Sat nam, everyone!
Before I post the newest blog, I am going to shamelessly (shamelessly!!) post the link to my GofundMe and Kickstarter campaigns. I am in the process of putting my yoga books and my novels up on the Amazon platform….and I need a graphic designer to do the finish work. I have learned that some things are simply beyond me, and I recognize my limitations in this! It isn’t going to be expensive, but it certainly isn’t cheap so I am hitting the campaign trail to raise a small sum to make it happen. Thanks for taking a look. :-)
For yoga and spirituality, the link is: https://www.gofundme.com/jamieshane
For fiction (and spirituality), the link is: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/722993578/novels-of-the-modern-goddess
Every tiny little bit helps; Thank you!
And onward to my next rambling….
The Kindness of Strangers
I don’t know if you have ever had a meltdown.
I don’t actually know if most people do.
I am a big fan of the meltdown….as long as it happens, then passes, and then provides tools to get up and get on with it. Not that they are ever fun, and not that I go searching for them. But when it comes at me like a freight train, I try and roll under it and deal.
So recently (as evidenced by my last post) I was figuratively hit by said crazy train. A woman that I have not spoken with in almost a year just popped up out of the ether and started slandering me all over Facebook . (Simply a great medium for that) Her allegations were over the top absurd and not one single person believed her. I understand that she is and has always been unstable and that she needs compassion. Knowing this, it should have been easy to dust off my shoulders, bless her and move on.
That, however, did not happen. I did not roll with the train. Not at all.
Instead I fell on my ass and got dragged behind it for a little while. I pretty much retreated into myself and had a little, bloody existential breakdown. I questioned my practice. I questioned my philosophy. I questioned my faith. I stopped participating in all of my spiritual foundations and sat in the void. In a nutshell, I quit. Everything.
Was that healthy? Ask a yogi and the answer is no. Ask a human and the answer is probably still no. Shit, ask me six months ago and the answer would have been no. But I did it anyway. I quit everything in which I had ever believed, participated, and taught. Wholesale.
Simply because this woman–another practitioner of yoga, and a highly educated yogic individual–said terrible, terrible things about me as a person. And she believed them. Worst of all, I had heard it all before, and it kept popping up. Being an outspoken woman with uncommon faith beliefs, I have been called all kinds of things by all kinds of people. People who know me and people who don’t. And that shit stings no matter how mature you are.
I couldn’t help to wonder if they were right. I mean if you hear something more than once, does that make it true?
As I was trying to process this, so very many of my friends showed up. They all talked to me about what was going on and why I shouldn’t give up and how they valued me. They all told me to take a break, to just breathe and to come back to being myself. They all broke down the reality of the situation for me and tried to get beneath me to hold me up until I could hold myself up. These wonderful, wonderful people checked in on me, made me laugh, made sure I was eating and sleeping and keeping on.
But despite my gratitude, I couldn’t quite hear them. Even though they were right and loving, in that place it felt as if they were all trying to make sure that “Jamie Shane” stayed the “Jamie Shane” that they knew and loved. They all wanted the version of me that they knew and relied upon to return. My students wanted me to remain the teacher they love. My friends wanted me to be the friend they love. My parents want me to be the daughter they love. Etc, etc. etc.
Just like this woman wanted me to remain the evil sorceress she hated.
And it all stung. The love and the hate stung equally because it was all perceptions of me based on a form of external need. In that cluttered space, I couldn’t breathe. It felt like being in a box of expectation that I would have to explain myself out of in order to survive. And in survival mode–there ain’t no room for explaining. Especially when I couldn’t hear myself clearly enough to even start.
In the midst of all this I find myself having a drink with one of these good friends at the local dive. And a man walks up. He asks if the seat next to me was taken, and I said, “Yes it is, by you.” He smiled and that was that. We both went on about our business. An hour or so later, while my friend was in the Ladies’, he strikes up the totally normal bar conversation. (You all know the one). All in all, this is no special encounter. He just moved to town, is also a writer, hasn’t really dug into living here, I’m telling him all the cool, free, local things to do, what to see, encouraging him to get out and let Naples be a part of his writing, bla, bla, bla….and then he goes, “Thank you. I can tell you are a really strong and kind person. Most people wouldn’t bother to talk with me.”
And I’m floored. First, because, really? There’s always time to be nice to someone. Second, because it was like God just came through this total stranger to give me what I needed to hear. From a neutral source with no investment in the results of that statement. And that’s when I started to talk, to dig up what was going on and just talk. He listened with that neutral ear and came up with a slice of wisdom that stabilized the ground beneath my feet.
He said, “Just because someone doesn’t understand what you are doing, doesn’t make you wrong or bad. You have to stand your ground. You just have to stand your ground.”
That man changed my life. Big cosmic kiss and hug, man. Thank you.
Because I looked then at the ground I needed to defend and realized that the freight train had pushed me off of a path I didn’t actually want to be walking. With her hurtful words, she had forced me away from a life that was slowly carving chunks out of my heart. I ran from her. But in reality I was running from everything she was trying to defend by attacking me. I know that sounds strange, but if I had stood the ground I was on, I would be constantly fighting for something that would eventually have smothered me. So she ran me over, and I got dragged behind the train, and when I finally freed myself, I was in virgin territory. The ground I had to stand was new ground, it was my ground and I was totally free. I just hadn’t been able to see it until that stranger made me look.
I have come to believe that most people are good and kind when given the opportunity. I now see that even mean people are, in some way, being of service. God turns up in the way you need most, and he/she/it works through the most earthly and basic ways. If we all own our humanity, and share it openly, we can best express that godliness for ourselves and others. Because you never know when you are the stranger that saves someone’s life….just by being you. Stand that ground. Always.