When my world gets turned upside down in an instant, I often go into a fog where I exist in what I like to call “emergency disaster mode,” that way of being where you put one foot in front of the other and do what must be done to get through the present trauma, whatever that made be. My family loves and often hearkens back to Mignon McLaughlin’s words, “the only courage that matters is the kind that gets you from one moment to the next.” And then as the fog starts to lift, you see that the world around you has continued spinning in your absence and that life goes on.
I marvel at the resilience of children. They often have moments of deep emotional torrent – be it a desperate tantrum or facing a truly awful situation. In the case of the tantrum, they can go from the depths of their perceived despair to a light and happy disposition literally from one second to the next. In facing genuinely devastating or painful experiences, even if it takes a bit of time, they so often move forward with a joyful Grace that appears to have given them wings. It seems to me that they must understand on some level that life goes on.
It’s not that children don’t feel their hurt fully and genuinely in the moment. I so believe they do. But as we get older and have been hurt more by the world and perhaps understand that hurt more deeply, it becomes hard to let the hurt go. Self-preservation kicks in, and rightly so, and we do what we must to protect our hearts. But might it be possible to be present with the hurt, to experience it, acknowledge it, feel it with every fiber – and then release it into the spinning world?
Okay, so this can be so. hard. to. do. I certainly haven’t found the magic wings children seem to have. I wonder if it’s because their hearts are so very open. Like how a little one will walk straight up to you and share whatever happens to running across their sweet brains in that moment. Because it wouldn’t occur to them that you wouldn’t be interested, not because they are arrogant but because they are reaching out to connect with you and why wouldn’t you want to share in that moment with them? I love the beautifully random things wee ones share because the moment is there. I love peacocks!
My friend Brandon once said, “May we have the courage to wholeheartedly engage all parts of our story.” This went straight to my heart, and I wrote it down and keep it on my refrigerator so I can be reminded of it every day. I think children and truly open-hearted people are able to engage all parts of their stories: feel each part deeply, be connected, but not let one part of the story dominate their beings. Because if we let one part dominate, at least for too long, we lose site of our whole story, we lose sight of the full being we are.
May we find the courage, from one moment to the next, to feel deeply with our whole hearts while never forgetting the lovely spinning world that invites us to jump in when we are ready.