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The Beauty of Learning and Re-Learning

Marilyn had spent many hours sitting at the bedside of her dying mother. . .most of the time Marilyn’s mother remained unconscious. . .One morning before dawn, she suddenly opened her eyes and looked clearly and intently at her daughter. “You know,” she whispered softly, “all my life I thought something was wrong with me”. Shaking her head slightly, as if to say, “what a waste”, she closed her eyes and drifted back into a coma.-

–From the Book Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach

I think I have read this quote a million times, ok maybe more like 25 but still I have read it frequently and every time I read it takes my breath away.  Such a tragic statement–but so universal.  How many of us walk through life thinking something is wrong with us??  That we aren’t strong enough, happy enough, smart enough , cute enough etc. What amazes me most about this quote is that every time I read it I have the same wow moment, the same feeling of tragedy and sadness and then the same thought of I don’t want this to happen to me.  And then I go forth in my life, having good days and bad days and a few months later I pick up this book, read this line and think Oh my–that is so profound…I don’t want that to happen to me and I have a similar ‘ah-ha’ moment.  Discouraging no?  I would actually argue no–well I would actually argue yes with a caveat.  Yes, it  can be discouraging that sometimes we need to be reminded repeatedly about an old lesson.  It can be discouraging that we feel like we are re-learning things over and over.   In reality, we are what I call spiraling up–we might be learning the same lesson again–but we are only learning bits of it again, not the whole lesson.  Now we are learning the lesson from where we are now vs where we were before.

The first time I read Tara’s book Radical Acceptance the whole notion that I was lovable, worth valuable period was radical.  I remember writing it down on a piece of paper and looking at it each morning with a sense of wonder.  I couldn’t imagine a day when I wouldn’t think something was wrong with me.  Today I read that quote and I am reminded of the times that I feel something is wrong with me, they come in from time to time but they don’t stick around for days or weeks on end.  The concept that I am lovable as is–isn’t foreign or new to me, it is something that I may need a gentle reminder about from time to time.  So each time I read this quote I am reading it with new eyes, a fresh look at a familiar topic. An reminder of an old lesson from a new place.

This quote serves to remind us is that we all have these thoughts, we all think we are unworthy and unlovable.  What I spend a majority of my job doing is helping people figure out not what they want to do for a career but helping them get out of their own way, helping them believe they are worthy of having a career that makes their heart sing.  And I do believe fear, doubt and pain are all part of the human condition. As are hope, excitement, joy, desire, passion and happiness.  The key is experiencing both–finding the yin and yang experiencing the pain without letting it hold us back from embracing the the joy and happiness.

So here is to spiraling up and embracing the learning and re-learning that happens every day!! Here’s to changing the notion from something is wrong with me to I am a wonderful work in progress, learning and re-learning every day!!

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