Monthly Archives: April 2013

I am willing to feel great!

Scatter Joy

“With excitement comes possibility, the prospect of unprecedented joy I can generously scatter.”

“This too shall pass” is one of my favorite phrases, because I’ve found it to be very, very true. In good times and bad (and everything between), remembering impermanence helps me appreciate, or at least tolerate, the present.

But what if I could always feel okay? For that matter, what if I could always feel good? Or, dare I say it…great?

A YouTube video by Brian Johnson has me seriously considering the possibility. In the video, Brian neatly summarizes The Big Leap, a book by Gay Hendricks that, among other topics, addresses the issue of upper limits.

I learned about what Gay calls “upper limits” back when I read Conscious Loving several years ago, and I’ve been pushing past them ever since.

Basically, an upper limit is a glass ceiling of my own creation, a limiting belief that prevents progress. These limits keep me comfortable, but they also hold me back.

For a long time I was afraid to feel good. This sounds silly to me now, but it also makes sense: feeling good was unfamiliar, and I feared the unfamiliar.

Of course there’s nothing wrong with fear, it’s just not often helpful. But you know what is? Breathing. Love.

“Fear is excitement without the breath,” according to Fritz Perls (via Gay Hendricks via Brian Johnson). This may be my new favorite quote, as it resonates with truth straight to the core of my breath-loving belly.

When I breathe into my fear, it fades. And as I learn to let love’s light dissipate the darkness of fright, I learn to welcome the unfamiliar with open curiosity, even with excitement.

And with excitement comes possibility, the prospect of unprecedented joy I can generously scatter.

In the video, Brian recounts an anecdote from The Big Leap:

Apparently when steam-powered trains were a new thing in the nineteenth century, scientists and other thought leaders wanted to cap the maximum speed the trains would be allowed to travel. “They were convinced that human bodies would explode at speeds greater than thirty miles per hour,” Brian says. “How funny is that? Thankfully some brave souls went for it…”

Thankfully, indeed! Can you imagine if no one had breathed through their fears?

It might seem absurd to consider society stuck at 30 mph, but Brian says Gay thinks “we’re at essentially the same place in our own development, in terms of how much goodness we can sustain, how much bliss we can endure, how great we’re willing to feel.”

I’m excited to find out.

Bravely blossoming

The onset of NYC spring feels like the epitome of ambivalence. Day after day I wonder: heavy coat or light jacket, boots or flats, umbrella or not?

But it’s more than just my outerwear that fluctuates. My attitude seems unsure as well, a familiar toggle between safe and brave that feels accentuated by the chill in the air and the promise of new life.

“Go ahead and take a risk,” the buoyant breeze seems to say, even as rainclouds frown and suggest I stay inside.

The truth is I’m feeling overwhelmed with possibility and potential, and please note I’m not complaining. Rain or shine I trust in what’s to come; I just wish my circumstances were more certain.

And to some extent, of course they are: I am certain I am cared for, I am certain I am breathing. I am certain I am trying daily, and I’m certain of both failure and success.

On a recent visit to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, I learned a few things about plants. Most of the landscape was still brown, plenty of bare branches and empty bushes.

In early April, a lot of land still looks barren.

In early April, a lot of land still looks barren.

Those plants know it’s not yet safe to blossom—a cold snap could still come and kill, and so it’s wise to wait.

But occasionally I saw bursts of color that delighted me. I felt connected to these flowers, bravely blooming without guarantee of survival. They boldly risked the wrath of winter to show their true colors, and, it seemed, they paved the way for their fellows to follow.

blossom 1

Some plants are carelessly colorful!

That’s not how it really works, my friend frankly informed me. The flowering plants bloom sooner because they’re not native to the region; in their southern climates of origin it’s perfectly safe to open up so early.

In other words, they’re totally in danger, they just don’t know any better.

All right, so it was ignorance rather than boldness that caused the beauty I appreciated. And maybe it doesn’t make sense to personify plants—the facts definitely damage my metaphor—but the vision inspires me nonetheless.

Each day is different, and a cold snap could come, but I can blossom anyway. I can be bold, and choose brave over safe, just like love over fear, again and again, whenever I can.

And whatever the weather, I can wear my heart on my sleeve.