Listening Close

From the earliest I can remember, I have had a calling in my heart, pulling me towards the feminine.

From the earliest I can remember, other people have told me that the calling I have in my heart, pulling me towards the feminine, is sick, corrupt, perverse, disordered, rude, offensive, demonic, evil and just plain wrong.

My struggle was to be able to separate the voice of my heart and the voice of my ego.  What was good and godly, what was bad and indulgent?

This is, of course, the challenge for every human.

Often, we look for outside affirmation to determine the correct.   What does our family, our church, our peers, say about how to be right?

The people around us support the status quo, the tame, the compliant.    They want us to do what supports them, even if that means buying into their drama and secrets.

Our heart, though, supports the unique, the wild, the passionate.   It calls us to be brave and bold, singing our own song.

The world understands this, so they provide commercial substitutes for authentic, handmade Eros.   These substitutes, though, are designed to take over our desire and control it, often driving us to madness.

So how do we discern between ego and heart voices?

Here is what I have used my sharp brain to learn.

If the voice calls for staying firmly  in our comfort zone, for separation, for judgment, for control, for avoiding error, for being seen as cool, for instant gratification, for following the rules, for acting out, for creating walls between us and others, for rationalization, for fear, then the voice is from the ego.

If the voice calls for opening to challenge, for connection, for empathy & vulnerability, for surrender, for trying the new, for being seen as warm, for playing the long game, for doing the right thing, for healing, for opening our heart to the connections between us and others, for clarity, for love, then the voice is from the heart.

There is no one without ego.   You can’t walk in the world without defences.  Every one of us has to have the skills to be tame, to fit in, to be seen as appropriate.   To be human is to be social, and to be social is to be compliant with community standards.   The ego, playing for status and acceptance, isn’t inherently a bad thing.

There is no one without heart.  You can’t be human without having an individual vision.  Every one of us has a unique essence, some special calling to stand apart from the crowd.  to be human is to be special, and to be special is to have gifts that no one else can simply offer to the community.   The heart, playing for individual expression, isn’t inherently a bad thing.

A life without connecting with the group is lonely and difficult.

A life without connecting with our own heart is erasing and difficult.

Our life is built not of our words but rather it is built of our choices.   When someone expresses an intent that is not reflected in the choices that they are making, it is easy to take those words as just blather.

It is through our choices that we learn to separate the good from the bad, learn to know what fills our heart and what merely tries to stuff the holes.  Facing our own demons — slaying the dragon with “Thou Shalt” on every scale — is hard damn work, but in the long term of a human life, it is the world we are called to do.   They are, in the end, our demons, and if we want to grow up. only we can wrestle with them, no matter how much we want parental surrogates to do that work for us.

Cynicism and judgment may feel easy and cool, but they not only separate us from others, they also separate us from our own tender, beautiful and human heart.

The only way I could learn to identify the profane and the holy inside of me was to learn to listen close to my own babble so I could learn to break through the noise and find the meaning.

One of the first steps in this process was to learn to listen to others, to be smart enough to learn from their mistakes.  Their choices may have pushed my own emotional buttons, but not nearly as powerfully as my own choices, wrapped in my own pain and rationalizations, pushed those buttons.  By starting with others lessons, I learned how to approach my own maelstrom, to pick through my own hells.

As long as I searched for affirmation from others, I had to focus on what I needed to hide or eliminate to get their acceptance.  I had a negative identity, centred on what was wrong with me that demanded rejection even of others.

When started to search for what is authentically me, I could then focus on what I could show to others, on what I found within myself, on choices based on integrity that I was proud of.  I have a positive identity, secure in my own heart, that lets me stay centred in acceptance, even of others who make choices that I would never make for myself.

That change is the real revelation, the true transition to a vibrant and open identity that allows me to heal and grow in the world.   I love it when others show graceful respect for my choices, but I don’t need to think about what I failed to hide or chop off when I don’t get their affirmation.

Life is, in the end, always beyond our control.   None of us can see around the curves ahead in our journey, and none of us can control the environment, the variables, other people or the outcomes.

The only thing we can control is our own choices.  The best way to do that, I have found, is by listening close to the chatter inside of me, separating out the fear from the love, and doing the best I can do in any given moment.   My choice will never be perfect, always be human and wrong, but it will come from the best I can muster rather than from the craven and controlling.

Tomorrow is, as Scarlett O’Hara reminds us, another day.  The future is, after all, where we are going to spend the rest of our lives.

For me, the long game requires believing in tomorrow even when today seems almost intolerable. That means believing in something, having confidence in something.

If I can’t believe that if I follow my heart and use my brain I can learn something, grow, heal and make better choices tomorrow by listening closer to the universe, then what can I believe in?   How can I trade the call for instant gratification of my passing desires for a long game in growth of my best self in the world?

I’m just human,  but to me, that means I have a bit of spiritual spark inside, something that can be honoured and developed past the weakness of flesh, but only if I am willing to listen closely and discern which choices open me to challenge, to connection, to empathy & vulnerability, to surrender, to trying the new, to being seen as warm, to playing the long game, to doing the right thing, to healing, to opening my heart to the connections between us and others, to clarity and to love.

That’s what I have learned.   And so endeth the sermon.