I woke up to a 3-alarm fire in my little town last night. Heard the sirens as the vehicles rushed past beneath my bedroom window and I figured they were headed somewhere far away.
I checked the local Facebook page and learned the fire was a block away from my little home.
I dressed and went outside into the dark and it was such a thing to experience, the flames were two stories high, as my neighbors wandered around at midnight watching and wondering how to feel.
Everyone is safe and a prominent and beloved local business was burned to the ground and is now gone. The apartments above, homes, also gone.
I thought of impermanence. I felt my ability to embrace how things come and go like this, overnight. The art of learning to let go takes tremendous courage and great skill.
It's a process. And humans need each other for that process.
As this community where I've lived deals with this loss, I'm thinking of ways to share my skills as a good listener to help people process the event and their grief. The loss of this staple business and the impact on the community.
And I feel afraid. I feel afraid to be seen. I've been sort of hiding out here, moving around and not really getting involved or even going out much. It's part of how I've dealt with all my trauma these past few years. It's so far from who I used to be when I used to LIVE HERE AND LOVE MY LIFE. Now it feels so scary and sometimes impossible. It's easier for me to stand in front of a group of people at one of my talks or events in New York than to be standing beside someone getting coffee in this tiny town.
Because the intimacy triggers me. It reminds me of being loved and losing. It reminds me of the things people have said to me that felt invasive and hurtful. It reminds me of feeling invisible when I desperately needed help.
It reminds me of the fearful act of merely being alive.
But all those triggers are the sharp points to lean into. Otherwise, we spend our whole lives leaning away from pain and never fully embracing it. We construct little mental cocoons where we feel safe but never fully comfortable. I lived in one for years. I felt cramped and self-conscious.
So I know how many human beings feel each and every day of their lives, as we confront the fear of being seen for who we are, wherever we are, whatever we do. This never frightened me before which allowed me such great freedom before it was time for me to feel the fear that's fueled by shame. But shame isn't all bad. It actually is a sign that we're awake and we're seeing life as it really is. It's a sign of our potential to evolve, it shows us where we can do more work to be our best self. We just have to keep the shame in check and make sure we aren't using it to work against us more than FOR us.
It's something only we can shift for ourselves, seeing how shame and suffering limit the light and love we can send and receive. We shift this in service to and with others, coming first from love for ourselves.
There's so much nuance to navigate to make sure we're not using other people to hide from caring for ourselves. Putting them or work first and saying, "it's love."
Real love never limits as it's unlimited.
So I'll offer to listen or lend my love in other ways to nurture more unlimited love in the world.
If we all started in our local communities, generating ripples where we live and work each and every day, love just becomes who we ARE.