I’m really excited to show you the (very) short story I just wrote about my Dad, along with the insight that arose from it.
First though, a quick courtesy reminder for anyone who is considering coming to the Poetry As a Spiritual Practice Retreat–the deadline for registering is TODAY because tomorrow we have to give Mercy Center our numbers for lunch (which is included in the tuition) So, please register now if you’re coming:
Now, back to the story:
If you’ve read my book or attended one of my workshops you know I talk a lot about the power of the stories we tell ourselves.
The stories we create–stories about what has happened to us in the past, why people are doing what they are doing, and what’s possible for us–those stories are everything, really. Those stories, and the feelings they generate, create our reality.
Which is why I was very excited to enroll in the Story of You online class created by Ria Sharon and Jen Lemen of HopefulWorld.org. It’s all about discovering, and maybe rewriting, our inner stories.
My intention for the Story of You class has been to rediscover a sense of safety in the world as I speak from and act out of my truth.
Because, for reasons unknown, I have been grappling with insecurities and fears I thought I’d outgrown.
I was really confused by the intensity of those feelings, and I also knew that the “why” was less important than writing some new stories.
Yesterday Jen and Ria gave us an exercise to write about something that had happened in our lives. So as I was taking my morning walk, I started asking myself “what stories from my life could I focus on that would give me a sense of safety in the world?”
And then I remembered my experience at the bus station:
It shouldn’t have been so scary.
I was not a child anymore, after all. I was 23 and home from law school for the holidays (though I had an apartment in St. Louis, back then I still considered wherever my parents were living to be “home”). My boyfriend was visiting his own parents a few hours away. I was going to take the bus to meet him for New Year’s Eve and then we would drive back together in a few days in his car.
It had seemed like a wonderful plan.
Until the reality of this particularly gritty, nearly empty bus station in the city. My sheltered suburban mind had not pictured such a place as a launching pad for the trip.
There were a few people milling around, none of whom appeared to work there. No police. No security guards. Just a few men in threadbare clothes who looked like they might not have bathed, shaved or eaten much in recent days. One guy was sleeping on a bench; I wondered if he had spent the night there.
My Dad asked if I wanted him to stay, and I wanted to say, “Jesus, yes! Have you looked at this place? You wouldn’t really let me wait here alone, would you?”
But I was an adult now. Almost a lawyer. A woman of the world, off to meet her lover. Bravado was more appropriate, so I insisted that he leave. “The bus will be here soon, Dad. Don’t be silly. I’m fine!”
As soon as he disappeared around the corner I wanted to call out for him to come back, but I was too embarrassed. I sat there alone, trying hard to look worldly. Nonchalant. Unapproachable.
I must have checked my watch 37 times over the next 15 minutes.
And then, he was there again. My Dad. A knowing smile in his eyes and a white waxy bag in his hand.
“I saw this doughnut shop down the street and I know how much you love caramel long johns. I thought you might be hungry and I would rather eat mine with you than in the car.”
He brought me a taste of home, enjoyed in a companionable silence on the dirty bus station bench.
I carried the relief and happiness and sense of safety with me all the way to Springfield, and back to law school, and into the rest of my life.
As I was thinking about that story, and remembering how safe and happy I felt, I realized that it has been almost 5 years since my Dad left his body.
You wouldn’t think this would come as such a profound insight, because I have actively missed Dad, and grieved him, written about him and talked about him so often.
But thinking about this story helped me see that my Dad’s presence in my life had given me a sense that I was safe, that someone was cheering me on (no matter what), that someone was always looking out for me. That someone would always understand. And his death ripped my sense of safety apart.
And somehow, since then, I’ve been living with the unconscious storythat I can’t hold my own in a world without my Dad in it.
So now, my task is to take this insight, and apply the mantra Deepak Chopra offered to me this morning in meditation, “Everything I Desire Is Within Me,” to create a new inner story.
I need to find a way to re-create the sense of safety and love I got from my Dad’s presence. The safety that comes from walking with the Divine. The safety that has nothing to do with physical security, but a deeper knowing that no matter what is happening in my life, “everything I need is right here.”
May the peace of a loving parent be with you always,
And here’s the poetry retreat link one more time, in case you would like to join us: http://www.KimberlySchneider.
The Manifestation Maven