It isn't easy for me to talk about vulnerability. I have spent way too much time being 'strong' and pushing forward through life to have developed any grace around the subject. But today I am sitting in the painful discomfort of it, cracked wide open, raw and exposed.
I have a tendency to leap into the unknown, often without a net to catch me. And for the most part, I have gotten pretty good at picking myself up and forging ahead into the next unknown.
But sometimes, the crash landing is so severe I end up a shattered mess - a thousand broken pieces splayed out all over the place.
It is true what they say, "the higher you jump, the harder you fall". I jumped really high this weekend, I took on a leadership role that stretched me to the edges of my comfort zone and left me feeling completely ripped apart.
Pretty sure I've navigated my whole life this way. My mother says that the first time I saw a pool (it was an Olympic size swimming pool, I wasn't even a year old and had no idea how to swim), I ran straight for the deep end and jumped in.
I still jump into the deep end of life but the landing isn't quite as forgiving and my mother isn't there to rescue me from the depths. Instead, I am left to gather up all my broken bits and figure out how to piece them back together, one sharp edge at a time.
My greatest lessons come to light in this mess.
Just like the Japanese art of Kintsugi, which brings light to the scars that have come from life's experiences by bonding broken pottery with gold, illuminating the breaks rather than masking them. I too have been pieced back together, more times than I can count, my scars map the story of my life, giving me my strength, character, and the courage to continue moving forward.
But today, I sit here shattered, and I ask myself; what led me to this place, and how do I move forward from here?
A bottle of wine and some dark chocolate feel like a good way forward but... I've learned that even though wine may soften the edges, it will also dim the light that guides the way towards the hidden jewels within my heart.
Instead, I sit and I listen. I listen for the whispers that rise up from deep inside, telling me softly to surrender and look again at what I thought to be true. I see how little I know and how far I have yet to go. I see the work that has yet to be done and I see the strength that will be required. It paralyses me. So I sit, and I listen.
Patiently, the little jewels of wisdom wait. They wait for just the right moment, to rise from the depths. They wait for reverence. They wait for grace.
I call on my sisters and brothers to meet me in the ache of this moment, I call to be held. This, is what carries me through - the unconditional loving of my deepest friendships. This is what shakes my reverence awake.
I allow the teachings to unravel one by one; humility, acceptance of what is, forgiveness for what was and loving kindness for what is emerging.
I haven't found the words to describe the alchemy that transpires when I surrender and soften to the tenderness of my aching heart. It reminds me of that stage in childbirth, referred to as transition, when you move from labouring to pushing. Everything gets disjointed and confused, all you can do is breathe and pray. But it always passes, it is just a moment or maybe a hundred moments all strung together. They all pass, eventually. And the profound beauty of surviving and emerging through that stage is near transcendent.
When you've travelled through your own pain enough times, you begin to remember the rewards that are always waiting for you on the other side. There is always another side. There is always a way through. I would like to say that the journey gets easier but it hasn't for me. It gets more familiar, and there's a sweetness in the realness of it - a beauty to the rawness. But there is also an unavoidable pain laced into the transformation.
Cynthia Occelli describes this process perfectly, "For a seed to achieve it's greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn't understand growth, it would look like complete destruction."
But like the phoenix that rises from the ashes, it is just a step, a part of the journey. We break so that we can be reborn, and experience the sweet relief that comes with the expansion of our beings into a stronger, more beautiful version of ourselves.
AYLA NEREO - EASTERN SUN