Friday, June 15, 2012

Getting to the Heart

I read this on Oriah Mountain Dreamer's blog The Green Bough yesterday:

The problem is it’s hard to recognize how far off the path of our own soul's life we've drifted when we have unconsciously dissociated in an effort to fit the life that we thought we should want or at least should commit to no matter what. Our psyche dissociates to tolerate the intolerable, to disconnect from and numb to what is insulting to the soul, and it’s pretty much impossible to disconnect and simultaneously be aware of the disconnection.

I love Oriah's writing; it gets right to the heart. Truth be told, my heart feels a little broken lately and I had been having some trouble understanding why. I think the above sentiment helps to explain it.

This week I attended two graduations a day apart, my son's middle school graduation and my nephew's elementary school graduation. Though graduations are meant to be joyous, they felt the opposite to me. They felt hollow. A few students were honored at both. I am happy for those honored, and for their success. Still, I feel sad for the majority who fall into the center of the bell curve, or below, so to speak.

At each event the speakers attempted to paint a picture of the shining future ahead of each child but I couldn't help but think of the heartbreaks many of them will face, probably are facing, as we sat listening. (It kind of feels like ceremonies of denial.)

I was feeling bad about feeling this way, and then I read Oriah's words and sent them to my close friends. After talking over my feelings with one friend, she helped me to realize that what was happening was I wasn't dissociating from my feelings but instead was deeply tuned in to reality, the reality we can't speak aloud at events like these because it would be too annihilating--so we just numb out and pretend.

We pretend that the kids who didn't get perfect grades don't feel bad that their efforts are not acknowledgeable and that if we just honor those who do, the others will somehow be okay. We pretend the kids that didn't have perfect attendance weren't missing school because they come from dysfunctional families who couldn't get them there, or that they weren't disinterested, disconnected, or depressed, and therefore didn't show up. This is insulting to our soul, so we dissociate.

If I had a chance to stand up and address those students, I would ask them each to reflect upon what is in their heart, and follow it, no matter what they have been told. I would tell them that they have each done their best, even if there are improvements to be made. I would acknowledge how it was probably really hard for many of them to show up day after day and that schools aren't really conducive to life in spite of the fact that we spend so much time in them. I would tell them to have faith and hold on and try to get to a place of higher learning, even if they think they are not worthy because of their grades or circumstances, because that's when the magic really can happen when learning can be based on their passion. I would tell them that they don't need to pretend, and that it's okay to listen to their own soul, and while it's great to have hopes and dreams, it's okay to feel sad, scared, or confused right now, that it's normal and they will be okay if they just trust themselves.

Sometimes, getting to the heart is a painful, soul searching journey, sometimes we arrive there only after our heart has been shattered, but let's be real, let's be honest about
it, let's honor each other for who we are, not just what we do.


"You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love."

Martin Luther King