Harry, who had this hanging outside of his art studio. A few months earlier he had a different reminder. He had The Four Agreements which he wasn't sure he totally subscribed to anymore. But this newest one was so basic and clear it had replaced the four secrets to a happy life. This message has no room for anything else. It is just the basic truth of life. The only thing that I can change is myself. Everything outside of myself, is in God's hands. For me, God's hands translates into the Universe.
Six months ago, I would say say things like this, but I didn't really believe it in my core. Most of my actions were still in one way or another trying to get someone else to change or someone else to feel a certain way. I read something today that said if you repeatedly air your feelings four times to different people (or even the same person), this is not expressing yourself but trying to manipulate people into feeling the same way you do about a particular person or grievance. I had never thought about my intentions when I was just "expressing myself." The idea of being honest had been warped so much that I valued "honesty" over people's feelings. I might even justify my honesty by saying, "If you ask for my opinion, I'm going to give it" which is another way of saying, "If you ask me if I have a gun, I'm going to fire it." But I am learning there is a way to communicate that is both honest but also has integrity. Being honest doesn't give me permission to gut someone. But on the flip side, saying nothing can often be even more vicious. I spent a lot of time trying to combat some of my sharp tongue by just zipping my lip, by not communicating at all. But that has it's own form of manipulation. Sometimes silence is more cruel than words.
The further I look inside, the more I can see how so many of my days, so much of my life, has been a struggle between accepting what I have actual power over and trying to assert power over something that I can't. (And here I just thought I was bossy!) If I wasn't trying to fix someone or change someone's actions, I was trying to get someone else to change their sentiment. My "venting sessions" were not actually venting but a way of controlling. And the last month I have had to really look at my part in some of the unhappiness I have created in my environment. I had to admit that my venting was really a form of gossip which at it's core is a grasp at finding some kind of power in a situation where I have none. Gossip carries judgment. While it can bring a few laughs and make me feel particularly witty or funny, dare I say clever, in the end it is an action led by my ego that removes me one step more from the person I would like to be in this world. I am in a place right now where I am looking carefully at how I behave. What am I saying? Am I saying what I mean? And how am I saying it? While also being easy on myself when I don't know the answer. When is my ego running my day and when is my heart? What kind of validation am I looking for and why am I looking for it? Sometimes I don't know. I have even had to question this blog. Am I writing to express myself or am I trying to send a message? Am I trying to communicate in a way that lacks integrity? Am I writing to feel validated or am I writing because I want to feel? And for today, I can say, I want to feel.
This blog has become a sort of truth meter for me. And I love how it continues to evolve as I continue to explore and try to make a change in myself. The other night I saw the documentary Marley about Bob Marley. It was an incredibly inspiring documentary but it left me so sad and I realized it was a disappointment with myself. There was something in his fearlessness, his ability to seek love and peace in an environment that fostered violence and poverty that really shook me. He came from Trenchtown and would have had every right to turn towards the dark, but instead he sought beauty and spirituality and elevated himself out of a very hard life in Jamaica to become one of the most influential, groundbreaking, and inspiring artists in history. His faith in God and humanity, his love of music and people, made for an extraordinary life and although his time on Earth here was brief, the legacy he left behind continues to foster love, unity, and faith. It makes me think back on this question I asked over a hundred kids in my documentary a couple years ago. How do I want to be remembered?
In the words of Gandhi:
Be the change you want to see in the world.
A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave.