Okay, so I've been writing more, and drawing a bit, but I want to keep that trend going, so I've committed to updating this blog several times a month. It's good for me and (if you're reading this) hopefully a pleasant diversion for you. So, first with the words. This is a reflection I wrote this weekend. While I'm planning to continue posting nonfiction reflections, I'm also working on a novel, and may start posting sections of that, or at least some of my short stories. I honestly welcome feedback, even if it's "hey buddy, don't quit your day job." But I'll keep posting drawings, as they come. Here goes:
I am weak.
This is not a crisis of self-confidence, you understand. It’s a recognition of a basic fact. By myself, I am able to accomplish startlingly little. I do have a certain amount of control over my reactions to my circumstances, and control over many of the choices that I make, but in many more ways, I’m weak. There are so many things that I dream of doing: of being able to change my height and flying and being a perfect husband and son and brother and helping other people conquer their social anxieties; but I can’t. I can’t change unless I’m willing to admit I need to change, and that I need help to realize that change.
Is weakness the same as complete powerlessness? No. Can I be a good man as a short man? Yes. Can I figure out my weaknesses as a husband by listening carefully to my wife and asking for her help to become better over time? Yes. Can I make resolutions to start good habits in my life? Yes.
Can I learn to fly like a hawk? No. Can I feed all the hungry people in the world? No.
It may seem like I’m being intentionally flippant, but there are plenty of things that I can’t do, that I want to do, and part of me feels like a failure when I realize how little I can really change. But then there are plenty of things I need to do that I’m capable of; but I need help to accomplish them, and humility to recognize when I’m heading in the wrong direction.
Being a religious person, I have always held the conviction that I am dependent on a higher, universal, personal, caring consciousness. (I’m intentionally avoiding precise religious terminology. I’m doing that because I’ve met lots of people, many of them very dear to me, who have found only hostility and judgment in the halls of religion, and yet many of those same people are striving to find a place for genuine, life-giving spirituality in their lives. I count it a privilege to have shared any part of their journey and am honored to share mine with them, and so I’m hoping that less charged language will speak to the commonality of both the religious and those who are taking a more individualized path to truth. I’m trusting in the wisdom of Gandalf, that not all those who wander are lost.) So, I’ve always believed in this wise consciousness that knows me and cares for me. And yet, I have often found it difficult to sit down and listen to this consciousness, and most of the time, I’ve simply been too busy to even try. But lately I’ve been trying to assess my life, to figure out what’s working and what’s holding me back, and how I can be a more effective person. For a long time I’ve been encountering anxiety and frustration, feeling like parts of my life were totally out of my control, and I've felt disconnected from some things that were very important to me. With the help of some very good friends, I’m coming to see that, even though I’ve been telling myself that I’m flawed and need help and encouragement to grow, I’ve been living “as if” I were strong and in control. I said that I believed in this power greater than myself, but I seldom checked in with that being. So I asked myself: if I really believed myself to be weak, how would my life be different?
The first thing that came to mind was, if I really believed that I needed help, and I knew where to turn to get that help, I’d make sure I spent some time, each day, turning to that source. Part of that conversation, then, is, going to be recognizing my weaknesses and frustrations, and maybe some time recognizing my accomplishments and things I’m grateful for. But part of that time will also need to be spent listening.
Listening is a hard thing to do, I’m finding. But, like anything, it will come with practice, and it may come slowly. So I’m going to be patient with myself. Sometimes, I imagine, listening is going to involve reading helpful books; sometimes it will involve talking to close friends and family; sometimes it involves going for a walk and getting a breath of fresh air, watching a sunset, or really relishing a nice dinner. But simply engaging in those activities isn’t enough for me; if I’m going to listen, I need to be quiet. And that’s not easy, especially when we live such fast-paced, noise-filled lives. But I’m resolving to take 5 minutes, each day, and sit quietly, and put myself in the presence of that being who cares for me, and has a deeper understanding of the world around me, and wants to develop a supportive and life-giving relationship with me. 5 minutes away from my phone, away from exercise routines and calendars, away from coffee and books, and giving myself the gift of silence, shared with a friend. A friend who wants to help me. A friend who offers me strength when I’m willing to accept it.
I’ve known this for a long time. But today, I’m trying to live as if it were true.