"hold the sadness and pain of samsara in your heart and at same time the power and vision of the great eastern sun. then the warrior can make a proper cup of tea."
-chogyam trungpa rinpoche
i am preparing to travel.
for six weeks
to six cities
on two continents.
i leave in two days. i've been excited for months.
until yesterday. an uncomfortable feeling arose. multiple times.
each time, my brain concocted a story. within nanoseconds.
it went like this:
"you will feel lonely on this trip.
you will miss your boyfriend, your girlfriends and your family.
it will be painful.
your project will sputter and languish because
none of the women you meet will be interested at all.
you won't meet anybody who wants to talk with you,
let alone be photographed.
you will have at least three emotional breakdowns
- one in each foreign country -
and wish you had never left home.
you will miss seeing your niece turn seven months old,
and you'll regret it for the rest of your life.
your plants will all die because your neighbor won't remember to water them.
you'll return to a brown, dead landscape.
you'll run out of money.
there will be no paul mitchell hair mousse in europe,
so you'll have a bad hair day, every day."
and so on.
i tried to ignore the feeling,
but each time it came back.
and quickly then, thoughts came too, adding a hefty punch to the heart.
they expanded madly, leaving me feeling ungrounded.
wait - isn't that the same as flight? freedom?
yes. but it's also uncertainty.
which, of course, we all live with. all the time.
nothing is ever certain.
(but i like to pretend some things are.)
last night, looking for an antidote to the ungroundedness, i went to a late night full moon mandala yoga practice at the studio i love, seattle yoga arts. i sat in a circle with 20 other yogis and we moved our bodies, chanted to ganesha (the remover and placer of obstacles), breathed, and meditated.
in that grounded space, the discomfort came up again. strong.
it's basically: just witness the raw feeling
catch it before it has a chance to turn into a thought.
watch to see where and how it feels in the body.
no storyline. just sensation.
no judgement. just observation.
what i noticed first was my throat. it constricted. got tight. clenched. dry.
when this happened, my thoughts quickly went to the stories
about how i will be sad, and lonely.
thoughts move fast!
like little tasmanian devils.
in reaction to them, my chest and heart began to whimper,
which in turn caused more thoughts to want to arise
and tell me more sad and painful stories about my future...
"hush," came a warm, strong, soft voice.
from somewhere deep in my psyche.
things got quiet.
in the quietness i felt my throat, where the sensation stayed.
"throat chakra rules voice," i thought.
could the constriction here be fear of using my voice?
i am beginning to use my voice in a whole new and uncharted way.
it does feel shaky and tender sometimes.
i guess i am afraid.
i mean, what if i make a huge mistake?
what if i say the wrong thing?
what if i can't find words to say what is in my heart?
what if my photographs are awful?
what if no one even wants to be photographed?
what if i don't listen well enough?
what if my vision for this work turns out to be wrong?
what if i use my voice and people don't care,
or judge me an outcast,
or snicker from behind the veil of social media,
or shake their heads and think, "she's nuts."
now i see it. this feeling...
it's my old friend: fear.
i guess i've been expecting you.
it's good that you are here.
now we can have a proper cup of tea.
you are reminding me there is great sadness in the world,
in all of us.
there is pain.
there is suffering.
yes, yes there is.
what's that you say?
you believe i should let these feelings keep me from moving forward?
sorry, but i don't agree.
this finding out how women like me are moving into light,
it has roots in darkness, yes.
that fact must be acknowledged, respected, remembered.
but did you catch the title of my project?
it's about moving into light.
so you can argue with me all you want, fear.
but i'm going to keep moving toward that great eastern sun.
i suppose you'll tag along, too.
like you always do.
let's go pack.