It depends on the messenger

Recently, I was in a conversation with someone (and I will call her Sally) who needed objectivity and unbiased feedback. Sally and I met while attending a meet-and-mingle for female writers event in Hollywood a few months ago. Because we aren’t friends, per se, I knew I was in a position to be impartial. After listening for a short while, I started noticing subtle nuances of her story that coincided with mine years ago. Her primary struggle, she had started out telling me, was that she needed to leave a man but felt she wasn’t ready to leave him. Moreover, I heard in her story that there were other dynamics that I believe were keeping her stuck. I know this for sure: there could be no turning point if she didn’t confront at least one of her pressing obstacles. I had already lived through some of her personal struggles. Life will always test us with various trials and tribulations. Trying to avoid them merely prolongs getting passed them, and the feelings about those trials and tribulations have a way of intensifying.

In the course of our conversation I suggested that she read A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson. On occasion, when someone complains or whines or is sharing personal details with me that in my mind are less the source but more the symptom of their issue, my social science background kicks in and I try to ascertain what that person isn’t saying more so than what they are saying. Likewise, we are too intimate with our own personal story. This blocks us from recognizing that often what we are saying we’re struggling with is not necessarily the origin of our in-the-moment emotional and/or psychological angst.

I recall, when first introduced to Marianne’s book in 1993 and after having read it, discovered that I was too preoccupied with my wants and avoiding what I needed, and perhaps more superficial than I realized at the time. A Return to Love, as well as meditation, was how I began to look another way. There was no immediate epiphany or anything like that; in fact, the change was quiet, subtle. Change is never glaring. Especially personal transformation. It took a few years, and leaving L.A., to apply some of the messages in the best seller. Because I wanted to evolve, steadily I began to pay attention to how me-me-me-ish I was. How self-involved. What I discovered was that whenever I wasn’t living in L.A., I was less one-dimensional, and I could hear the sound of my tender heartbeat. When I first read A Return to Love, I was young yet not naïve; and less sure of myself than I was shallow.

Something I said about the book must have resonated with her, because Sally wrote down the title and said she’d “definitely” download the book. Before we ended our conversation, I shared with her that since returning to L.A. I discovered that getting on your knees isn’t the way out; it’s a way in. She responded with, “Hmmm, I don’t think I relate to that. What does that mean? What does that do? Because my situation isn’t that radical. I don’t need to ‘fall to my knees.’ ”

Within a week I received an e-mail from Sally. She was letting me know that she’d just finished reading A Return to Love. Because it didn’t take long for her to get through the book, I took that to mean that something about the ideology affected her enough to consider a new path. New paths, like personal transformation, generally don’t reveal themselves straightaway. But there comes a time when we are fully aware of something being a “used to.” I even thought Sally might benefit from Marianne’s lectures which are available each week via Livestream. I decided to forward the Livestream login from a lecture Marianne had this week in New York. Friday morning, and just one day later, I was perusing my in-box and came across an e-mail from Sally, and this is what her e-mail stated: Ms. B! Thank you for introducing me to Marianna Williamson. She is so relatable. I really needed to hear someone tell me, ‘Nothing is a failure if it took you to your knees.’

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