birds eye view

Follow ontheten on Twitter

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

start where you are

pic-pete wentz with a monkey on his back- can you relate?

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.
Arthur Ashe

i have developed a habit of reading from books to my substance use groups. i don't use them to replace any curriculum, but hopefully to enhance them. i am particularly fond these days of pema chodron's writing. when i was struggling to get clean about 5 years ago, my friend had recommended the book "when things fall apart" as something that might be helpful in my situation. sadly, when i to the used bookstore to find it, i mistakenly purchased "things fall apart" by chinua achebe. i never wrote things down at that point and somehow the names seemed similar to me.

fast forward to when i actually purchased the first book. i was amazed at the simplicity of its buddhist sensibility. and it offered me hope and some wiggle room in my views of my issues and how they fit in the world.

needless to say, this book brought me great comfort. i started reading it to my matrix group as they seemed to be struggling with inspiration. i have never tried to impart dogma, only ideas. and the selections, when read aloud, almost always inspire conversations and seem to address the shackles of our own perceptions, even if for only a short while. this has expanded to the dui groups as well. there, so many participants are in precontemplative frames of mind, and i find it helps to get them engaged in new ways in group discussions.

what happened for me initially, coincidentally, while i read to my groups last spring, was that my life started to mirror the chapters in "when things fall apart" in very eerie ways. many things in my life seemed to start to do just that- fall apart. my job fell apart. my relationship with my former counselor completely disintegrated. i found myself re traumatized and experiencing ptsd so evidently, that i was compelled to seek treatment for it and subsequently worked through it. but most enveloping was the complete implosion of my sense of self. i basically had to take apart the wiring and reconstruct. this last bit- a daunting task- is still in progress.

so my purpose here today is to share the wonder of following an instinct (or my heart as it were). i knew when i read that book, that i was tapping into something much larger than myself, and much more logical than myself. now i have gotten a second book written by pema chodron with the title "start where you are". i read the first two pages of the chapter with that same name to one of my groups last night. it talks about seeing ourselves, knowing ourselves, and accepting ourselves. this seems simple, but is a vastly tall order for me. it seems so easy for me to hate the bits of me that are stumbly or rough or unexceptional and ordinary. i find comfort in the directness she projects as she relays that it is intelligent and thoughtful for us to see ourselves and love ourselves now, as we are today- with our emotional pimples and our brainiac halitosis, and not when we become the fantasy we want to be- just as we are right here, right now.

she says "do it now, don't wait.... and start where you are"

today's sound choice is sigur ros doing hoppipolla



Marc said...

A friend introduced me to Pema Chodron back in Nashville and she blew me away.
Writing the novella I'm working on, I realize that if I write a page a day, I will have a 365 page book in a year, and if I did that ever year, by 70 I could have 20 books under my belt.
Talk about starting where you are.

Northwest said...

This post gave me chills. I feel my journey is parallel with the way you describe yours.

I read "When Things Fall Apart" at a time when I gained my freedom by coming out, and yet threw it away by choosing meth instead of reality.

And now, after surviving what amounts to an ambitious attempt to self-destruct, I find myself pondering the possibility of simply "being"-- without apology or shame.

Now I learn of Pema Chodron's new book and message and it once again matches up well with me. It seems I've WANTED to accept all there is about me for years, without believing for a second I could do it. And now I feel as if I can, and am.

Thanks for pointing me a little closer toward this way!

Related Posts with Thumbnails