As I mentioned on the last road, there are some things that you can only see if you climb up high enough for the view.
The same is true to for the things in the lowest places. There are some things you can only see if you are willing to go down instead of up. There are things you can only experience in the lowest places.
It’s become stupefying to me how much we, as a culture, seem to always think that more is better than less. Or that higher is better than lower. Or that bright light is better than darkness. Or even that health is better than sickness or death is better than life.
My feelings about these old beliefs have changed so much. There are so many gifts in less. There are so many gifts in the lowest places. There are so many gifts in the darkness. There are so many gifts in both sickness and death.
And whether or not a person ever gets to a place of embracing the other side of delight — these things are always going to be a part of life.
In fact, I have been trying to train myself to stop saying “I just want to do the best thing.” Instead, now I say to myself, I just want to do the next good thing. Then I don’t have to chase around making judgements about things that I don’t understand yet. We miss out on so many incredible experiences in life when we are always trying to find the best thing. What I know down to the marrow of my bones is that every good choice we make might not look like the best choice, but every every EVERY choice we make can turn out for the best. Every single one. Life is just magical like that.
So on The Road to the Lowest Place, I learned that what I felt like was a punishment, or unjust results, or just flat-out crummy actually ended up turning out for the best.
A few years ago, several of my artist friends and I traveled to Ghost Ranch in New Mexico, where we got to teach for a week on the same property where Georgia O’Keefe lived and painted. It was my 3rd year teaching there, and this time, I got to teach with my friend, Pixie.
We taught a self-portrait class together where everyone was to paint themselves as something from nature that felt like who they are. After much deliberation, I painted myself as a river. It felt so true, it still does.
But when we went around the circle and explained why we chose what we chose, something came out of my mouth that I had never said, that I didn’t even know until I said it — that I chose a river because it’s never the same, it’s always flowing, and it always flows to the lowest place.
I am certain that I looked puzzled after I said that. Because I was.
I went back to my room and really thought about it and then I started to cry a little. I said to my Truthteller…..WHY DO I ALWAYS END UP IN THE LOWEST PLACE? And I started to have a little pity party, like I do.
Until I got schooled.
I sat and had this conversation with the sky for a long time, and as I would talk, I would also listen…….and here’s what I got told….
That it’s actually wonderful to be a river because you get to experience everything and be just about everywhere. You aren’t always in the lowest place, you just end up there and it’s actually exactly where you’re supposed to be. Sacred things happen in the lowest places…in the trenches of life.
But where did the water originate from? A mountain river used to be a high mountain lake, which used to be cloud. So if you’re a river, you started at the highest place and then flowed down…and all the way down you watered everything in your path, and in the end, you brought the water where it was most needed — to the lowest place.
I love water. I love rivers. I love lakes. I love the ocean. I love the faucet. I even love puddles. But I am a river.
There was a time when everything felt so dead and dying in my life, much the way the whole world feels right now. Sometime in the last 10 years, I wrote this poem about what it felt like to see a dead and dried out field of flowers that once used to be so beautiful and vibrant. That’s what my life felt like. That’s what I felt like inside. I desperately needed to know that something was going to stay alive no matter how horrible the conditions.
Then I had a vision of a green place…far far far away, and it was green because of the water that flowed there through the dried out death.
In Spite of Everything
I see something green so far away
Out the window I look at death and pray
I need to see there’s something still alive
In spite of everything, it has survived
Flowers used to cover up this place
Flowers everywhere, they fell from grace
I need to see there’s something still alive
In spite of everything, it can survive
I hear water trickling down the stream
Running to the lowest place, it seems
I need to know there’s something still alive
In spite of everything it has survived
Plant the seeds and hope that they will grow
There really isn’t any way to know
People tell you nothing can survive
People tell you love won’t stay alive
I need to know that good things are alive
In spite of everything they can survive
We’ll plant more seeds and ache for them to grow
Something in this seed already knows
We’ll be the ones who keep it all alive
In spite of everything, we will survive
We journeyed here to see with our eyes
They swore it was dead…but here it is alive
Well be the ones who keep it all alive
In spite of everything….
In spite of every single thing…
In spite of everything….
We will survive
In spite of everything
We are alive.
I found myself in my lowest place after I realized that I was disassociating from myself and leaving myself there in the lowest place to try to be in the highest place. I left myself there, so I had to go and find myself there.
And guess what? When I let myself flow down down down down down the mountain of all that I had worked so hard to achieve, I ended up where the water was. I ended up where my parched soul could drink and drink and drink from truth. It just kept flowing.
It can feel so painful and unfair when you worked so hard to get up high and suddenly you are being carried by some strong force, stronger than you are, down down down down. But the pain comes largely because of the perspective. What if it’s the best thing that could ever be happening? What if being up high was good and being down low is good too? What if all of it is good?
I’m learning to trust where the river goes. And then I have to remind myself that the river is continuously flowing all the way from way uptop to all the way to the bottom. Simultaneously. Sometimes I am the water that is flowing and sometimes I am the thing that is floating on top of it that makes me believe that I am at the mercy of where it takes me. When I forget that I am the river and not the paper boat, I suffer.
You are a river too.
So, flowing soul
What does it feel like for you to be in the lowest places? AND Where did you start? Where did you flow from to get there?
I love you and I love doing life next to you, and with you. I hope that when you’re flowing to the lowest place, that you can see and feel the gifts in it.
Tomorrow, we will go down The Road That Forked Wildly. I will see you there.
Drink from the river of truth, okay?
I love you