October 01, 2004
Access to Fragility
The awesome mountains of Ladakh that have surrounded me for the last three months have motivated me to make the difficult and frightening ascent out of the protected valley where I have lived my life to the summit of the tallest peak to see what lies beyond. Believing that all of the introspective work I have done over the last few months and years have prepared me for this expedition, and being presented with the perfect opportunity and context to take this challenge now, I valiantly started my trek from base camp.
I was fortunate to have received guidance from a brilliant and talented healer who assisted me in charting and pursuing my course with accuracy and efficiency. At every turn I was met by people, animals, events, emotions, stories, books and Buddhist teachings that confirmed in my heart that I was headed in the right direction. Yet as the trajectory got steeper and my physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual resources became increasingly challenged, I questioned whether this journey was a wise one and if I had the will to endure the unforeseen hurdles that still lied ahead. When I turned around to find the path back to the life I have known I realized my tracks had been lost and I was left with little choice but to see through my commitment to get to the other side. Thus I turned around once more and lifted my head only to see the flags marking the top of the mountain flickering just ahead of me.
These last three months have been the most challenging and rewarding period of this trip and possibly of my entire life. The process of identifying the greatest depths of suffering experienced by my body, soul, psyche, and inner child has been surreal, making it impossible to describe in words that others could understand, and inhibiting me from calling on friend and family for the type of support I so desperately desired. While it was a process that I largely had to undergo on my own, I depended on images and memories of friends and family to connect me with my heart where the painful and therapeutic work needed to be done. Consequently I have never felt more connected and simultaneously isolated from the people dearest to me.
Once as a small child I pursued love with no inhibition only to be met by a simple ěnoî that shattered my courage, self-worth, and faith in my loving instincts. While I have intellectually realized the negative impact of this incident on my life for some time now, it is only in the last few months that I have unearthed the imprints of this event on my heart and soul and the physical and social habits I have unconsciously developed to prevent the pain of this or any other similar experience from surfacing.
I am now faced with the task of altering the way I carry myself and interact with people, particularly those that I perceive as threats to my emotional safety ń the same people that have the greatest potential to provide me with the experience of love I have been longing for. As I take this on my mind shifts to a photo I took while living in South Africa. The image is one of a young, rural, African woman, leaning on the headboard of a bed, which is situated next to a window in her mud hut. A gentle breeze rustles the curtain as she looks off into the distance deep in thought, pulling the warmth of her blanket close to her body. I titled this image ěFragilityî as this woman maintains a softness and femininity even while surrounded by the textures of the very culture that colonized her country: the head board is striped, the curtain is lace and the blanket is plaid. The fragility I am referring to is not one of something easily breakable but the seeming quality of delicacy that is usually associated with women and the human spirit. I say ěseeminglyî as beneath the tender exterior one can often find a resiliency and durability beyond imagination, if they only bother to look. This has always been one of my favorite photos, and was displayed prominently above my bed back home, not because I ever felt I could relate to this woman but because I always wanted to.
Over this past summer I seem to have unearthed my own tender, feminine and fragile side and when I have allowed it to surface, have experienced magic, compassion, relatedness, and intimacy that I have never known before. These moments and exchanges made me think that perhaps I had completed what I have come on this journey for and thus it was time to head home. Then I realized that I did not make this difficult climb to simply view the valley and mountains beyond and then revert back to where I came from. From here I have become aware of experiences that I have never known or only heard of, and to simply return to locations and people that are familiar would, in the end, not enable my future to be much different from my past. Thus I am starting the second half of my journey, one that is destined to discover the safe, loving and joyous haven within myself that I will call my new home.
Posted by Jyllt at October 1, 2004 01:54 PM