A note from Carl:
Before today’s writing, I want to share a bit of the bounty of our offerings coming in the next months. Next week, we will open our second month of the online Embodiment Lab, Growing Hara, Embodying Your Pelvis, Belly, and Back. This is one of our favorite topics to dive into and is so essential for showing up in this crazy world with grounded, embodied presence!!!
We are loving our first month exploring Inner Authority, Body Sovereignty, and Your Inner Teacher, and are delighted to have an awesome community of people from around the world practicing and learning together. You can still join October’s month here.
We also have opened up registration for our Embodiment Matters Costa Rica Retreat in February, which will be so incredible!!! (Details below)
For those in Salt Lake, tonight, Robin Wall Kimmerer, author of Braiding Sweetgrass (one of our very favorite books) will be speaking at the Utah Permaculture Collective, (6:30-9 pm) and again tomorrow, Saturday at the Downtown Library, 3-4:30 pm.
Also, please mark your calendars for the visit of our friend and mentor, Francis Weller, who will be giving a public talk on “An Apprenticeship With Sorrow” on November 8th also at the Main Library. The weekend workshop is sold out, but you can attend the Friday night public talk. (We recommend getting there early.)
The following weekend, we are excited to host author and teacher, Stephen Jenkinson and the Nights Of Grief and Mystery Tour on Saturday, Nov 16th. We had a wonderful podcast conversation with Stephen about the show, and this is just an evening that you do not want to miss.
So much elder wisdom!
And on to today’s reflections…
I loved something that Dr. Daniel Foor said when we had our podcast conversation with him on Animism, Embodiment, and Ancestral Healing. He used the term “becoming normal-sized” to describe someone whose sense of self is not too big, and not too small, but is fully inhabiting their uniqueness.
I have sat with this question, and like so many things, is it a paradox. Usually, some apsect of ourselves needs to grow and other aspects of us need to shrink to become truly normal-sized.
I remember 25 years ago seeing the famous quote from Marianne Williamson, which was often attributed to Nelson Mandela who read it at is his inauguration: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? … Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.”
That line really struck a deep chord of truth in my 22-year old self.
So many of us hold ourselves too small, and some of us inflate ourselves too big.
What is normal-sized?
I love this story from one of Francis Weller’s classes. Francis was inviting participants to let go of trying to become extraordinary, but rather aiming to become more ordinary; inhabiting one’s unique life yet not “taking the special pill.” A man in the class asked a question – something to the effect of, “I’ve been working for years to become extraordinary and now you tell me that I should drop it and become ordinary??!!”
And Francis replied, “A Peregrine falcon is an amazing being to witness, precisely because it is not trying to be an extraordinary falcon. It is being an ordinary Peregrine falcon – and the paradox is that to us, it looks extraordinary.”
Could there be an ordinary, natural, you that is as incredible as a Peregrine falcon being a Peregrine falcon? Nothing special, yet essential and irreplaceable.
Another angle on normal-sized comes from Michael Meade, and his notion of each of us having our own unique genius, our own unique gifts that only we can bring to the world. In this passage from The Genius Myth, Michael highlights the importance of each of us inhabiting our normal-sized genius in response to these times:
Secretly, we are all connected, all affected by the flood of changes and all caught in the churning of the world. Given the size, scope, and complexity of the problems that currently threaten the world, there can be no single idea, specific political movement, or patented belief system that can save us. All kinds of ingenious solutions are needed; all types of inspiration, invention, and originality are now required. Rather than insisting on a single idea or belief, rather than dedicating to a certain ideology, it might be wiser to learn how to awaken and engage the unique genius waiting to be found in each person regardless of ethnicity, gender orientation or social class.
An old idea suggests that adversity reveals human genius; while comfort conceals it. At a time when human society faces adversity in all areas of culture as well as most aspects of nature, we may be closer to revelations of human spirit and resiliency. We may be more able to redeem human genius as an inherent aspect of soulfulness that connects us both to great nature and to the true nature of our own lives.
Rather than the need to heroically save the whole world, the real work of humanity at this time may be to awaken the unique spark and inner resiliency of genius seeded within each person born. The transformation of the individual soul becomes the transformation of the living world. For, the world too is in danger and in need of as much care and genius as we each can offer to it.
Here is a poem from one of my favorite normal-sized genius poets, Mark Nepo:
“Crossing Some Ocean In Myself”
Half a century, and finally,
what I feel is what I say
and what I say is what I mean.
What I mean is that others,
so used to my gargantuan efforts to be good,
don’t understand my efforts to be real.
They find me coming up short.
I’m simply burning old masks.
And the next step takes me–
I don’t know where–
as it should be–
I don’t know
just that I love who I love.
I listen with my heart.
I struggle with the reflexes of my mind.
I mean, the pains of life are sharper now
but disappear more clearly the way
knives are swallowed by the sea.
And the subtleties of being come on
like waves that cleanse but which,
when dry, cannot be seen.
So much like a gentle animal now,
unsure what I was fighting for,
except to breathe and sing, except
to call out the human names of God
that others have uttered when
thoroughly stripped of their plans.
So much like a love animal now
until the end of any day’s work
is the soft moment
when loving and being loved
are the same.
All year round,
the birds and trees instruct,
make visible the wind
the way reaching without shame
makes visible the love.
Wishing you well,