“If I am right, Thy grace impart
Still in the right to stay;
If I am wrong, O, teach my heart
To find that better way!”
~ Alexander Pope, Moral Essays
My whole life I was wrong. I laboured under the illusion that I needed to be perfect. More beautiful. Thinner. My relationships harmonious. My home a picture of neatness. I was sure that I needed acclaim, prizes, and a string of letters after my name.
Why did I want these things? Not to be better than anyone else. No. It was never that. I felt that I needed these things in order to be worthy. In order to be taken seriously. In order to be loved. In order to teach.
In order to have value.
No wonder then, that life ground me under her heel. That my family shattered, flinging me far from its arms. That illness stole my youth, my words, my energy and the fruits of my womb.
Each day now, I see the wisdom in that path.
Next weekend I shall begin a five day teaching; a residential retreat to help others to embrace and use their psychic gifts. My preparations thus far have involved meditations, contemplation, reflection, connection and lots of quiet time. My game plan this week mostly involves working from bed so that I shall be well rested and can give my all. I am not yet well. I may never be well in the way that others are well. I may become better and still be bound by limitation. But that doesn’t matter so much anymore. What matters is that I am still here, still in the game, and capable of doing what I came here to do.
Next weekend I am not concerned about how I shall look, what car shall carry me to my event, what clothes I wear other than that I must be clean and comfortable, and happy in myself. I will not be at my most svelte. My face is lined with both age and pain. I have no idea what colours are popular this Spring, or if the coral lipstick I favour is in right now. Who cares? I am not there to be judged on my appearance. It is not about me. I am there for my students. It is they who are the important ones. This event is for them. They are my focus. I don’t mind how they dress either. As long as they are warm, or cool, and unbothered by their outfits. They could be in their pyjamas for all I care. I want their attention, their passion, their hearts and minds. Within a minute or two of being together none of them will notice these external things either. We are coming together to immerse ourselves in things other than the external.
Next weekend the house I leave will be messy. There will be tasks still left undone. Any fashion style I may exhibit will be the result of my sister’s careful ministrations. Or a friend’s. All that matters for me is the work. All that matters for me is honouring the needs of my students, and the teachings of my Aunties and Ancestors, the whisperings of my own heart, and the collective energy and well being of my tribe as we come together. I have no energy for anything else, and these days, little interest for anything that does not support my values, my passions and my own well being.
I will tell my students what it has taken me this lifetime to learn. That living to please others is not important, and in fact can be downright dangerous to your own sanity and the happy playing out of your talents and gifts. That already, as humans, they are enough, but that to strive in the pursuit of knowledge or a craft that grows and shapes us is a worthy thing. A transformative thing. A very good thing.
None of us will ever be perfect. And anyway, perfection is a myth. But if we are prepared to do the work, some of us, one day, will be wiser. Kinder. More smoothed at the edges. More broken open by life, brightened by pain, luminous from loving and being loved.
Each, in our own way, having gleaned some knowledge, can then lift others up with one hand, as we steady ourselves or climb with the other.
Who ever could have known that in the brittle perfection of my youth I would loathe myself so much? Who could have ever imagined that in being thoroughly broken, I would come to love myself so dearly?