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The Whys... All The Difference In The World

by Adrienne Metcalf

Sometimes I see the world as a tired old place with unsolvable merry-go-rounds of dynamics that at these 50 some years have lost their allure. I often choose to sit out the ride and watch others with mild amusement. I add a chip to my growing tower of cynicism and disappointment, primarily in myself. Don’t get me wrong; the idealism is in there somewhere, the dreams of making a difference. But now, like some spent relay runner, I just look to the indigo children, count another wrinkle, sip my tequila and say I did my part. Maybe I was wrong in believing; it’s up to them now.

This is a comfortable, dirty, old, easy chair; worn from the multitudes of generations before me. They grew to some age of knowing, felt powerless to change things in themselves or the world and handed the gauntlet with all love and hope - or dismay, frustration and regret - to their grandchildren and the generations of the future. Here you go sonny, you take the world for a spin and see if you can change its course. Rising and retreating in the endless waves of human hopes, inching forward and yet never beyond the teeter totter experience of polarized dynamics. And this old world has spun on the axis’s of polarization for long enough.

At a recent workshop we produced - a juicy one at Winter Solstice time - my chair got less easy. The workshop tackled SHADOW; reclaiming lost pieces of self, disarming their power to scare and ensnare us; seeing and owning the good, the bad and the ugly. Shadow is a powerful experience and yet one of the God almighty scariest things to come out of the workshop was a searing, surprise realization. We 50 something folks are needed.

One of the participants, a silent, faintly trembling 22 year old girl, believed that it was perfectly inevitable that Bush won the last elections. Not because she believed in G.W., because she didn’t believe in basic rightness. She did not know, eat, breathe, wake and sleep to the air that circulated the earth in the days of the Kennedy’s, Martin Luther King, feminism, civil rights, social services, human compassion. She had no reference point for basic human dignity and caring. She trembled with the fear that the world IS this way… and her world is.

No personal indictment of the girl or her family. Born in 1984, she was sensitive, keenly aware and as bright as a whip. She knew what was right, but didn’t think it possible. Starting life 4 years into Ronnie Raygun’s term, 4 years into the ME years, 4 years into the final movement of humanity in this long pendulum swing into individuation…the movement away from passion and then in the 80’s even away from compassion… she was lost. The realization of her depth of loss ignited the room into a froth of history we over 50’s remembered. We showered her with recounted proofs that her world is a temporary aberration. She could hardly believe that people had once been decent. I know humanity is basically good, this country is basically good, and it will turn out all right. She doesn’t. It stunned us. Despite our ever-growing burden of disappointment in the world, we know the truth of us.

Well so much for handing over the baton, grey hair and the entitlement of age or not. No matter how fast the runner, if they haven’t a visceral clue as to where they’re going….

Most of my metaphysical life has been spent discovering the wounds, licking them, healing them, re-injuring myself and healing the wounds at a greater depth. I’ve learned; oh, the depths of learning. Then comes teaching; cajoling others to do the same in some lemming like indescribable movement forward called growth. Finally enough is enough.

I know that if tears are rising in another, or myself, our inner child is present. If anger, rage – and particularly righteous anger - is at the fore, the inner defensive adolescent is lurking. Hell no, they are driving the car. I’ve been around the track enough to know if I’m scared. my child is at play. If my child is driving, it’s not too long before my adolescent comes up to protect her in the most ineffective ways, often re-creating the very thing that most frightens the child. If I’m raging, righteously stubborn, underneath it all is hiding a fear. Around and around on the merry-go-round, fear, anger, fear, anger.

Somewhere at the bottom of this predictable downward spiral is a replay of the profound loss, abandonment or wrong that first wounded the child, or worse, the infant, setting a pattern for life. Rising and retreating, changing little, reliving the past.

The Shadow workshop spiraled too. Around and around we went, into the hurts, the hidden angers, the hidden fears, the locked compartments that held so much power, so many agendas. If we leaned toward the angry polarized face, the shadowed fearful piece was an unwelcome “weak” disability. If we usually faced the world from the fearful persona, the rage filled inner antagonist was down right terrifying. “Who me?”

While the knowing that the power hidden in the raging self would balance out the weakness of the scared self, and the “do the right thing, behave” aspect of the child self would rein in the raging behavior; holding both aspects, so often polarized, was just not enough. Something profound was needed as we squirmed in our metaphysical nakedness.

Forgiveness. Oh that again. I did that last year. No. Real forgiveness that doesn’t compromise one iota of my being. Forgiveness that allows me to hang out with my past offenders, abusers and victims in relative safety and with authentic compassion. Forgiveness that FREES. Forgiveness that allows me to hang out with myself in relative safety and trust. OK. I’ll forgive harder. No. That’s forgiveness coming from the head, which is a detour into delusion. If it is real forgiveness, things change, the heart heals. OK. I’ll go to some holy mountain retreat center and spend a weekend forgiving them all. No. Usually forgiveness boils down to forgiving self, for allowing “it” to happen in the first place. OK. I don’t really know how to forgive. Finally. The space for learning something truly new opened.

WHAT was done to many of us was unforgivable. Plain and simple. What is happening in the world today, right under our nose and in our name, is unforgivable. Some of the things we’ve done… even yesterday… are unforgivable. Round and round, guilt, anger, fear, shame.

WHY it was done, why we did what we did, is forgivable. Here the heart can stand. Here compassion is nourished. Here the injustices are still injustices, wrong and not denied. Here are the other person’s shoes. Here is a beginning to healing so profoundly permanent, so user friendly, so equalizing and humanizing as to make all the difference in the world.

I don’t have to ask myself to forgive what was done to me… what I have done to others. I can forgive why it was done and MOVE ON. ‘Why’ our abusers, betrayers and abandoners did what they did – usually because it was done to them. There is a world of 20 something’s out there, on the cusp of inheriting a global transformation whether we like it or not. We are their compass. Age in this age of transformation doesn’t have to lead to the dull, worn easy chair. It can lead to the ‘whys’.

So either we curl up in the disgust and dust of a crumbling world and come back another time to try again…or get off our ‘buts’, look to the ‘whys’ and watch as life becomes lit with hope, connected by compassion and a journey worth having taken to become wise.

Adrienne Metcalf is co-owner of Berkshire Soul & Spirit Center in Lee, MA and EJA Magical Journeys. EJA Magical Journeys presents workshops in Conscious Reality Creation and Humanity’s Transformation. She may be reached through the Soul & Spirit Center at 413-243-2834 - www.SoulandSpiritCenter.com and www.ejamagic.com.

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