The event horizon

I listened to Parker Palmer giving this commencement address to the graduating class at Naropa University, and several times I got goose bumps and shivers. For me, those have become telltale signs that there’s something important and/or very true being shared.

BoldomaticPost_As-you-integrate-ignorance-anThe six suggestions Parker provides on living a life worth exploring are simple. And powerful. So powerful I followed my urge to split this recommendation into six consecutive blog posts. You can read my thoughts on the first suggestion here.

The second suggestion is: As you integrate ignorance and failure into your knowledge and success, do the same with all the alien parts of yourself.

What I hear him say is that each of us is a complex individual, with lightness and darkness within. A friend of mine talks to me about black holes, something I know very little about. As I understand it, the boundary between so called normal universe and a black hole is called the event horizon.

That is just about the most poetic description of an edge that I have ever heard. When I heard Parker Palmer speak of the alien parts of me, I saw the event horizon before my eyes. It’s within me. Light. Shadow. Both exist, and are invaluable to me. And we can only ever know ourselves, if we acknowledge and cherish all parts of ourselves. It’s along the edges where magic happens, where light and shadow meet.

So when we utilize our full self, with light and shadow both, there is no end to what we can accomplish. That’s how the impossible becomes possible. And when we dare to see both our light and our shadow, our power is increased. Have you claimed and named your shadow?

Showing up is a choice

How do you show up in the world? What’s the energy you bring with you, into that which you are, and that which you do? It’s interesting that, how energy shows up, how the feeling behind the words matter so much, often more than the words themselves.

I stumbled upon a quote by Marianne Williamson the other day about this:

Marianne Williamson

Marianne Williamson is also the lady behind these words (wrongly attributed to Nelson Mandela), which you may have seen before:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

I am getting to know myself, light and darkness alike, and find it interesting to ponder the way I do show up in the world. When do I let my light shine? When am I immersing myself in my darkness? And what difference does it make for you and the rast of the world, in how I show up, when I come from light versus darkness?

I don’t know. Or rather, I know how it feels within me. I know what the difference is, to me, for when I come from the light vs darkness within me. Now, I actually believe there is a great deal to learn from both those sides of me. Both, by the way, makes it sound like I have one light and one dark side within, when it’s likely millions of sides within me, constituting my light, and my darkness. Constantly shifting, evolving, moving. Sometimes expanding. Sometimes shrinking.

Showing upBut all the time, whether expanding or shrinking, influencing how I show up in the world. And that’s just it. I want to show up, as I am, in any given moment. Nowadays it’s more rare for me to try to pose, put on a show, act as something which I am not. It happens though. And it’s very familiar to me, since it’s something I’ve struggled a lot with.

You see, I used to believe that my worth lay in the fact that you liked me and believed I was knowledgeable. That’s why I pretended to know everything. Putting on a show of being in the know, even when I wasn’t.

Now, less and less. It still happens, probably on a daily basis if I’m being honest. But it’s no longer my default mode, pretending to know. Because really – I don’t. There’s so much I don’t know, and today, that doesn’t frighten me the way it used to. Because that’s what that show was all about. My fear of not being worthy. Believing my worth lay outside of me.

That’s no longer the place I come from. It’s no longer how I show up. And I enjoy it, but it’s also very uncomfortable at times, let me tell you. Sometimes I really want to let rip unto the world, some injustice I believe have been done unto me. But many times, that urge quickly falls away, because that’s also something which I’ve gotten better at, namely to act, rather than react.

Hm. Perhaps that’s the biggest factor in how I show up in the world today, now that I come to think of it. I act. Much more deliberately.

That might sound as if it’s even more of an act I put on by being deliberate, but really – no, I think it’s the opposite. Because by giving myself that pause, that moment to look at where I am coming from, I am neither slave to light nor darkness within me. I get to chose how to show up in the world. And so do you. Ever given it any thought?

Oh captain, my captain!

Woke up, checked Twitter and saw a tweet about the death of Robin Williams. Hoped I had misunderstood so I googled but unfortunately, it was not a bizarre joke, but fact.

In honour of this great actor, we’re gathered in the living room in front of Dead Poet Society. Have only watched the first part, but already a favourite line of mine has been spoken:

In my class you will learn to think for yourselves!

Robin Williams was an amazing actor, and several of his movies have touched me deeply in several ways. I remember watching DPS when it was released, and as so many millions of others, loving it. The amazing actor was the part of Robin Williams that I witnessed, but as with each and every one of us, there was more to him, just as there is to us all. We all hold both light and darkness within us.

When life is shining brightly within me, the darkness seems so far away, but really, those two states of mind are just a thought away, aren’t they? And they are neutral, in their origin…. but we make it not be so, unfortunately. We judge the light to be good, something to strive for, a token of success and happiness. The darkness is bad, unworthy of us, a failure. Something to hide, shy away from, avoid at all cost.

At all costs…. and sometimes at too high a price.

Why must it be so? Why do we judge light and darkness thus? What would it take for me, for you, for us, for society, to hold it all, with no – or at least less – judgement? Would that make a difference? Would we then be able to face both light and darkness with less fear? Because both those parts scares us, do they not?

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Oh captain, my captain, may you rest in peace.