you and me

The Blinding Ache To Be Noticed: I See You.

“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret; it is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.” ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I got an email this morning from an old friend. She told me of a breakthrough she’d just had regarding her training as a voice teacher. In the past, she’s been prone to lamenting how life has taken her onto long side trips into wilderness that seemingly had nothing to offer her.

But a profound shift has taken place. She’s more settled, more accepting. She’s found a mentor who will be her guide in getting herself certified.

“A birth cannot be rushed,” she wrote. She’s realized that even if she feels she is behind, she is exactly where she needs to be.

We met 26 years ago. I held her hand when she began to remember sexual abuse from her childhood. I talked to her after she lost her father and sister and mother to cancer.

What I admire most about her is her ability to keep rising up — no matter how many times she falls. She rises. She’s had a full plate of karma this lifetime. She comes from a background of abuse and insanity and illness. But still she strives for her dreams. She gets up and she pulls on her big girl panties and she keeps going.

And the thing is, this is the common thread I see in people around me right now.

The world may be a mess, but we are still aiming for what we want. Determined to not be stymied by fear or negativity, we are doing the work. We are doing the work whether anyone notices or not. We are not in it for the show. We are in it for the chance to burn brightly in this particular and fleeting moment.

For many years, I was a wallflower. I blended in wherever I was. A chameleon, I could look like paper or bark or the street beneath your feet. I hid in plain sight.

For some reason, I felt like I needed to do something big in order to measure up, to be seen, to be worth the price of admission.

Now, I realize that ache to be seen was just my small ego looking for light. I cannot do my work (as a teacher or a writer or a poet or a songwriter) only for the praise of others. I must do it because it is my calling. It is the reason I am here. It is what spirit planted me on earth to do. And these days, I do it — whether anyone acknowledges me for it — or not.

And I guess that is what I felt when I read my friend’s words this morning: Something tender. Something hopeful. Something that indicates that we are both here for reasons that we may not yet be able to see. We need to keep going. We need to find out what gifts are in store for us.

I read somewhere recently that the world doesn’t need more successful people.

It needs more poets and writers and dreamers. It needs more people who are awake. It needs more kindness and cooperation. It needs spirits who are willing to let it rip, tell the truth, and sink to their knees in supplication. We may have to walk on glass or swallow fire, or maybe not.

Maybe we can simply nod in recognition when we see another road warrior taking the difficult path. The path of spiritual growth. Maybe we can reach out in the darkness and touch the slippery silver of each others’ hearts, acknowledging that we see each other, and the sight makes us glad.

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Shavawn Berry

Shavawn Berry

Big Mammu, Mischief Maker, and Chief Creative Contessa at Shavawn M. Berry, LLC
Shavawn M. Berry’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Huffington Post, The Good Men Project, elephant journal, Olentangy Review, Black Fox Literary Magazine, Be You Media Group, Vagina – The Zine, Rebelle Society, The Cancer Poetry Project 2, Kinema Poetics, Kalliope, Poet Lore, Westview - A Journal of Western Oklahoma, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, Concho River Review, North Atlantic Review, Synapse, Living Buddhism, Blue Mountain Arts/SPS, and Poetry Seattle to name a few. Her technique essay on the dramatic monologue/persona poem is featured in a poetry database published in 2013 by Ebsco Publishing. In 1998, she received her MPW in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles where she specialized in Creative Nonfiction and Memoir. Ms. Berry teaches writing online for Arizona State University where she has won numerous teaching awards including a 2013 Lincoln Ethics Teaching Fellowship. Since 2014 she has been mentoring student interns through the Pen Project, a writing and editing internship offered by Arizona State that allows students to critique and offer feedback to incarcerated writers in Arizona and New Mexico. You can read more of her work on her blog, The Wonderland Files, via her website. A portfolio featuring a selection of her essays, blog postings, and prose is available at Contently.com under her name. You can reach her via her Facebook page where she chats with like-minded, open-hearted people. She loves animals of all kinds, nature, the ocean, the desert, travel, the southwest, and most particularly her new home, in Santa Fe, NM. She offers creative coaching, writing webinars and workshops, and retreats through her website.
Shavawn Berry
Shavawn Berry