The monarch butterfly emerged from her chrysalis yesterday. My apology for fuzzy focus, I was a little awe struck by her beauty and mystery
If I had to identify one key theme of my life in the past two years it would be this: it is harder to let go than to hold on, even when what we are clinging to is obviously doing us no damn good.
When I learned about Mr. B's abduction I was overwhelmed not only by fear and concern for him but also by a terrible wave of guilt. The guilt washed in like a heavy rain cloud stealing the sunny moments from my day. As I walked home from the coast along the ridge of Wellington's stunning "green belt" - surrounded on all sides by vistas of harbour, hills and native bush - I would be about to lose myself in a moment of pure bliss when a voice in my head would berate me.
"How can you be so happy when we are still suffering?"
"What about us?"
"Don't you care about us at all?"
"Have you forgotten about us?"
And beneath it all this insidious message:
"If you let yourself go fully and enjoy this moment then you will forget about us"
Quietly, quietly this week I have come to recognise that I was hanging onto the guilt for fear that if I let it go I would also let go of them. I was afraid of becoming like so many other people, so wrapped up in my own world, my own happiness and comfort (or lack thereof), that I would stop caring about them.
All the people I've met in Afghanistan, Timor-Leste and Palestine whose lives continue to be insecure, poor and relentlessly harsh. All the people I worked with who are still there, working through the cold, dark winter to bring a little relief, to provide a little security. All the people I have never met but whose conflict and natural disaster afflicted worlds are more real to me some days than this fantasy land we live in here in New Zealand.
I'm terrified of forgetting them. But how could I ever forget them? Seriously. It's impossible, right? But I've been so afraid of it that I've been clinging to my guilt as a kind of reminder. Every time I get too close to relaxing into joy, pleasure and fun my guilt kicks in like one of those electric shocks that scientists give to rats in aversion response research.
"Oh - look at that amazing sunrise over the south coast. Feel the sun on my skin. Feel the amazing freedom of walking: alone and safe. Revel in the pleasure of the moment. This is perfection. This is bliss."
ZAP - guilt
"Ouch. Oh, no. I was forgetting them. I was forgetting how terrible the world is for a moment. Thank goodness for guilt. This way I'll never forget."
I'm a little bit crazy like that. I guess we all are. Hanging onto guilt, fear, pain just because we are afraid of what might happen if we let it go.
Realising that I was choosing to hold onto the guilt because of this fear of forgetting, together with realising that it is impossible for me to ever forget, has helped me begin to let it go. Little by little I've been letting go of the guilt. Letting myself relax into the joyful moments. The joy of walking free and safe along the hill behind my own house. Those are the freedoms for which I would fight for any other person. So I guess I can let myself enjoy them without guilt.
PS: No confirmed news of Mr. B but thanks to HiK for her report that he may still be alive and being held. I'm holding onto that hope.