"Every school in every town and city should show this film, as well as every church, temple, mosque, men’s and women’s groups. It is a testimonial to the human Spirit alive and well in the lives of those who dare to stand up and be counted in original ways."
Dr. Cara Barker | The Huffington Post
When I look at the breaking news, featuring the latest scare, be it Swine Flu, the economy, natural disasters, torture, I am reminded of Fritz Perls’ words: “Life is just one damn thing after another!” It is a statement which still amuses me, both in its truth, and, from the fact, that it comes from one of the greats in teaching people how to get through caca and uncertain conditions. We’ve all got to learn how to become more buoyant when troubled waters come.
A Wake-up Call. The problem with too much to handle is that it gives us endless excuses to put off what is in our heart. I was reminded of this 24 hours ago when one of our closest friends went into cardiac arrest twice, was shocked with paddles, eventually, his rhythm somewhat restored. As the family gathered around the bedside, I thought of his life, his many adventures, and how his generous heart has affected so many. He’s carried a legacy of ‘getting back on the saddle,’ jumping back into life full force. After his last cardiac episode, a year ago, he decided to build a yurt on one of the nearby islands, a dream he’d held for a long time. He told me: “I know people will think I’m nuts. But, if not now, when?” While many would have said ‘It’s too late,” not him.
Bullying Ourselves into Submission. What is it that compels some folks to grab hold of their dream and run with it, while the majority of people hang back? I’d love to hear your answer, so do stop by in the reply section below. What I can say, after hearing thousands of stories of those who go for it, and those who don’t, one thing is clear to me. We hang back because we are afraid of the consequences of getting out there and being fully ourselves, especially when we are still discovering just who we are in entirety. And, for those who would argue ‘I know myself completely’, I refer them to the statement of Oscar Wilde: “Only the shallow think they know themselves!”
We bully ourselves into submission to the collective. Part of the flurry of responses to Susan Boyle last week comes from the fact that she did not wait until her eyebrows were plucked, her hair dyed, or clothes redone, to sing. She sings because she has a song in her that needs singing. She’s been given a voice, and regardless whether the audience is ready or not, she steps up and gives it her all. This, my friends, is resilience. We cheer because she is like ‘every woman,’ every man: that sort of courageous soul who goes about their life, and suddenly, they’re seen and valued.
Of course, for the brave men, women, and children who step out, like Susan, there comes a silent, and, sometimes, not so silent chant: “Who does she/he think she/he is?” I don’t get to do what she is doing. It’s not fair.” As in the tale I mentioned in my last post, “The Ugly Duckling” there is a strong injunction to get back with the flock, resume your Twittering, and forget about your need to create a more meaningfully expressive life. A collective cry goes out to fall back in line, and mute your Light. I remember, myself, in first grade having the awareness that if I continued to raise my hand to give answers, (I loved school early on), then I wouldn’t be invited to birthday parties, because it wasn’t cool to like school.
I am sharing this with you in response to a reply I got that broke my heart. One blogger wrote, and I paraphrase, that he had no gifts or talents, and his friends didn’t think so, either. Listen, everyone has a talent. It might not be known yet. Others might not be reflecting it back to us, yet. Perhaps we keep ourselves so distracted by ‘to dos,’ or get caught in the driver’s seat of other people’s emotional ambulances, that we deny ourselves the time it would take to focus on what is truest in our nature. Maybe we are hanging out, waiting for ‘perfect conditions,’ that will not come, or permission, that will not arrive. The only question is when are we willing to give ourselves permission to come more fully alive, and serve the gift of life today, even if we look different, seem different, to sensitive, too smart, too creative?
Our answer is crucial. Look at the last two weeks: two eleven year old boys have hung themselves because they were ‘too sensitive,’ and didn’t behave in ways others were willing to accept. With enough pressure, the human psyche can turn against itself. Unless, that is, we learn to reclaim our right to champion ourselves, and others. What will it take for us to become Resilience Champions?
Resilience Champions in Action. In case you didn’t get to read the amazing response last week from a Grammy winner, here’s an illustration of self-permission that’s a stunner:
“How extraordinary you are for this article. Andrew’s story is my story. I was beaten and bullied all the way into high school for being a singer, an artist, a sensitive human being, a smart boy. Andrew’s performance should give us all hope, hope that every human being can follow their passion and be the person they know themselves to be inside.
Walking down the red carpet for the first time at the Grammy’s confirmed that they were wrong and I was right. I am the artist they feared and I will continue to tell my story with my music until I take my last breath.” Hothardtop.
Another Resilience Champion, Maria, writes:
“...Thank you...for recognizing this phenomenon. Perhaps things are changing, for I—an overweight, 53 year old recently went to London to audition for a place in the London Repertory Company Academy. And I made it! It took me all these years to clarify my dream, to let go of societal and familly judgments, and to gather the courage to try. Perhaps we can become a more open and accepting society as a result of Susan Boyle and others who have so much to give, but not necessarily a pretty package to wrap it up in!” Go, Maria!
For all of you ‘Marias,’ Grammy winners, and those who appreciate the tenacity it takes to trust your own heart, I’ve got a gem for you. For whose who say ‘I need to take a peek into the process of living authentically, enjoy as well. Last week I witnessed something that helped put into perspective the bad news we hear each day, with something empowering. This fresh documentary, “Who Does She Think She Is?” is nothing short of treasure. Here, we have portraits of women with resilience, women willing to pay the price, women willing to take their stand based on the Truth of their heart, women brave enough to express their gifts in truly original ways.
Please enjoy the following feast of Resilience Champions. Directed by Pamela Tanner Bell, “Who Does She Think She Is?” is a must see. Get to know these marvelous women. Imagine the dedication it must have taken for the team to take the six years required to move the desire to produce this story, into a living reality. Every school in every town and city should show this film, as well as every church, temple, mosque, men’s and women’s groups. It is a testimonial to the human Spirit alive and well in the lives of those who dare to stand up and be counted in original ways. And, when it comes to town, do yourself the enormous favor to grab a busload of those you know, and take them to the movies. Look, it’s time for us to turn away from the jeers ‘who does she think she/he is?’ and get on with the business of singing a song of joy through our lives. Today just may be all we’ve got. Ask Clark.
Dr. Cara Barker is an author, analyst, and Founder of The Love Project, Love Fests and Retreats.
This article was originally published on The Huffington Post:
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