On Love and Weed Eaters

“We need courage, not fight”- Lucia Cavanna, age 4

Greetings from sunny Colorado!

I’d like to take a moment and share a little story about a weed eater.

So, I drove my gas powered weed eater out from California over a month ago to deal with my overgrown back yard. It hadn’t been started in a few years, but I was happy to be using it again. I put gas in it, and it wouldn’t start. No problem… I went on youtube and looked up common fixes. I opened it up, replaced a filter, changed the gas and… it wouldn’t start. No problem… I researched more, thought it might be the spark plug, took it to the local hardware store and asked the repair guy to look at it. It was spring and he was swamped with other weed eaters and said it would be two weeks before he could look at it, but he agreed it might be the spark plug… or the carburetor. No problem… I bought a new spark plug and ordered the cheapest carburetor I could find from Amazon. Meanwhile the grass in the back yard is thigh high and my wife suggests maybe we should just order the electric one like our neighbor using. I tell her its no problem and I replace the spark plug, but it won’t start…. so I wait for my lowest priced carburetor to come from China. I finally get tired of waiting and order another one that will come in two days. I get my new carburetor and replace the old one, feeling very proud of my handiness. I change the gas again and…it still won’t run. Hmmm. Meanwhile, the grass is getting even taller and my wife is looking more skeptical. No problem… maybe if I just wait a day or two it will magically start? Actually… maybe I should check out electric ones after all? I order one that is well reviewed, it’s there in a few days, and soon all the “weeds” in the yard are eaten. Then the carburetor arrives from China.

More and more I’m noticing these truths: There is a lot to do, we need a lot of help and we don’t need to waste energy making life any harder than it already is. And yet, that is what so many of us do. 

Why do we make it harder? Why can’t we let go and change direction when a plan isn’t working? Why do we choose to fight rather than asking for and receiving help?

Perhaps it’s because changing course is vulnerable.

Many of us will continue along an unhelpful and limiting path rather than feel the shame of admitting it’s time to change direction. We make being right more important than being relieved… and that is a cold comfort. 

Sure, we can examine how our behavioral patterns get established in early childhood. We can gain insight into how growing up in an overly critical or unsupportive environment causes us to avoid any expression of uncertainty or vulnerability. Those insights have value. But insight is different than courage. Courage is the ability to move forward from the heart with fear as a close companion. 

Often, we’d rather stay in the familiar fight than feel the fear of the unknown.

I, for example, was more comfortable struggling with the dead-end task of reviving the weed eater than dealing with the new experience of a rapidly growing jungle in my back yard.

But moving forward always means moving into the new and unknown and requires the willingness to open to BOTH future relief and potential hurt. I started out talking about a weed eater, but this is so pertinent to intimate relationships. For example, if you let someone really help you, you are also opening to the potential to be hurt by them. Opening to more life honestly might mean ANYTHING: more ease, more love, death, birth, suffering, success, an overgrown backyard, bigger and better challenges….

For this “we need courage, not fight.” My daughter Lucia said this the other day and it’s become a mantra for our family. Moving forward is not a fight because you can’t effectively fight what’s unknown. Moving forward is an opening of the heart. 

Part of my work is to help people open to and access their souls’ courage in the midst of feelings of alienation and overwhelm. I help them to move into their unknown future which gives me the courage to move forward too. So many people think they should be able to do this on their own. But for many of us, “doing it alone” keeps us stuck in the familiar and habitual struggles while a whole brilliant and unknown world awaits. (There are electric weed eaters?!?)

Wishing you all the best,

Matthew

June 7, 2018

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