Here are two common scenarios for me:
Scenario One: A Friend or Client is Stuck
This happens to me a lot and I guess it is an “occupational hazard” of sorts, but people come to tell me their stories when they feel stuck. Many of my clients and students have tried everything, gone to every doctor, had all the tests, done all the treatments and they still don’t have the results they desired or the well-being that they were hoping for. I have friends that tell me about their stuck feelings in jobs, work relationships, personal relationships and just how they feel in their lives at this moment. In many cases, though not all, a path to freedom seems clear to me, the observer. When I first started this work, I was so delighted when I saw such a clear path because I assumed that if I could communicate it, then my clients could folllow my vision and get free fast. But, what I immediately realized is that the clear path has always been present for my friend or client and for some reason, they aren’t going to walk down it. Each of us has to keep putting one foot in front of the other and find that next step on our own. In many ways, this has been my greatest challenge as an integrative health coach—-learning to walk beside my client offering insight and clarity, but not getting so attached to the “results”.
Scenario Two: I Am Stuck
Oh yes, I get stuck in the ditch of life myself quite often. And, when I am down there in the darkness of the ditch, all I want is for someone to yank me out and say, “Girl, THIS is what you have to do right now.” I want someone to provide me with direction, the next step, the right thing to do to get out of the ditch and back on level ground. Except, just as in the case with my clients and friends, I also know that I would be unlikely to just accept and follow that advice, even if some magical force did yank me out of the ditch and tell me what to do. It’s likely that I’m down there in the ditch with a shiny and solid ladder right in front of my face. Why am I not climbing the ladder? I don’t know. Why aren’t you climbing the ladder in front of you? You don’t know.
I AM THE DOOR
We don’t climb the ladder for a lot of reasons, but it is likely because of a spiritual issue, a karmic matter or a soul condition. I don’t like to talk like this because we all want scientifically proven and documented treatments, cures and methods. I don’t like to talk like this because as much as I am confident that it is true, I don’t actually know what it means. All I know is that if you are down in a ditch, that there is a ladder in front of you and you aren’t climbing it because divine order wants you to sit down there a little longer. Who knows “why”? Maybe Divine Order wants you to climb up that ladder at the precise moment that you would meet someone walking along who will change your life in a profound way? Maybe you need to be a certain age or have a certain amount of experience before you can accept what is at the top of that ladder? It’s absolutely maddening to be in relationship with someone who isn’t climbing their ladder. You know the friend I’m talking about, the friend who does nothing, day in and day out, but complain about their awful job, but they haven’t even dusted off the old resume to even consider a new job search. Or, whatever it is…….joyless lovers, sullen sisters, tempestuous rascals….ditch dwellers! All of them!
That’s why I can’t shout enough about how much I love, adore, admire and am inspired by these church doors in Philadelphia! The ones that say, as if these red doors weren’t flipping obvious enough even to the legally blind, I AM THE DOOR. Just in case you were wondering how to get in there, the path to God, to figuring out your relationship with the Divine with a capital “D”, you FOOL with a capital “F”—-I AM THE DOOR. Because, this is the nature of the human condition. The human condition is that all that we need is right in front of us, but we need to walk through the door, we need to take action.
The key though is not to think that the fact that the door is obvious makes it “easy” to walk through it. If we aren’t ready, we can walk in and out of the doors as much as we like, but we will still feel stuck. They key is being open to inspiration, transformation and the energetic shift required to open to joy. This is the radical reason why we don’t do anything that is good for us. I tell people I’m a yoga teacher and they generally have one of three responses:
- Oh, I’m not flexible. I can’t even touch my toes! I can’t do yoga.
- Oh, yoga……I NEED yoga. I should do yoga. Really, I am supposed to do yoga.
- I love yoga. I take yoga classes all the time.
Yoga IS a transformative practice. For the record, you don’t need to be flexible and touching your toes is neither a measurement of general flexibility nor relevant to the practice of yoga. But, the second response is interesting because it means to me that the person talking knows on some level that practicing yoga would be transformative for them, but they don’t do it. They are choosing not to walk through the door. The unlocked door just sits there, closed in the cobwebs of their conciousness, but they aren’t going to approach it and open the door. They don’t want to know. “Knowing” doesn’t solve any problems and it might just create additional ones. Yes, doing yoga can cause a lot of problems. Walking through the door, coming up on the ladder—it’s messy, ugly and potentially going to rock the quiet little rowboat of your life.
My favorite is when people tell me that they “can’t meditate” because as soon as they sit down their mind starts to race. News flash! You know what this means? It means that your mind is CONSTANTLY racing and you are just letting the distractions of life keep you from this fact. Your mind didn’t start racing when you sat down, it’s just that you finally took a moment to observe your mind. That racing mind of yours is causing all kinds of problems for you under the surface. And, I’d venture a guess that it is causing all kinds of problems for you in your relationships, at work, with your diet and with your satisfaction with life. You are eating when you aren’t hungry, making agreements you don’t agree to, buying things you don’t really want or need, signing gym contracts when you’ll never see the inside of that locker room, going on that second date with that guy who had too many drinks on your first date but you are really hoping it isn’t a problem and yet you know that it IS a problem…………..Yes, I’m suggesting that you sit there all uncomfortable with your mind racing and your stomach in knots and your shoulders all tied up and tense around your ears and your breath shallow and unsatisfying in your chest. Just sit there and suffer. Because that suffering is your door. You can’t medicate it, avoid it, distract yourself from it, circumambulate it—all you can do is be with it. Go through it. See it. It’s just as obvious as the fact that the red door is the door, yet that church leadership knows that they need to make it plain and simple regardless of how obvious it is.
I AM THE DOOR.
Written by Sharon Fennimore, a rogue anthropologist based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I love to travel, take walks and seek inspiration in my environment. When I find something interesting, I share it on my blog and Facebook page: Pilgrimage Pittsburgh.