reason I don’t ‘get’ it. I am a useless person, obviously. Other people, like her over there with her perfect body and excellent dress sense, or him with his high-flying work and his certainty on all aspects of life and how to live it, get it. The difference between them and me is, well, me. I am the idiot, I am the failure, I am just a not-getting-it person and no better than they told me I was.
The thing I have learned and am still learning is that my mountain is my mountain, the mountain I need to climb in order to find who I really am now. I am not that brat of a child with an over-active imagination. I am not waging a war against the Don’ts. Well, actually, I still am but now that I think for myself and can decide whether I do or whether I don’t from my own viewpoint, not theirs, anything is possible. As I write this I am climbing through the foothills of bereavement with all its associated freedom and loneliness. It makes me double guess myself, question the importance of me, or the lack of it. I was one of two, half of a whole for most of my adult life and now, when I turn around I can do the whole 360 and see not one soul. I am busy filling in the hours, long long hours, particularly when the sun goes down. I have no purpose any more, or so I whine when I am feeling like a pint sized space waster. And yet this is a million miles from the truth. So, I study my condition. I read avidly on the subject, listen to audio books, am curious about other stories of loss, both of a husband and of who I was, and of my bruised and battered heart. When I relate to another’s story I can feel a sudden rise of emotion. Yes, that is me too! And it helps. Being lost, however temporary, is unpleasant and scary and it is too easy to focus on the fear instead of teaching my eyes to adjust and of reminding myself that I am now free and open to adventure.
Our own predicament is always our obsession. We may indeed busy ourselves with a whole gamut of distractions but until we stop inside the fear, discomfort, restlessness or loneliness and teach our eyes to adjust, we will always be unfriending our true self and that becomes exhausting. Instead, we need to befriend ourselves, the parts we like and the parts we don’t. If the top of your mountain seems to disappear into outer space, just know that it is longing for you to begin the climb. The mountain will help. Along the way there will be pockets of rock flowers and spaces to sit and rest. There will be a spring of fresh clear water to revive you and the views will be sudden and breathtaking. I cannot advise another soul on how to begin this climb as I am way too focussed on my own, but I can say, as I have before, READ, STUDY AND BE CURIOUS. Loudly.
We have this one life within which to make our mark. We have one chance to lift someone fallen with kindness and encouragement and that person is often ourself. We cannot afford to waste time running away once we know we want to feel at peace with who we are. So, maybe you didn’t have loving parents or kind teachers or even a wonderful relationship with a mate, but none of these are who you are. I am thankful deeply for those in my life who challenged me, knocked my heart about and didn’t hear me because I am proud of who I am and who I will become. I still have a mountain to climb, yes. I may not make it to the top, but I am so going to try.