Much like the cactus pictured below, our past can be littered with thorns, a few beautiful flowers or moments of complete bliss, some stray dying grasses that have been blown into our path, obscuring the wonderful green and succulent richness we contain inside of us, and a dichotomy of light and darkness .
That said, I am one that tries to see beauty in the above photo as the cactus and the Indian paintbrushes, though so different from each other are living in harmony together. It almost seems as it the one Indian Paintbrush is leaning on the cactus for strength, despite it’s potentially getting hurt by a thorn.
So to is it with our own lives, that past experiences shape our psyche into what we are today, and we can choose to relive the hurtful thorny episodes, and to dwell upon them, or we can choose to lean on those thorns and know they were a means to shape us, to teach us and make us stronger. Let us not dwell on the past, as that day is gone, but remember the lessons learned and be thankful and grateful today for the place we reside in our hearts and spirit because of the past.
I will give an example of how as a child , I equivocated being loved by the amount of attention that was paid to me, by family, friends, boyfriends, etc. I have learned this lesson of the past, only by having children of my own, and realizing how easy the trap of surviving day-to-day can be for a mother . My own parents struggled with many problems in caring for and raising three children. I see that now, I understand that now. I have no harbored feelings anymore about feeling unloved, as I once did in my youth.
Was I given parents too occupied by the stresses of their everyday lives in providing for their children, sheltering us from knowing things we did not need to know as a child, etc. that in effect it caused me to emerge as a thoughtful, introverted creature? Was I given so much freedom to explore, to run the streets of my own accord , with minimal supervision, no smothering presence that tried to live their life through me, or that tried to manage my every waking minute, that I was allowed to blossom into my own independent self, able to think and make decisions on my own and develop an extraordinary sense of independence?
I saw how other parents were with their children, examples of such were many of my childhood best friends. I witnessed unrelenting controlling parents, that monitored their children’s every waking hour, dictated how each dish should be placed in a cupboard, how much of a food portion or a snack you could eat each day (regardless of whether they were rich or poor), what classes they should take in school, etc. My child and adolescent self thought that since my parents were not this way, that I was UNLOVED. I mistook LOVE by parents to mean that they overly engaged in my activities. How often our perceptions of our childhood are misperceptions ! How many years did it take for this knowledge of perceptions to finally go off in my head and I got my “AHA” moment?
As I touched on in the first blog post, I am thankful and grateful for all experiences in my life, for it these experiences that have shaped me into the person I am today. In my quest for “Love” as I defined it back then, I made it a point to excel in whatever endeavor I took part in. I was involved in Little League softball and played All Stars for many years, ran track (I was a fast runner!), Band, Edwards Literary Society, National Honor Society, Bowling team, Health Occupations Students of America, worked part-time in a work-study program at a local horse farm, took honors / advanced classes in English and History,and fancied myself a gymnast (even if it was only in my front yard)….all in attempts at proving to someone, anyone, that I was in fact lovable, “good enough”, and worthy of being noticed.
Granted, I had been a horrible tempered child, prone to tantrums and such. (I guess the Scorpio in me?) .. I was reminded over and over throughout the years of my “badness” and horrible temper. I was the youngest of all the cousins, therefore often the brunt of jokes or teasing as most younger kids are. To this day, I have a strong aversion to any bullying type behavior probably due in part to being a victim of this in my youth. But let me speak again, that I hold no anger or bitterness about my past experiences, because those experiences helped shape me into what I feel I am today – a wonderfully kind and giving spirit, that seeks justice and truth, that fights for the underdog, that has high aspirations and dreams and an ideology of how the world can be a much, much, much, more kinder place.
Kind of on the same vein of past remembrances, I have been dismayed at the amount of my past that I do not remember at all. Our senses, however, can sometimes pull a memory from us that we once “forgot”, our senses… so keen, are linked so strongly to our memories that a smell, a certain touch, a sound, etc. can bring back a flood of memories. How our minds try to protect us by burying deep those images that haunt us. Of loves past that did not end the way we imagined, of dreams spoken and then shattered by careless words or actions of someone we love , of deeds we have done ourselves, seemingly overtaken by a demon possessed of our bodies for brief moments in time. (Did I REALLY do those things? To my dismay – I did.)
The more I age, the more I see how the darkness in the world operates in order to try to squelch those with a bright inner light. I have over the years accumulated hundreds of books on theology, studied various religions and their histories. I have continually searched for the light of goodness in what we call God, and tried to walk the path of “doing the right thing”, and following the basic tenets of any religion that is based on love, sharing, and being helpful to others when we can.
I found that the more I sought to understand things, the more fierce my battle with evilness in this world became, in all various forms of “attacks”. Evil will try to envelope the soul and spirit in order to keep its bright light from shining in this world. This I know is true for me. I just recently read that the soul and spirit are two separate things. I once believed that they were synonymous. The Spirit is what hungers , that strives for perfection, strives to understand to what end we all belong. So what is the Souls purpose? To house our spirit and give it a home in our earthly body on this plane of existence.
I know that I can never surrender my Spirit, to anything but the Truth as it has been shown to me. I also understand that others have different truths than my own. I respect and am not frightened by those that think different from myself. I am at ease, like the cactus and Indian paintbrush pictured above, I can lean on my thorny brother, who looks different from me, is a little prickly, but I know contains inside of him sweetness and sustenance. Let us all take a moment in these times, to reflect on how we all depend on one another through various channels, and if we were all the same how horribly boring life would be.