I have been reading a new book called “Falling Upward” by Richard Rohr and essentially it’s about, as the book jacket describes:

“In the first half of life, we are naturally and rightly preoccupied with establishing our identity — climbing, achieving, and performing. But those concerns will not serve us as we grow older and begin to embark on a further journey. One that involves challenges, mistakes, loss of control, broader horizons, and necessary suffering that actually shocks us out of our prior comfort zone. Eventually, we need to see ourselves in a different and more life-giving way. This message of “falling down” — that is in fact moving upward — is the most resisted and counterintuitive of messages in the world’s religions, including and most especially Christianity.”

If I’ve experienced anything in the past three years, it has been this. Reading the book affirms so much of what I’ve been learning. And though it may sound bad in some ways, actually it is good! It actually is great. The years of pain and sadness have given way to wanting to share in the deeper truths that I have been learning. This morning, in a chapter called “A Bright Sadness” from the book, I read this:

At this stage, I no longer have to prove that I or my group is the best, that my ethnicity is superior, that my religion is the only one God loves, or that my role and place in society deserve superior treatment. I am not preoccupied with collecting more goods and services, quite simply, my desire and effort — every day — is to pay back, to give back to the world a bit of what I have received. I now realize that I have been gratuitously given to — from the universe, from society, and from God. I try now, as Elizabeth Seton said, ‘to live simply so that others can simply live.'”

This is a big shift in my consciousness because for so many years I craved “specialness” and recognition. And I wanted stuff. I bought “stuff” and though it brought me very little satisfaction or joy, I still wanted it. (This is not to say that I would turn down any presents that anyone wants to give me. Ever.) But “stuff” isn’t a priority. I love being curious about life now. I love the life I’m living and much of the thanks go to all the spiritual teachers I’ve encountered along the way. It started with Mike Eigen (a therapist who writes a lot about spirituality) and continued with Pema Chodron, who I believe saved my life, and Eckhart Tolle, and Regena Thomashauer, and Friends In Deed, and then my dance teachers and too many others to name. I’m not quite sure where it’s all leading, but it definitely feels like a move upward – and outward. It feels that it is about paying back and giving to the world a bit of what I’ve received.

4 Thoughts on “Falling Upward

  1. Hi Robin,
    Just 2 weeks ago, my husband of 25 years abruptly ended our marriage with three small words: “I’m leaving you.” In my grief and search for answers, I stumbled upon your blog (HPost). You wouldn’t believe how comforting it has been to me. Even though I’m still in the shock phase and hanging onto my life by a thread, I find your story encouraging because you seem like a very perseptive soul. I am a writer too, primary caregiver of my 90 year old mom, mother to 2 university grads, human mom to a mini-wiener dog, and until 2 weeks ago, happy contented wife of a wonderful man. I will someday, release my pain and confusion and fears through posting to my own blog, but for now, I’m journaling in private and getting strength to carry on from people like you.

  2. Charlotte, thank you so much for writing to me and I am so sorry that you are going through this very difficult time. It’s so recent, I remember how painful it was for me that first year. If you go back to April or May 2009 you can read through some of my struggles and know that you are not alone. It does get better, but it takes time and for me it helped to really talk about it and cry, and hit a pillow and let it out. Please stay in touch. Life is so much better now, but it really took a lot of work and “the only way out is through.” You will find so much strength you didn’t know you had.

  3. Robin, I resonate with the giving back aspect of your post. For me, a healthy 67 year old, this means taking care of my embodied and emotional self so I have something worth giving and the energy to give it.
    Thank you,

  4. A really good point, Elaine. I, too, believe in taking care of myself so I have the energy to give back.

    I also love being able to do things I love – not just the things “I should do.” Bike riding, dancing, and long walks have replaced hours in the gym. I will probably have to go back to the gym for some of the winter months, but now I let myself do the things I love, rather than just what is “good for me.” And I think back to what I loved as a child, bike riding and dancing were two of my favorite things.

    And of course, taking time for meditation and reading also “refills the cup.” Thanks for your comments – they are always appreciated.

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