Here in the Central African Republic, as its people celebrate the day that marks their independence,December 1, inwardly, I am jumping for joy, having been released from my own emotional captivity.
Like many I know, as well as the world around, the past few months, November in particular, brought me to some deep, dark and murky places within my soul that I am no rush to re-visit anytime soon. This said, surrendering to the cyclical nature of Life, if and when such instances re-appear, I will reflect back on this recent episode, knowing that I have the temperament, tenacity and tools to not only survive but more so to thrive above it all, with the grace of a butterfly and the strength of an eagle.
So what brought this on?
Well, in a nutshell, with the aid of my ego, I’d managed to lock my soul into a nutshell of how I’d envisioned my life and my plans should unfold. As they began to crumble, initially I tried holding on, thankfully for a very finite period.
Imagine having a knife stuck in your side and choosing to keep it there for fear that removing it would allow your very life force to spew out at an unprecedented rate. This was the choice before me; I kept the blade there for a short while, choosing to remove it only when I felt I could cope.
During dark times, we’re likely to make decisions that looking back upon them appear to make absolutely no sense. You see, as I once read somewhere, “the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t an illusion, the tunnel is.’” The light is always there guiding us along; it is our fear that blinds us to its rays.
So like my proverbial knife, only in recognizing its illusory function was I able to begin the process of healing. I hasten to quickly add here that when we’re caught in these phases of illusion, they can and do feel very real to us. Our gift rests in our willingness to stay with our feelings irrespective of how painful they may be at the time.
What did I do next?
Quite unplanned, I gave my inner child permission to come out and rescue me. Washed up along the eastern shores of the Kenya coast, I ran along the beach, played with the creatures of Mother Nature and innocently met friends along the way who invited me come along and play with them. Though we didn’t resort entirely to building castles in the sand, we came very close. As we frolicked and laughed together under the blazing equatorial sun, I literally felt the weight of my angst disappear.
As these young Kenyan adults met me at my hotel early one Sunday morning and brought me to their village, a glimpse of my adult, so-called responsible self emerged whispering, “have you lost your mind? What happens if they abduct you, no one will ever know where you are?!” I had visions of the local newspapers’ headlines: Jamaican Female Tourist missing! The wind that blew through my mane of dreadlocks as I breathed in the freedom of being on the back of a motorbike quickly removed my plausible doubt and replaced it with joy and playfulness.
We spent the day eating freshly roasted cashews, laughing and swapping stories. They taught me the name of
each plant and its healing properties in their communal plot of land and later, we shared a simple meal of ugali, an East African dish made of maize flour combined with water, and steamed okra. Later that afternoon we returned to the beach and like dolphins swam awhile in the Indian Ocean before parting company. The healing effects of this glorious day still remain with me, several weeks later.
As this year, a confronting and challenging one for so many of us draws to an end, today I find myself reflecting not so much on what happened but more so on the lessons that it brought me. I now acknowledge that what one may deem to be initially catastrophic may well be a diamond in the rough. And our carefully strategically made plans may actually involve unexpected twists, turns and alleyways. Rather than reject or resist them, perhaps our trials are an invitation for us to delve deeper into who we intrinsically are and what really matters to us.
For me, the holiday season is always a double edged sword; one that sets up the expectation of happiness “on tap” yet more often than not, it brings forth immense disappointment that we then spent the first quarter of the new year trying to sift through and sort out.
Rather than allowing ourselves to be seduced in the notion of over-eating and gift giving, perhaps we may wish to look at how we feed ourselves symbolically and spiritually as well as the choices we present ourselves with. Are we [over]stuffing ourselves with food that while seemingly delicious in the moment has long term adverse effects – like weight gain – that we then struggle with from January through March to lose?
I recently glimpsed somewhere that the gift wrapping industry is a 4 million dollar one in the United States alone. Imagine, discarding 4 million dollars mindlessly?
Yet in such depressed economies as we’re now experiencing I suppose the balance of scales dictates that this industry does employ hundreds of thousands of people who might otherwise be unemployed. But what about the trees that are cut at the cost of de-forestation to feed our greed? How does one reconcile this?
Even though we mightn’t have all or any of the answers, at least through raising the questions, we are enhancing our levels of awareness and ultimately our consciousness.
We live amidst global crises and issues that are clearly indicative of a need for change yet many of us are amiss as to how to go about creating the very thing that we need in order to continue to live.
To conclude, I share this gift with you:
“I prayed for change, so I changed my mind.
I prayed for guidance and learned to… trust myself.
I prayed for happiness and realized I am not my ego.
I prayed for peace and learned to accept others unconditionally.
I prayed for abundance and realized my doubt kept it out.
I prayed for wealth and realized it is my health.
I prayed for a miracle and realized I am the miracle.
I prayed for a soul mate and realized I am the One.
I prayed for love and realized it’s always knocking, but I have to allow it in.”
– Jackson Kiddard
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