“Be willing to be a beginner every single morning.”
– Meister Eckhart
Last May, I gathered with five other people around a table in our town's library conference room. We have met together for years to channel the Natalie Goldberg writing muse and express what's in our minds and hearts. This session, we explored the virtue of willingness and each of us wrote about it in an unrestrained, unconscious manner. Our pens scribbled rapidly across paper for ten minutes and then we looked up, read what came out of this precious free time, and marveled at how coherent and refreshing everyone's efforts turned out to be.
Today, I remembered May 21st while reading a blog about the 12 Steps of Alcoholic Anonymous - the program that helps me and so many others, but only if we are willing to admit our defects and heal ourselves. His helpful essay reminded me of what our group wrote about and discussed. My scribbles resonate right now.
I am Willing to Let Go
Being willing is one of the most powerful and game-changing concepts I've ever struggled with. This simple word has released me from the insidious and destructive thinking of perfectionism. For years, I feared failure. I avoided criticism by stifling creativity. Instead, lacking the courage to work on my own creations, I supported the creative efforts of others, and missed out on the necessary criticism, corrections and do-overs that build knowledge and skill. Living within this cocoon of self-imposed exile masquerading as a comfort zone, is stagnation, even visiting it from time to time drags me down. In time, though, the real world always barges in. Real troubled family and friends ask for help. Real alcoholics, addicts, enablers, and angry co dependents tear down the image I have of myself and teach me humility, compassion, and an acceptance that perfection is irrelevant. Safety and security are temporary gifts. True clarity and purpose will happen if I have a plan with a yardstick and the desire to work hard on it. These teachers are relentless and thorough and once I become willing to do the work, to let go of fear and anxiety, opportunities for creative self expression show up. I'd like to say that I've learned to be willing to relax and be "happy" about all of this, but I have discovered a healthy dose of fear, shame, guilt, and insecurity will always be in my life. The real deciding factor, however, is what I am willing to accept and what I let go. This daily decision making keeps me in the flow of life. Sometimes I swim. Sometimes I float. Most of the time I paddle like hell to get to enjoy another day.
May all beings know love and peace, one day at a time.