Of Dragons & Sirens

Peace is not freedom from pain, but transcendence.

Pain can be an invitation, a call to adventure, an opportunity to forgive and to heal.  No one lives free from pain; no one can help but cause pain.  We all must, at times, play the muse to another’s story, whether we intend to or not.  Think of them–the evil stepmothers, the dragons, the sirens.  They are the ones who send the call, who propel the heroes and heroines into the realm of adventure and possibility.  They are the ones who open the door to the bright, messy world we call life.  They are the fire of change.  Why fear playing the part of fire?

Play your part as openly and truthfully as you know how, choose love over fear and be quick to forgive.

We Learn By Becoming

“You have suffered only for this:  That you may bless others who suffer still.”

–Haven Trevino, The Tao of Healing: Meditations for Body and Spirit

We learn by becoming.  There is no other way.  We cannot think our way through the world; we cannot heal ourselves or others by pretending to live.  We are here to feel, to grow, to change.  To experience all facets of life, of being human.

Sometime our changes are abrupt and earth-shattering; at other times they happen so slowly we don’t notice until later that we have been reborn into a new life, a new world.  Either way, one day we will look back and know that our journeys have been perfect all along, that every step we’ve taken was blessed.  All we lacked was eyes with which to see it.

Do not worry because you feel alone.  Do not worry because you are afraid.  Even heroes doubt their paths, doubt their choices, doubt their callings.  That is natural.  That is human.  It does not mean you have failed.  It only means you have forgotten.

And when we forget, when we think that our fears are real and eternal, when we feel sorrow and pain, then we learn compassion for others.  And it is only through our compassion for others that we can find peace.

Allow yourself to feel, allow yourself to heal, and then bless those who suffer still.

The Way

“You don’t choose a life.  You live one.”  —The Way

Every journey is a pilgrimage.  We may seek different things–love, healing, truth, knowledge of ourselves–but it is at the places where our journeys intersect that we find our answers.  No one journeys alone.

The Way, written and directed by Emilio Esteves and starring Martin Sheen, is a beautiful illustration of the soul’s pilgrimage.  It chronicles the story of a man, Tom, who decides to walk the famous Camino de Santiago, from France through Spain, in honor of his son’s desire to complete that historic journey.  Along the way, he meets fellow pilgrims in search of their own answers, their own healing, their own truth.

It is a wonderful story, and it can be viewed on more than one level.  The first is the story of a grieving man and the adventures he encounters, the people he befriends.  On another level, Tom’s companions can be seen as manifestations of his own soul, reflections of the deeper yearnings for peace we all share.  (*Warning:  I will not give away any plot details, but some of the themes discussed below may foreshadow the story.)

There are three companions.  The first is an Irishman, a writer suffering from writer’s block, seeking stories.  The second, who usually wears red, walks the Camino de Santiago to lose weight for his wife, and is described by the Irishman as one “for whom kindness is an instinct.”  The third, a woman, claims that her journey is to quit smoking, but her past is full of abuse and loss.

They are the mind, the heart and the body.  Just as Dorothy’s companions sought a mind, a heart and courage from Oz, Tom’s companions seek healing of the very same things.

The journey of the mind is always to learn to trust our creativity, and to receive permission, whether from ourselves or others, to speak the truth.

The journey of the heart is to discover that the love we long for is already within us.  We must learn to love ourselves as well as we love others.

And the journey of the body is to find the courage to heal from our past traumas and rise again.

At the center of the story is the soul.  Tom is a true pilgrim, because he does not journey for himself, but for another.  What he must learn is that all journeys are taken together.  Which is to say, that to journey for another is also to journey for oneself.