“I had hoped to end this book on a triumphant note… Unfortunately, such a tale, while possibly uplifting and feel-good, would have to be filed in the fiction aisles. For much of the writing of In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts I continued to relapse: bingeing and lying, shamed and hollow.” – Dr. Gabor Maté.
Dr. Maté goes on to say that it wasn’t until recently that he would clean up his act. But rather than shout, “Mission Accomplished!” He says, “Mission Accepted” would be more accurate (reference: Dr. Gabor Maté, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction, p 349).
As I read this, I realised this sounds so much like me. And what a relief.
I, too, was hoping to end my book on a triumphant note, a “Happily Ever After”. I’m thinking when life starts to fall smoothly into place, and when every little dream and desires are fulfilled, and everything is in the order of perfection, THEN I’ll be happy. THEN I’ll have something to shout about.
As we all know (and yet, how often we forget), life doesn’t quite work out like that. If we go by that definition, we’ll end up waiting our whole lives.
We are not called to Perfection. We are called to WHOLENESS. And that means, we’re not just called to live the Good Life, but a life that is made of the Not-So-Good, as well. Wisdom, is born of Pain. It’s how we learn, it’s how we grow. And for most of us, it’s the only time we’d ever learn or grow! We need the darkness, as much as the light. It’s what makes us WHOLE and complete.
I am reminded of this, when I read Dr. Mate’s bold and honest statement.
I am reminded that instead of my “triumphant note”, I’ve progressed, and regressed, one step forward, two steps back… then step up again.
Doesn’t it sound like a dance?
Two steps forward, three steps back,
One step forward, then another, and back again.
Then forth, then back, and back and forth we go, twirling around in this dance of life.
A friend once shared his observation, “You’re going in circles!” And he meant it as a friendly warning, to bring to my awareness my life’s pattern.
There was a time where I feared my own regressions and mistakes. But I’ve come to the point where I recognise something else, besides fear.
The two steps back keeps me humble and compassionate. The one step forward again, fills me with Faith, Hope, and Love, giving me strength for the long journey ahead.
Perhaps, this is the reason why out of the 6 books I had hoped to purchase recently, 2 of my orders were cancelled by the bookstore. I felt a mix of disappointment and amusement. Both the books that happened to be unavailable were, ‘The Dance of the Dissident Daughter’ by Sue Monk Kidd and ‘The Dance’ by Oriah. Is it mere coincidence that both titles with the words ‘dance’ in it were not making it’s way to me? It could be.
But I know that I didn’t specifically select these books for the theme on dancing. I merely wanted to complete my collection of Sue Monk Kidd’s memoirs, and Oriah’s series of books. So I ordered whatever I didn’t have.
Today, I’m beginning to see that this incident is not a sign that my invitation to the dance of life has been cancelled! Rather, it is an Invitation. It is drawing me to the word Dance, as I yearn to be whole.
In a dance, and in dancing, it’s important to maintain a certain tension (arm tension, core tension), and yet, to be graceful, we are to loosen up.
This is not an easy thing to do. One seems to be the opposite of the other!
I remember going to a Tango Open Day, to watch my friend dance. The instructor, in the hopes of recruiting new students, began drawing the audience, one by one, to the dance floor. I was chewing bubblegum, to hide that I was feeling terrified! I was hoping she wouldn’t pick me, but she did, and I did what I could, and was pretty happy with myself by the end of it.
Moments later, that silly smile from conquering my fear would be wiped off my face. Apparently, the instructor had whispered into the ears of the guy she pulled to dance after me, and said, “You’re a better dancer than that girl. She’s so stiff, she can’t dance… But you, you’re a natural.”
I had thought of enrolling in her class. As you can imagine, when said guy relayed the information to me, I was crushed, and never saw her again.
I should’ve known that what happened that night, speaks volumes about the instructor, too. She looked so beautiful and elegant for her old age, with her grey-white hair slicked back into a bun. And her movements were as fluid as any sweet young things. But even at that age, she had not grown comfortable in her own skin. If she was, she would’ve recognised my stiffness as a sign of discomfort, and saw a young girl with no confidence.
If she was sure in herself, she would’ve taken that opportunity to speak words of encouragement, leading me to bring out the dancer in me.
Everyone can dance.
But she didn’t believe that. And I didn’t believe that. She needed to cling to her superiority. And I was too busy clinging to my inferiority. I think we both could learn how to Loosen Up a little.
I watched the Tango Scene in the Scent of a Woman last week. The blind man, Frank Slade, asked Donna to dance. Donna’s response is natural. She speaks for most of us when she said, “Ah, I think I’d be a little afraid.”
“Afraid of making a mistake.”
“No mistakes in the tango, darling. Not like life… If you make a mistake, get all tangled up, you just tango on. Why don’t you try?” Slade is persistent in his invitation, “You’ll try it?” Donna responds with courage, daring to make a silly mistake. “All right. I’ll give it a try.”
The Hope, is in the trying. Remember, Life is not so much “Mission Accomplished,” as it is “Mission Accepted.” It is an Invitation to Dance… Loosen Up. Don’t let the fear of making a mistake stop you from trying.
“Fear less, hope more; Eat less, chew more; Whine less, breathe more; Talk less, say more; Love more, and all good things will be yours.”- Swedish Proverb
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