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Hope Forward: Surviving and Thriving through Emotional Pain: November 2013

Monday, November 18, 2013

Flood the Bucket

A friend of mine who is coming out of a very bad breakup was telling me that she is plowing through lots of good books on grief. She is speaking out all the pain to her support network.  She is taking quiet time, saying some prayers, walking and crying and writing and really trying to feel the feelings and bear the pain.  She knows she is grieving.  She knows it will take time.

And still.

It keeps on keeping on and she does not seem to be able to get relief, at least not the kind of relief she'd like.  She knows that part of healing means that there is really no way around - there is only through. 

She told me though, that one wise presence in her life told her this:  Flood the Bucket.
Meaning: picture a bucket of water.  Picture a drop of ink in the bucket.  If you stir the bucket, the ink spreads and colors the water.  But if you flood the bucket then the ink just sloshes around and gets lost.  It gets diluted. It gets smaller and smaller.

Flood the bucket with new things, things that comfort, things that add, things that give meaning.  Flood it with good wholesome healing activities, people, places, interests.  Flood it with creativity, art, writing, song.  Flood it with good deeds, fresh air, sunlight.

This does not mean, not by a long shot, that we should not have our feelings, that we should not feel them, or that we should minimize them or ignore them.  Or that having more will erase the pain.  Or that we should be compulsive or overly busy. 

It just means that it can help to be open to new things, new activities, new forms of substance, nurturing, contribution and creativity.  It can help to add life giving things when life feels so dark and so bleak and so vacant.

There is, I believe, so much value to having our feelings, to letting them live and breathe and be and giving ourselves full permission to do so.  But there is also something very valuable to the idea of flooding the bucket.  Of adding life.

A thank you to my friend and her friend for this idea.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Staking Your Territory

Recently I heard the following parable:

A benevolent king was riding through the forest in his kingdom and came upon a poor peasant slumped up against a tree crying.  The kind hearted king ordered his driver to stop and the king got out of his carriage and approached the peasant.  "What's the matter?" asked the king.  "I have nothing," replied the peasant, "nothing to call my own, nothing to my name."  So the king pulled out from his carriage four long silver stakes and took one of them and drove it securely into the ground.  Then the king said to the peasant "Take the other three stakes and walk as far as you'd like.  Put them in the ground as markers and you may keep all the land within them as your own."
With that, the king got back into his carriage and rode away.
The peasant, he walked for several miles and raised a stake high to drive it into the ground,  but paused and decided to go a bit further.  He walked several more miles and once again picked up a stake and began to drive it into the ground, but again decided to go further.
So as the story goes, what do you think happened to the peasant?

He is still walking.

So I was thinking that there are a few different ways to glean some meaning from this: 

First, it's often useful to know - for ourselves - the difference -the line - between ambition and excess.  We do have to search, but perhaps, we do have to define ourselves as some point.
It helps us to know who we are, what we "yes" have and when to say when.
More is not always better.  Having what we need and needing what we have even if we are not on the leading competitive edge may actually yield us a better inner life: more peace of mind, serenity, knowledge of what gives us meaning and what gives our lives value.

And this: Boundaries often set us free.  Free to relax. Free to pursue meaning based on reasonable goals.  Free to be satisfied.  Free to know what our limits are and how to live well within them and because of them. Free to focus on what we have and what we are and what we can do with what we already have and are.  Free to settle -  because sometimes settling is the path to peace and joy.

It's not that we should not look for better - it's just that perhaps there are times that we have to be gracious and conscious about defining ourselves and about what we believe better to really be.