I wrote the poem below more than a decade ago. Ah, to look back on what life was like then.
I was attending my first ever growth-oriented event, what was then Integral Institute’s Integral Transformative Practice (ITP) Seminar, and what eventually evolved, with the help of many good souls (including me), into Integral Life Practice (ILP). It was held in the Lakeview Pavilion, at the Westin Westminster, Colorado. It was the beginning of a seriously special time in my life.
It was one of those heart racing scenarios, particularly for introverts like me, familiar only in these realms. The task: You’ve got a couple of hours over dinner to prepare, and three minutes or less to perform, now go figure out what you want to gift as an expression of your heart, offered in front of your teachers and fellow growers, to cap off what was likely one of the most impactful weeks of your life.
Ummmm…excuse me? Seriously?!?!
Sheer panic set in. Everyone is going to watch me do what exactly? What’s worse, the fact that they will all be watching, or that I have to come up with some kind of expression/performance from my heart over dinner? They must be fucking with us. It can’t be real.
Did I mention I was an introvert…with stage fright? These kinds of things slay me…in both painful and seriously growth inducing ways. And this was literally my first rodeo.
Panic quickly morphed into pure adrenaline…ok, I gotta get this shit done, and it’s gotta be good. Writing writing, crossing off, writing some more. Arrows, chicken scratch in margins. Holy crap, time is ticking. Ok, it’s not the end of the world. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It’ll be fine. And it’ll be over in three minutes.
And then, in the blink of an eye, there we were. In a big ole circle, of course. With the invitation to step into said circle when we were moved to go. Heart in throat, beating through my head as I waited until that pregnant pause arrived. Then I knew…it was my time.
(Starting with my back to the onlookers, kneeling, for dramatic effect)
My heart is racing. My tongue is tied. My eyes are open, they leak tears of joy, of gratitude, of fear.
Your eyes are my eyes. Your lips are my lips. Your grief, your sadness. Your confusion, it is my own.
Will I be good enough? Will I lose my identity in this sea of need?
(Standing and turning around to be seen, again, for dramatic effect)
No. I will rise.
Like the crimson sun that lights up the city from my window. I will fly like the bright red cardinal that relies on me for its nourishment. I will move like the angry wind, blowing the demons of ignorance into the air, until they dissipate into another space and time.
I will drench humanity like the glistening rain that I watch run across my windowpane. And I will fall like the soft snow and I will blanket this world with the whispers of a magical place. A place that I visit in my dreams. In my silent quiet moments of solitude when thought finally escapes me. A place I visit when I open myself unabashedly in the throes of lovemaking. A place in which we all rest.
I see that place in your eyes, and yours, and the inspiration becomes firmly placed in my soul.
Thank you, oh beautiful beings for walking this lonely journey with me. And know that I am here to lift you up above the world.
I am here. I am light. I am faith. I am love. I am YOU.
And I’m done. Phew!
In all honesty, it turned out to be a very sweet moment, and good for me on so many levels. One of those rare moments when you have a captivated audience really listening. You feel nakedly seen and heard for who you really are. Even though ten years have gone by, I remember it like yesterday. The poem still rings true in my heart.
Just a few months later, I would pack everything up, drive across country, and move from Pennsylvania to Colorado, completely uprooting and changing my entire life, leaving my family and career, destined for a dream in the Rocky Mountains. I came to work with Ken Wilber, to follow my idealizing heart, to be surrounded by people who were prioritizing love in their lives, effectuating great changes for others and for the world, living honestly with their hearts on their sleeves, propelled by the promise of a better life, a better world, a better humanity. As we all used to say in the I-I seminar biz, it was like coming home.
It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.