Sunday, August 1, 2010
Don't get hurt....
A few years ago I went on a trip to Hawaii, it was amazing (I mean, really, however cliched Hawaii is, how can it not be amazing???) Anyway, on this trip I ended up jumping off of a 35 foot cliff, which I thought would be a great way to overcome fears, and have an incredible Hawaii moment. What ended up happening though, was, me hitting the water in a sitting position, and spending the next 24 hours or so lying on my stomach and begging for someone to euthanize me, because I was sure that death was the only release from the suffering. What made the pain worse was the realization that it was a direct result of my stupidity. Who jumps off of a 35 foot cliff??? Granted everyone else had done it with no problem (if all your friends jumped off a cliff would you do that too!??!). This was a time in my life where I started realizing that maybe fear was a warning and instead of overcoming it, I should embrace the fear, so that I would never have to suffer like that again....Unfortunately I applied that to other areas in my life besides jumping off cliffs!
I have always been a bit emotionally reserved, walling off a portion of my heart, so that I wouldn't get hurt by people. At times this policy has served me well, but I'm not sure that it is the best way to experience life. When I went to Africa, I decided not to hold anything back in my relationships with people, I wanted to meet people where they were and accept them, and allow myself to love them without reservation. I decided that even though I only had 2 months I was going to open myself up, knowing that I was exposing myself to the pain that comes with separation. I definitely don't regret that decision. It was for sure one of the most amazing experiences of my life, and even though when I left it felt like physical pain, I don't look back on that time with sadness. Instead I feel like the love that I felt for the people there has multiplied, even though I miss them, when I look at pictures of them I mostly feel joy.
For a long time I felt like I had a finite amount of capacity to love in my heart, and that if I allowed myself to love and get hurt I would lose that love permanently. What I have learned is that pain can be valuable, even if you allow yourself to love and get hurt there are lessons to be learned. Pain is...well....um, painful, but it doesn't have to last forever, and at the end of pain there are usually rewards.
So, besides overcoming the fear of the unknown, allowing myself to embrace adventures and take risks, I am allowing myself to break down that wall in my heart, in every area of my life, including my work. The thing is, I haven't ever heard anyone say they wished they had loved less, even the most painful situations in my life are things I've learned from. I think if the choice is between experiencing great joy with love and the risk of pain, or living safely embracing fear, and not experiencing pain, but missing out on that great joy, I would choose love. So, that's my goal...choose love without reservation. I have been warned by well meaning people not to get hurt, but pain is inevitable, and I think the pain of regret is the least rewarding. I hope that in 50 years I am warning young people not to hold back, to always choose love, to embrace pain and learn from it. I also hope 50 years from now I am still smokin' hot, and using a jet pack as my primary means of transportation :) I'll leave you with a pic of Grammie Bissell, who is most definitely still smokin' hot at 86!