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On Courageous Questing

Courageous questing… searching for the extraordinary that’s within “ordinary”.  What’s that mean, you ask?  What’s this blog all about?

Well, it’s my attempt to answer some questions I’ve been wondering about.  And to explore some territory that interests me:  What if, inside the ordinary lives we all feel we’re living, there’s something “extra”….

Image and quote re: none of us is ordinaryWhat if we’re actually living extraordinary lives, as the hero/ines of our own stories?

Oh no, I hear some of you say, that’s not me, my life’s too ordinary.

That used to be me too, thinking that way.  And then, my life got strange.

When I Heard This, I Was Stunned

About 20 years ago, I was at a workshop.  It was a shamanic weekend retreat.

And one day, the woman running it said something extraordinary.

Image and quote re: you really matter.She looked around the room keenly.  Lovingly.  At each of us in turn.  Then she said “You really matter.”  And she meant it.

She said more – about how each of us was unique, and irreplaceable, living on the planet.  That no one else could do what each of us came here to do.  That we each have an utterly unique contribution to make.

I felt stunned.  Honestly.

She had me, at “You really matter”.  It was how she said it that allowed it to really sink in.  She really meant it.  She said it with such deep loving.  I’d actually never had that thought, that feeling before.  It connected to something deep inside me.

It was a “wake-up call”.  Another step, a significant one, on my own awakening journey…

The Power of Yes!

Well, and life has just kept getting more interesting, since then.

Image and quote re: just say yesA few years ago, I had a New Year’s conversation with a friend.  He said he’d decided to “just say yes” to whatever life brought his way.  That sounded fascinating to me.  So I said I was gonna try that on too… “just say yes”.

It’s been my guiding principal ever since then.  And has led me into some pretty interesting explorations.  Stuff I never would have been able to think of, or make up myself.  Possibilities beyond my imagination….

Deepening into Radical Acceptance

Turns out, life is far more interesting when I just accept what happens, rather than living in resistance to it.  Old pattern, that resistance, from when I was a young child.

Image and quote about tenacityMy parents called it “stubborn-ness”… One of my sisters once called it “selfishness”.

The closest I could get to understanding it was this: I used to think of it as wanting to live life on my terms.  Not wanting to be bound or limited by others’ definitions or expectations of me.

These days, I see it a bit differently (though the essence of it is still the same).

I now think of it as needing to have more of me seen and recognized, than was happening when I was growing up.

Somehow, even when I was really small, I had a sense that there was more to me than my parents or others were seeing.  More than even I knew or saw.

Since I didn’t feel much of my essential self was “seen” when I was a child, I learned that that’s just life.  So I learned to “not-see” parts of me too.  Parts that didn’t feel OK… that were somehow unacceptable… Unacceptable first to others.  And then to me.  And I’ve been on a journey ever since, looking for the bits of me that I’ve cast aside…

So when I say, “needing to have more of me seen and recognized’… I mean by me!  This feels like stepping into unknown territory for me – it’s my own hunt for my own extra-ordinary within… after a lifetime of having learned to see me the way my parents and others did… I’m finding there’s a lot more to me than that!  But it’sbeen one stp at a time, reclaiming those cast-off bits of me…

Beginning to See The “Extra” that’s Hiding Within the Ordinary

When I became old enough to “choose” a way of working in the world, I chose to be a therapist (well, actually, as it turned out, being a therapist chose me as much as the other way around.  But that’s a story for another time).

And as a result, I’ve had the opportunity to meet a number of people, with whom I was privileged to work.  People who were utterly extraordinary.  Oh sure, they came in my door looking very “ordinary” – stressed out with life’s challenges.  Mostly really stressed out, by the time I got to see them.

Image and quote on extraordinary.But as I got to know them, I got to see how un-ordinary they were.  I began to see the extraordinary that was longing to be seen and acknowledged within them.

As they shared their stories with me, stories which felt pretty oppressive and smallifying (I know, I just made that word up 🙂 ), I began to see this same pattern, over and over again.  Infinite juicy variations on the same theme…

Their struggles were really about living smaller stories than they really were.  And the excruciating pain was about them, busting to find a way to release themselves from the confines of their smallness-story.

“What’s It All About, Alphie?”

We none of us grew up (as near as I can figure out) in a culture that promoted our inner greatness, the source of what’s light and truly miraculous within each of us.

