Humility & Hope in Progress

A few things I love – having opinions of opinions, walking on a path paved with certainty and close-mindedness disguised as open- mindedness, and last but not least always being right. 

Can you imagine the emotional, physical, and spiritual wellness that comes with all this pent up bitterness, self-righteous rage and judgement? Yeah – I bet a few of you can. 

I didn’t even realize my festering wound until my close friend, Amanda, identified it for me. 

Healing takes time and plenty of ointment – but NOT liquid bandage – I learned that stuff (literally) stings like a motherfucker. A story for another time. 

What is this ointment I’ve found? – I can’t share. Patent pending. (I’m full of “funny” jokes this a.m. – I blame the coffee)

My ointment – True humility, being honest with yourself and another human of where you are, that you need help, and being accepted unconditionally. 

The first step is the hardest for me – reaching out and being honest that I am living in a pit of “fuck it” and need [gulp] help [gag]. I love needing others. It’s the best. Trusting humans – sure – there is nothing to worry about. I may be a vocal groupie of Brené Brown but actually being vulnerable on all fronts and in all interactions feels abnormal and way too dangerous.   

Yet, in the past week, when I’ve let it all (well some of it) out to another breathing human being(s) – the freedom and restful sleep has been surprising.  Hell – I’ve even found myself surrendering to a God of love, grace and forgiveness. Before, I would have told you surrendering is straight up, 100% weakness, and a complete avoidance of being a self-reliant, responsible adult. However, I can’t ignore my experience and deny I didn’t feel lighter and even more hopeful after truly connecting with others in despair and joy and seeking assistance from my God. (That was hard to type out – I have to include this disclaimer: I don’t believe in a God who will save the “good” people from cancer and only let “sinners” die if you pray hard enough). I want to come up with a fun name for God – but as of today I’m ok with the traditional language. Anyway – I digress. 

Before this past week, I would have called bullshit and shutdown anyone who would try and convince me it is a good thing to be honest, hopeful, and trustful of humanity in the times we live in… because damn. Our country is swimming in a fear – ego – greed -polluted RISING ocean. 

Sometimes hope is a radical act, sometimes a quietly merciful response, sometimes a second wind, or just an increased awareness of goodness and beauty. Maybe you didn’t get what you prayed for, but what you got instead was waking to the momentousness of life, the power of loving hearts. You hope to wake up in time to see the dawn, the first light, a Technicolor sunrise, but the early morning instead is cloudy with mist. Still, as you linger, the ridge stands majestically black against a milky sky. And if you pay attention, you’ll see the setting of the moon that illumined us all as we slept. And you see a new day dawn.

Anne Lamott

I remember after the last presidential election; I was having breakfast with a friend. She asked me to make a choice regarding the type of person I want to be in times that feel utterly hopeless and doomed (I’m paraphrasing here):

a) To be the person staring at the wall (not that wall) while others suffer and secretly ridicule the hopeful 

b) To be the person who willingly engages in helping relieve another’s suffering even if it is only temporary 

I’ve had days, months – pretty much all last year give or take a few days –  where I chose to stare into our impending doom. All action felt pointless. I was a real joy to be around! 

I’m sharing this with you because I’m determined to not continue making that choice. I want to shed my personas (see previous post), my cynicism, and the need to be right that we are all doomed. I don’t expect a miracle, though I’m open to receiving one now.

This road of unlearning is going to be rocky – it has already landed me on my ass but I don’t see another choice that will lead to community, freedom, and a belief that a Great Spirit is here and now, in all and everything. 

Where am I today? It’s Sunday morning and I’m enjoying coffee in my newly gifted, comfy and often nap-inducing chair watching my foster kittens lose their minds and then crash. I’m reading the news (healthy balance) and learning about ways to be involved in the resistance. I’m praying to my God to remove my self-reliance and to help me recognize the spirit in everyone (yes….everyone). I’m ok if and when I fail. I’m learning to recognize I’m not alone in this thing called life. It’s nice.

One last thing – I’d recommend adopting furry friend or two – they keep you grounded and present. Check out your local humane society, animal shelter and here’s a plug for the cat rescue I volunteer with:

We take the action—soup kitchens, creek restoration, mentoring—and then the insight follows: that by showing up with hope to help others, I’m guaranteed that hope is present. Then my own hope increases. By creating hope for others, I end up awash in the stuff.

We create goodness in the world, and that gives us hope. We plant bulbs in the cold, stony dirt of winter and our aging arthritic fingers get nicked, but we just do it, and a couple of months later life blooms—as daffodils, paperwhites, tulips.

Hope is sometimes a decision that we won’t bog down in analysis paralysis. We show up in waders or with checkbooks. We send money to India, and the Sierra Club, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and to Uncle Ed’s GoFundMe account for his surgery.

Anne Lamott
(I know, I’m obsessed. As I’ve said before – deal with it!)

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