Thursday, March 12, 2015

"If a Schmuck Like Me Can Do It..."

Book cover
In the early seventies a friend kept telling me, “Whatever you do, don’t try to make those feelings go away.” His advice went on: “Anything you can learn about working with your sense of discouragement or your sense of fear or your sense of bewilderment or your sense of feeling inferior or your sense of resentment—anything you can do to work with those things—do it, please, because it will be such an inspiration to other people.” 

That was really good advice. So when I would start to become depressed, I would remember, “Now wait a minute. Maybe I just have to figure out how to rouse myself genuinely, because there are a lot of people suffering like this, and if I can do it, they can do it.” I felt a sense of interconnectedness. “If a schmuck like me can do it, anybody can do it.” That’s what I used to say, that if a miserable person like me—who’s completely caught up in anger and depression and betrayal—if I can do it, then anyone can do it, so I’m going to try.  - The Wisdom of No Escape by Pema Chödrön (pages 100–101)
I'm grateful that Pema Chodron persevered in this. Her writings have inspired me.

Have you ever thought of your own journey in this way? Has it occurred to you that what you have been through - whatever it is that has been an occasion for your perseverance - might give others hope in their own times of trial or darkness?

A number of bloggers and other writers have provided this kind of inspiration for me. Many of them are featured on my blog's sidebar; some of them have written books which I've shared here. Some have served as a kind of "lifeline" for me in the depths of my grief, or during times of betrayal, or losing sight of the next step in the way forward.

If you are enduring a dark time, I hope you will consider that honoring your own inner journey might just be the way through to the light for you. Write down your feelings, draw them, dance, or walk, or paint, plant a garden, write music - whatever comes to you creatively - do it. You needn't share publicly unless you are moved to do so, but do honor your feelings; don't bury or ignore them. Your journey matters, your life matters, and the fact that you find your way through the darkness to the light (and how you do it) may someday instill hope in someone who has lost sight of how to find their way. Remember Pema's words, "If a schmuck like me can do it, anyone can do it."
My mom sent me this glass dish with butterflies in it in honor of Katie's 20th birthday. I filled it with treasures found on the beach on that day. Do you see the "angel's wing" shell on top?
Isn't that a "heavenly" gift?


Kim Andersen said...

Good words Karen. You have lots of courage under your belt so I trust what you say.

Elizabeth said...

I, too, love Pema Chodron, and while I find it hard to believe that she was ever a "schmuck," I am grateful that she'd admit to being one! I have found in my own life as a pretty public blogger that just when I'm feeling my most despairing in my private life, I get an email or a comment from someone who is clearly suffering, who thanks me for my writing or for "getting it." It so shores me up -- makes me realize that we are all connected in such complex ways. I feel that way about you, too, Karen -- reading your writing for so many years, meeting you in Canada that time -- well, your grace and wisdom and raw authenticity have taught me so much. I know I'm not the only one!

Daisy said...

Beautiful and thoughtful gift from your maman. Angel wing made me smile. Heavenly serendipitous!