All of life seems to be a path. A journey unto itself. As we traverse, we go deeper and deeper and gain new insights and vistas, and we are transformed. The movement of life and our life seem to bring about this change organically. This movement can be seen in every aspect of life from the micro to the macro, from the individual to the collective. And when we move together, in sync with one another and life itself, our movement is grand, a beautiful dance. Healing is such a movement.
It necessarily begins with a wounding, an injury, and where and when it takes place is significant. If it takes place within, that is in the home or community, it is one kind of wounding. If it occurs outside the home or community it is another. If it occurs within, we are already trusting and vulnerable. If it occurs outside our trust must first be won before we are vulnerable to harm. In both cases our trust and vulnerability are damaged.
When it occurs is important as well. If we are wounded as children, then our development of defenses and self-protection were at that time inadequate to safeguard us. And their development may slow, as we no longer trust ourselves. As a result, we may look to others to provide that protection, but as our own self-protective measures have been compromised then our ability to gauge the trustworthiness of others will be compromised as well.
If the wounding occurs later in life, then our defenses may be relied upon too heavily, and we may surmise that the problem lies not within us but in the world. That the world cannot be trusted. Any number of variations and combinations of this initial wounding are possible.
In addition if the wounding is chronic that kind of wounding damages our resilience more acutely. Resilience is our psycho-spiritual immune system. It is as Dr. Mario Martinez says our ability to come back to ourselves after turbulent times. But if the turbulence is constant, that is if the injury is chronic or oft repeated or unrelenting, we do not have time to recover and we live in a constant state of threat. In this case resilience is not helpful because it makes us vulnerable again.
This is the first movement of the healing dance of life, and it is during the first movement, life’s wounding, where we devise our own dance steps or patterns if you would of coping. In other words, we develop new defense strategies for the new environment.
If nothing else life is resilient and creative. Just ask the purveyors of the blues or its older Italian ancestor opera. Life can not help but to create and be creative. To create is to live. And to be creative is to live in any and every situation and environment.
The dance has taken on new meaning now. The new coping or defense strategies are not without aim though at first blush they may seem to be. But they intend to get us back to where we started. To help us to start anew. So that we can truly get what we desire and need. And so, some of us become overly obsessed with the needs of others. Others of us become extremely anxious and worried about our own physical safety. Others of us become angry and aggressive as a way of coping and protecting ourselves. And most of us rely on thinking and ruminating in the extreme.
These devices in a strange way become our new strengths. We rely on them so much they become our surrogate caregivers. But we also master them. And without this mastery we may not have survived at all. So, they are to be respected and loved and understood.
The next movement is when our wound continues to speak even through our newfound defenses. In musical parlance it is the refrain. The restatement of the original theme. But in a new way. For now, it is not only pain that we feel, but the echo of what we lost, which is what we truly desire.
At first it was too painful to hear so we drowned it out in any number of ways. Work, other people, staying busy, food, and any number of vices.
But one thing I know is that life is persistent. I am working on a spoken word piece inspired by Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey. The first element is the call to adventure. I live with my mother, and I don’t know about you, but she does not call me only once, but she keeps calling until, no she just keeps calling. That is how life is. Life, the source of life, the source of your and my life keeps calling, until we answer.
And now comes the final movement in the ballet. At last we come into contact with that which we have been searching for all along. Yes, at some points this search was unconscious and ineffective, but searching we were.
The first glimpse or encounter will not be sustainable, but it will be significant enough so that it will remain with us. In our dreams, memories, encounters, feelings, thoughts it will constantly reappear.
It is here that our most significant step can change our life forever. If we can hear the music of life, that is what we truly want, and begin to nurture it, and care for it, until it can take care of us and those we love, then we have indeed found our dance partner for life.
We have found our old identity, which we thought forever lost, but which is now newly custom made for us. And this new vision of who we are becoming is our mission. Our brand to use modern parlance. It is here that the dance and the dancer become one. The two partners unite to form a greater whole. We embody this vision of ours. The words of Jesus may help us to reach the finale. I relate the words of Jesus often in my reflections not because I am a Christian, which I am, but because I believe that he along with all the other pioneers of the human experience offer us an invitation to a certain type life. He calls it abundant life or eternal life. That is life without ending. This he terms the Kingdom of God. I call it The People’s Village. I am a creative mystic at heart. I love to improvise.
Jesus says, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” This is the healing dance of life. And its interpretation is this, you are the field, and the treasure is what you truly desire – love, joy, validation, approval, what will make you whole again – the selling and buying speaks to you devoting yourself to your new discovery, to living and nurturing this new understanding of who you are. In the funk filled healing words of Zapp “I can make you dance.”