“You are a piece of work,” my physical therapist said lovingly.
I would be a liar to deny it.
Sometimes, this phrase, this being “a piece of work” might be a put down; other times, it is a grand anointing of a strong, deep, and independent spirit.
There are many things to which I am committed. Being a piece of work is one of them. I’m committed to personal growth and to learning how to see with more than the eyes and hear with more than the ears. I’m committed to the mystery of the heart. Yet, there are areas where I have run away from commitment.
He’s a runner and he’ll run away… Woman ain’t been born who can make and stay… Woman get away while you can
Several decades ago, the late singer-songwriter, Laura Nyro wrote these words and sang them. At the time, I embraced the song as an anthem for women who fall in love with men who can’t — or won’t — make a commitment. After a while, it felt like I could apply those words to me.
Ms. Nyro’s song was at the forefront of my mind this morning as I sat with my tea to have a chat with God. Chats with the Divine work for me.
I’ve tended to see romantic commitment rather like the Loma Prieta earthquake that I experienced in the San Francisco Bay area in 1989. Well, maybe that’s a little harsh. It’s more like those subtle movements of the earth that rattled the dishes on my shelf as I sat quietly in the morning. The sounds were enough to get my attention, but not enough to force me to commit to action. In the case of the earthquakes, that would be to move the hell to another state. In relationship to people, it might be to engage in a lasting relationship.
“I just got a call from my girlfriend. I’ve known her since kindergarten.”
I stared at my friend. How on God’s earth could someone know a person since kindergarten? I felt sad. I could not think of one person I was in touch with that I knew since kindergarten. Or middle school. Or high school. Not a single person.
But I remember the kindness of teachers, vice principals, and principles; I remember the compassion of school counselors. I remember Mrs. Bowie in first grade and her kind, generous concern for children like me whose home life had some very rocky places. I remember Mrs. Gaines, the Vice Principal in my middle school. She was a dark skinned woman with short cropped natural hair at a time when such a style was unpopular. Some of the students (nope, don’t remember a single one of their names…) called her King Kong behind her back. But she was kind to me and smiled and encouraged me often. I remember these kindnesses.
And I realize, where my commitment lies. I am committed to the transforming power of kindness.
In 1985, I met a meditation teacher from India, and I found a spiritual path where my heart leaped to commitment. In one moment, everything changed for me. I became committed to meditation, singing songs to God, and offering service to myself, my community, and God. I became more anchored in my commitment to loving kindness.
29 years later, I am still on the path and experiencing commitment to the Heart. However, in order to recognize my commitment to kindness, I have had to make mistakes that were unkind. I have had to rebound, redirect myself to my commitment to do no harm. This includes loving kindness to myself with the words I use (you know, that self talk thing…) and the actions I take.
I am in physical recovery forever. Whether I walk, run, cook, or perform, I will always be conscious of what I eat, the amount of energy I exert, and of things or people that suck my energy. I am a piece of work. Healing takes commitment. It takes a commitment to faith and a commitment to action.
Yes, I am a piece of work in progress. I am the rock from which Michelangelo is carving David.