Image and quote re life's biggest tragedyInstead, the people I’ve known at least (including me), grew up in families which were stressed by daily life.  Raised by our parents, who’d grown up with their parents, who hadn’t see their inner extraordinariness either.  Because their parents hadn’t seen theirs either.  Near as I can figure out, this goes back a l-o-o-o-o-ng way.  So how could our parents possibly have seen our inner brilliance?

And we were educated in a system that taught us to comply, to fit in quietly somewhere.  To answer the questions we were asked.  To learn what to think, rather than how to think.  And to prove that we’d “gotten it” by regurgitating it back, on tests and in the assignments we were given… And upon which we were “graded”.  In other words, overall, to not create waves.  To live within the confines of “ordinary”.

(I say this with apologies to the excellent teachers who are out there, trying to live beyond the dictates of this educational “system”, and to teach kids other skills than these mainstream systemic ones.  I know you’re out there.  Even so, don’t get me started about the overall lack of “special education” for all students… that’d be a long one, a major rant.  It too is another story for another time).

Image and quote re no such thing as ordinaryThe people I’ve worked with taught me that life’s more than that little ordinariness.

Their struggles, and mine, have been about trying to live healthily, in a culture that’s disconnected from our own inner resources… from our intuitive, heart-knowings, from our sense of connectedness to everything.

And that means living disconnected from the extraordinary greatness that’s inside each of us.

A friend of mine, when I was talking with him about looking inside the ordinary for the extra-ordinary, said that extraordinary actually lives outside the ordinary. Like our sense of ordinary-ness is contained within something much vaster, and less known.

Perhaps it’s ultimately less knowable – within the mysterious territory of the infinite… the ineffable…the magical.  It’s around us everywhere.

So, is it inside us, or outside of us, this “extraordinary”?  I sense it’s a paradox – a “both/and” rather than an “either/or”.  But to find it, to begin the journey, first takes us into inner space (which, with apologies to Captain James T. Kirk, I actually consider to be the final frontier….)

How Short the Journey…The Awakening

In some ways, it’s a short journey, from ordinary to extraordinary.  Physically, it’s the journey from head-based conscious awareness of the world [living within the ego], to heart-based consciousness.  A journey of a matter of a couple of feet, physically speaking.

Maybe it should be easy, given its shortness.  Seems for most of us, instead, it’s the journey of a lifetime.  For many I’ve known, the journey begins in deep disquiet, caused by a disturbance in the “rabble”.

I’m specifically using the word “rabble” here, to mean “the common, the ordinary masses”.  It’s the beginning point – seeing ourselves as utterly ordinary, living our lives unconscious to what lies within us.

Then, something happens to disrupt the rabble.  Sometimes it’s a physical illness, sometimes a traumatic event.  Sometimes an addiction.  A major loss.  Or a deep disquiet that grows in our hearts; a voice that won’t be stilled, that whispers to us of…. more.

Whatever shape it takes, it’s the rabble-rouser.  It awakens the sleeper in us, and invites us to pay attention.  To go on the sacred journey, into our own ineffable experience of the bigness of life.  Our life.

Image and quote about treating ourselves tenderly.Because the truth is, we’re not small.  Or ordinary.  Far from it.  And when we engage with the rabble rouser within us, that’s what we discover.

It’s a journey well worth taking.  And though it does take courage, to step off the path of accepting “ordinariness” as a defining description of  self, others and life itself… for me, it’s only one that interests me.

The Journey, not the Destination

Because here’s what I’ve found: the deeper I go, and the more I say “yes”, the more engaging the traveling becomes…. and the more connected I feel to loving, appreciating and accepting my self, on my own journey… to others on theirs… to the planet, and to life in all its myriad forms.

I never know what I’ll find, when I “just say ‘yes’…

But I know it’ll always be interesting.  Extraordinary.

We’re All in this Together

As near as I can figure, this is the journey all humanity is on.  After all, we’re each holographs of the species to which we belong.

Image of stones shaped as YES!So, I’m curious.  What’s been your own experience with your rabble-rouser?  With your own courageous questing?

How much of your extraordinary-ness have you begun to notice?

Do you have experiences with this “just say yes” phenomenon?

Whatever chord this post may have struck in you, I’d love to hear from you…

Within the very heart of “ordinary”, there lies the territory of the extra-ordinary… within each of us…and outside of all of us…

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