I find this so powerful. Forgiveness is the most precious gift that you can give yourself. Our anger can be so comforting, our pain is so familiar, and our outrage may even be justified but in the end the only way out of the hell of painful emotions is to forgive the person that you feel has wronged you. Anger, hurt, and pain are not strong foundations upon which to build a happy life. There is no miracle there. I am not pretending to have mastered this, but I work on it daily. I do not feel justified in judging others and being upset. I only feel miserable when I live in those emotions. Of course, people have hurt and disappointed me and I am sure that I have returned the favor. As long as I am living it will happen again, but I decide how that impacts me. I decide what their behavior means for my life. I allow myself to feel whatever I feel for a moment and then when I realize I have suffered enough, I choose to let it go and allow my experiences to make me a more loving, kinder, and wiser woman. That is the foundation that I choose to build upon and it starts with the choice to forgive. I choose to forgive every heartache, lie, disappointment, failure, and betrayal. I simultaneously choose to forgive myself for all my perceived imperfections and any wrong I have done to others. That is my path to peace. That is my path to miracles.
I wanted to tell a different story with Miracle. I wanted to tell a story that was not just about the historical tribulations and triumphs of a race and not just about experiences that could be considered culturally unique. Instead I attempted to tell a story that highlights the universality of the human experience.
A cursory glance at the shelves of your local bookstore will reveal that there are relatively few stories about children of color and most of the stories that do feature children of color are not written by authors of color. Mostly what you will find are stories about slaves, the civil rights movement, a particular cultural tradition, or a few individuals who achieved notoriety during their time for some special talent or invention. To be clear I think these stories are wonderful and necessary because they illustrate the triumph, love, and determination contained within the human spirit while teaching a history that may not be taught otherwise. However, I think that an unintended consequence is that these stories only allow the world to see us within a cultural vacuum that leaves out a vast majority of our experience while feeding certain negative stereotypes. It paints us in a light of always struggling, always downtrodden, and always disadvantaged. While that it is a part of our experience it is not the only part.
If we want to reshape how the world sees us we must redefine how WE tell our story. We must have children’s stories featuring African-American characters that are about playing at the park, figuring out how to navigate the trials and tribulations of kindergarten, getting a new puppy, and our little sister that gets on our nerves. We must have stories about the human experience not just the African-American experience. That is part of the reason why I chose to write a story featuring an African-American character that is not overtly about race or any one cultural experience but instead it is about the universal thirst and seeking that are intrinsically woven into the human spirit. It was important for me to have a story that could be true for any race, sex, gender, religious belief, or sexual orientation. Perhaps, in some way this will help us control the narrative and help the world to see that we are human first and everything else is secondary.
I would like to share an excerpt from The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer. I was fortunate enough to read the entire poem when I was much younger. It really resonated with me then and now. It is the way I try to live my life. I find it to be a more meaningful way of being. Perhaps you will as well.
It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive . . .
I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human . . .
I want to know if you can see beauty even when it’s not pretty, every day, and if you can source your own life from its presence.
I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes!” . . .
Buy the book Opening the Invitation to read the entire poem and story behind its creation. It is definitely worth it.
“Happiness is letting go…” Sounds simple enough, right? But does letting go mean that you have failed at your relationship, your career, your parenting, your dream? I think that what most people find difficult about letting go is that it somehow feels like admitting defeat and accepting failure. It feels as though you’re admitting you were wrong about that thing of which you were absolutely certain. You know that thing that was so important to you that you poured all your love, energy, and resources into it? That thing that you were absolutely sure would bring you happiness? Yes, that thing. Let it go. For me all of the above feels true. Letting go feels like failure. It feels like defeat. It feels like giving up on what really matters most to me. In my heart, I know that is not true. In my heart, I know that the truth in letting go simply means that I cannot be attached to the outcome I decided was correct. It means internalizing my happiness because I know that nothing outside of me ultimately has control over how I experience my life. It means that the “thing” has served its purpose and delivered me to the next phase of my life. It doesn’t mean that I have failed or even that I have to stop trying. It simply means that holding on to what I think it should be keeps me from being grateful for the miracle that lies in accepting what it actually is and then ultimately letting it go.
A former co-worker of mine used to always tell me, “Life is about choices.” It took me years to understand her message. I now find myself repeating this often to people in my life. Even when you don’t decide you are still choosing. Without your input life will decide for you. The world will keep moving. The beautiful part of being human is that we get to decide if things are going to happen to us or if they will happen for us. It is as simple as that. Sometimes fear, anxiety, and all of our human emotions get deep inside and taunt us. Even worse those emotions tend to be paralyzing. I know. I get it. Sometimes it seems easier to bury our heads in the sand and not make a decision and not move forward. Indecisiveness is a poison that taints the life around us and stunts our growth. It slows progression. The miracle lies in our ability to decide to keep moving forward regardless of pain, regardless of disappointment, regardless of failure, and regardless of fear. One foot in front of the other. The miracle is in the process.