Monthly Archives: August 2018

Year of Self Compassion #32 #co-existence

The daffodils are blooming and the fig tree is liberated from leaves. The landscape is offering me an invitation to see co-existence. My emotions are at war. There are days when I cannot reconcile or integrate memories and feelings for the future without sadness and re-wiring.

In a week with plenty of ups and downs that included tyres on my car being slashed, I find coexistence, an act of self-compassion. With the tyres unable to hold the air, the car needing to be towed, new tyres needed and a whole re-adjustment and realignment for the vehicle, the irony was not lost on me!  It is not so easy with a human body, as it is for a mechanical one to transition.  My friend tells me Mercury is in retrograde, and a young woman I encounter tells me the Lion’s Gate is open – both with equal confidence to help explain these set of circumstances. I totally accept the cosmic drama surrounding me and operating with no regard to anything I am or am not doing – the daffodil flowering is enough evidence for me.

Buds are detailing the fig, and visible life will burst forth when the weather agrees and accepts the kiss of the sun’s rays, life was always there though, whether or not I could see it in the empty branch. The wild winds of winter and crashing broken boughs in the night in the garden leave some creatures homeless and foraging quickly for new places … they just get up and move on … an easeful response to the disruption that leaves me envious.  I long to have a tow truck come and pick me up, take me for new tyres, leave the slashed parts behind for recycling that I have nothing to do with and send me on my way slightly renewed and with confidence of being able to stay on the road safely. Instead I meander and get lost in my thoughts, speed through intersections I should stop at and take in the view, get distracted and go down rabbit holes instead of focussing on what is right in front of me – spring getting ready to show herself.

I have emotions of grief finding themselves alongside excitement and potential; moments of paralysing fear alongside epic bravery; occasions of emptiness as deep and hollow as anyone could endure alongside enriching and broad expressions of generosity. In this field trying to integrate is not working and the landscape is inviting me to respect and allow the diversity of states to co-exist. Integration is not possible. I am not even sure integration is desirable, allowing all the feelings to be respected and have their own integrity, without having to vie for a place in the emotional landscape may end this interior civil war.

Letting my emotions co-exist instead of them trying to organise them or unite or harmonise them, is an act of self-compassion.  They all have a right to be there, all have their place in this field I am in right now, each have to find their own way to loose their leaves, bud, regenerate, fall in the wind. This calls for mutual inclusion and dignity for all the feelings.

I am reminded of Rumi who writes of the rumour of winter being over. While it is not over for me, I am beginning to lean into the possibility of spring.

For the music we are – Rumi

Did you hear that winter’s over?
The basil and the carnations
cannot control their laughter.

The nightingale, back from his wandering,
has been made singing master over the birds.

The trees reach out their congratulations.
The soul goes dancing through the king’s doorway.

Anemones blush
because they have seen the rose naked.

Spring, the only fair judge, walks in the courtroom,
and several December thieves steal away,
Last year’s miracles will soon be forgotten.

New creatures whirl in from non-existence,
galaxies scattered around their feet.
Have you met them?

Do you hear the bud of Jesus crooning in the cradle?
A single narcissus flower has been appointed
Inspector of Kingdoms.

A feast is set.
Listen: the wind is pouring wine!
Love used to hide inside images: no more!
The orchard hangs out its lanterns.
The dead come stumbling by in shrouds.

Nothing can stay bound or be imprisoned.
You say, “End this poem here,
and wait for what’s next.”

I will.
Poems are rough notations
for the music we are.



Winter morning at Tatachilla


Year of Self Compassion #31 #scarcity

Having an experience of scarcity seems like an indulgent first world problem to me and yet I go tripping down that rabbit warren more than I have for a long time. Having downsized my life in most ways in the last year, not all at my own hand, I often catch myself wanting.  I recall my economics classes where the lesson that resources are finite, and an insatiable appetite for growth featured regularly.  This economic equation keeps revisiting me at so many levels, practical, spiritual, meta physical.  I want more – one last conversation, one last kiss, one last meal. I want less – one less speeding fine, one less demand, one less choice.

The invitation to simplicity is one giant mathematical computation of complexity that results in an overwhelming sense of a sum zero game that I never asked to play.  This see-saw of being grateful for what I have and feeling a paucity of intimacy is quite exhausting. The ups and downs of the see-saw are grief on her ride through me and the interior landscapes I traverse. Many of these lands are new to me, and some I keep revisiting looking for meaning and magic to unlock and hold memories, hoping the voyage of this Dawn Treader will come to shore soon to rest and find me in a safe habour.   I know I am in a safe habour all the time and I do have enough of all that I need. Yet …

There are triggers all around that sneak up and remind me of scarcity. I see couples making plans for a life together and I want to warn them how it will all end. I hear the dog barking next door, wearing himself out waiting for his family to come home and his loneliness grows and then dissipates giving up just before they arrive. I feel the ash, and am infused with the smell of the fire from the broken limbs fallen from the wild winds the night before, that I have made into a little hearth in the back yard, and I think about the differences between being buried and cremated. (How does carbon get stored and released?) That leads me to think about land, the scarcity of it, my carbon footprint, the legacy I leave by all my actions. This is not living abundantly, my scarcity lens is keeping me from fullness and it refuses to leave me and contributing to a feeling of self-indulgence.

Theologians and economists have always found abundance and scarcity a point of difference. I think the root of the challenge to get this balance right, lies somewhere in gratitude, generosity and hope. Being generous is a sign of abundance, my biggest currency has always been time and now I realise how finite time is and I am making more choices with me at the middle of the equation, again a new landscape and one where I am yet to master. Being grateful is a practice and I am trying to be agnostic about what I am grateful for, everything can be appreciated and received with kindness. This practice seems to be woven with respect and recognition, actually being able to notice the gift however unseemly wrapped it comes to me. Hope offers potential to shape what will come next and to be an actor in that future without letting the scarcity filter, is a daily exercise in my inner life gym.

In this year of self-compassion, I am struggling to replace scarcity with abundance which has been my default for so long. Privileges I took for granted or worse, hadn’t even noticed I had. These privileges are now inviting me to pivot, flipping abundance for  scarcity, There are invitations waiting for me to find the wealth within, the freedom of less and joy of simplicity.  I will try not to shame myself too much for defining this feeling of scarcity as a first world problem, as it is teaching me to be more mindful, more conscious of my consumption of all kinds of things from air time to fossil fuels. To be more gentle on myself and grateful for all the times I have been generous and how that disposition is one of the key reasons for the depth of the wound. After all something that is scarce is also rare and therefore usually incredibly precious and perhaps that is the clue to the relationship between abundance and scarcity – the rare space that one creates for the other.


Photo by Sam Soffes on Unsplash