(c) Andrew Safer 2015
While walking on a trail, muddy water can be such a threat to shoes! I avoid it at all costs, muttering under my breath as I carefully choose my steps. But walking the same trail in rubber boots, I delight in wading through several-inch-deep puddles.
Burying emotions and upsets while keeping a game face is sort of like strolling through leaky debris with the wrong shoes. You wince, hoping the yukkiness of the last muddy pool isn’t about to soak through to your socks at any moment.
We’ve been locking loneliness, shame, sadness, and all sorts of other feelings in the basement for years. Instead, let’s put on the rubber boots of awareness, let our feelings and emotions stay on the main floor, and honour them as we sit together at the kitchen table. Then, in the clear light of day, they can have what Andy Warhol called their “15 minutes of fame".
Rumi, the 13th century Persian poet and Sufi mystic, pointed a finger in this direction when he wrote “The Guest House”:
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.