Dig Below the ‘Fine, Thanks’ Façade & Awaken to Love.
Every second of every day, there is someone somewhere in the world asking: “How are you today?” And someone answering: “Fine, thanks.”
Deep down underneath those well-rehearsed lines are two humans. Two living, feeling hearts, reciting a mantra: Here… Now… Here… Now…
But experience teaches us that life can be tough, and that love is a battlefield.
So when someone asks us how we are, we don’t tell the truth. I mean, when are we ever fine? Either we’re struggling, challenged, upset, or we’re happy, but never fine. Fine is not a feeling state. Fine is an adjective for inanimate objects. Not humans.
I’m great at being fine. I can be going through a catastrophe, and still front up to the supermarket checkout, plaster on a smile, and respond, “Fine, thanks.”
And I bet you can too.
As humans, we get good at being robots, and we forget about that delicate, responsive, tender thing literally and metaphorically beating away in our chests, pumping blood and feeling into every tendril of our being.
So how does it feel to awaken to love after a long slumber?
Here are a few keywords that describe how it felt for me after a recent cathartic weekend workshop:
This is how I felt by the end of the weekend.
Yes, it felt warm and delicate and fuzzy to awaken to love, but it also felt pretty fucking rock and roll quite frankly.
Like Patti Smith plugging in her electric guitar and roaring out her rock poetry for the sheer joy of self-expression.
And it was also messy. Getting reacquainted with our hearts, underneath our carefully constructed masks and costumes, can be painful. There were tears. But as Osho says:
“Only sadness gives you depth. Laughter is shallow; happiness is skin-deep. Sadness goes to the very bones, to the marrow. Nothing goes as deep as sadness.”
It was an adventure into the full gamut of human experience — the silence and noise, the light and dark, the stillness and chaos, the gut wrenching misery and dizzying happiness of life.
I thought I understood this word. I didn’t. I thought it was a metaphysical directive, it’s not.
It’s a posture. It literally means to be here now. In your body.
I realized I’ve been living most of my life hovering about a meter in front of myself.
Numerous times throughout the weekend, the facilitator had to remind me to use I when speaking, instead of the general/hypothetical we/you. I wasn’t even aware I was doing it.
Each time I was reminded, I felt a sense of dropping back into my body.
And what I found underneath the layers of strength and resilience was a delicate thing, like a leaf in a breeze, feeling and responding to subtle movements and changes… happy, sad, elated, fearful — the true human under the costume.
And no, this doesn’t mean I have to become a basket case. It simply means I’m living — experiencing life. Instead of swirling through thoughts of the past or diving into fantasies of the future.
I highly recommend it. Try it. How do you feel right now?
Gosh, I love this word. With curiosity and adventure, its twin, anything is possible. Yes, there is still fear. But instead of aversion to fear, there is a curious spirit of adventure.
Imagine what would be possible if curiosity could replace fear!
If the next time I had to get up in front of a group of people and speak, I could simply be curious about it instead of fearful. Instead of feeling hurt and unfairly treated by another person, I could be curious about how they are experiencing life. Instead of backing away from some big, crazy dream that seemed unachievable, I could be curious and take an adventure into the land of what the heck.
What about you? What could you do with curiosity?
The uninitiated may imagine an awakened heart as some pink, frilly, soft and sweet thing. But the truth couldn’t be further from this picture. Awakening your heart takes courage. It takes a willingness to get raw and messy and honest.
At the start of the weekend, I kept myself neatly contained. But by the end, all 18 of us had laid our hearts bare. We’d dug down deep below the Fine, thanks façade to rediscover ourselves at our core.
One of the exercises involved music and movement. At first, I felt inhibited and uncomfortable.
“I don’t fucking feel like moving or dancing, thank you very much,” said the rebel warrior girl that guards the gate to my heart.
I held firm for a while. And then there was a knocking from within. Slowly I did feel like moving.
And then the tears began to roll. I cried for the longing for deep love and connection. I cried for all the things I didn’t like about myself, the mistakes I’d made, things I wished I’d done differently. I cried for no reason at all. I cried because I cried… and then I laughed.
It felt wonderful to move, to cry, to laugh.
To feel what there was to be felt.
To not be too much.
To be enough.
I’d pegged myself as uncoordinated and cynical. Imagine my surprise when what my heart actually wanted was wild, primal, uninhibited movement.
Who is that person on the inside of your heart?
When I was in my early 20s, I took LSD with a friend, then caught a tram from her flat in St Kilda into Melbourne’s CBD. Bad idea! It was sensory overload to the extreme. I remember thinking everyone looked like aliens wearing people suits.
Amidst the cement of the city, we craved nature, and had to settle for a garden bed in the middle of a towering office complex. We sat there tripping off our heads, repulsed by the grotesqueness of these strange entities wearing pudgy, puffy, pink skin suits.
Even though my brain was swirling with synthetic hallucinogens, what I was seeing was, in fact, the truth. We do spend a lot of our lives as hearts wearing human consumes.
Vulnerability is unzipping this suit, pulling off the mask and revealing our true selves. And it is in this place that our heart becomes visible and connection can take place.
Who are you under the suit?
Connection comes with the territory when we awaken to love — connection with our long lost selves, and from this place, with others.
I gazed into the eyes of strangers and saw sameness under our separateness.
I heard stories of challenge and heartache that weren’t so different to mine.
I cried tears of happiness and sadness at the goddamn beauty of being a human with a heart that feels, and therefore lives.
Before the workshop, I’d heard a writer define dharma as tendency — like it is an apple tree’s tendency to bear apples.
I put out a silent wish to know what my tendency was.
At the beginning of the weekend, the following poem was read aloud. By the end of the weekend, I understood I had my answer.
You’ve got it all wrong.
You didn’t come here to master unconditional love.
This is where you came from and where you’ll return.
You came here to learn personal love.
Infused with divinity.
Lived through the grace of stumbling.
Demonstrated through the beauty of messing up.
You didn’t come here to be perfect, you already are.
You came here to be gorgeously human. Flawed and fabulous.
And rising again into remembering.
But unconditional love? Stop telling that story.
Love in truth doesn’t need any adjectives.
It doesn’t require modifiers.
It doesn’t require the condition of perfection.
It only asks you to show up.
And do your best.
That you stay present and feel fully.
That you shine and fly and laugh and cry and hurt and heal
and fall and get back up and play and work and live and die as You.
It’s plenty.” ~ Courtney A. Walsh
Awakening to love, and reconnecting with your heart, is living with presence, bravery and vulnerability. It’s a willingness to accept it all, moment to moment — the good times, the painful times, the perfections, the fuck-ups, the triumphs and the spectacular failures.
And it’s also knowing that we are all in this together — this crazy little thing called Love.
Leonie Orton is a blogger who writes intimate stories about life. She is also a freelance copywriter and editor working with people and businesses that make the world a better place. She’s also a mother, flower-loving, get-her-hands-dirty-veggie-gardening, coffee-drinking, Yoga-teaching, sometimes swearing, adventurous and passionate woman of too many words. You can get in touch with her via her website and Facebook, or sign up at her weekly(ish) blog.