This is How We Open

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We are all born with this heart that thumps in our chest and if we listen close enough, we might her hear whisper, Open.

The smallest of words with the greatest of challenges and the first time I heard the call, I thought Open? What does that mean? Aren’t I already open? Don’t I already share much of my heart with my words? And why do I need to be more vulnerable? I already wear my vulnerability on my sleeveright there, I can see the threads that hold it, stitched beside my heart that lives there, too.

You see, up until that moment a year ago, I had, for some time, been telling my stories, stripping myself naked and raw, letting my words unwind themselves for all the world to see. The practice of yoga, writing and making images encouraged the active foraging into my darkest places and the surrender of the story herself, making room for the wisdom to remain.

But there are always more stories to unravel, for we are collectors of things-and-stuff and as our culture continues to pull us away from our inner knowing, we become numb to our feelings. We are distracted by ‘busy’ and ’what we should be doing’ and ‘how much money we should make’ that there is no time to be human and flawed; or, to ask someone we love to hold us while we fall to pieces—and certainly there is no time to surrender our weapons and reveal to each other the tales of what keeps us up at night.

When it is your heart that throws down the gauntlet and asks you to show up in your life, to open more, to learn to love bigger, there is no backing down or hiding from the quest. You must do the only thing you have been asked to do, even if it is the hardest thing for a shy-and-introverted being, such as yourself, to do.

And so I opened. Every day. For three hundred and sixty-five days.

Instead of gathering all-the-things-and-thoughts together until they were ready to spill out of my fingertips and into a tidy-looking-but-incredibly-authentic blog, each day, I’d allow my heart to open a little bit at a time.

I made my opening into art and I shared images and words when they would come to me and when I could find none of my own, no matter how deeply I searched, I’d look to those that inspire and borrow their art to say what I could not.

And I kept opening.

I opened when the sun was shining and the birds were singing.

I opened when my dog picked up a bag of dog poop at the park and shook it until it busted open and covered him in poop and I laughed and laughed until I cried.

I opened when the moon stopped me on the sidewalk at night and gently pressed wisdom into my third eye.

I opened when I was confused or confounded or frustrated and I opened when all I could do was cry.

I opened when I made myself sick with burn out and I opened when I chose to step away from a life that was no longer making me happy.

I opened while I was juicing or reading or walking along the lake.

I opened when my cat went missing and then again when I found her and then again (and again) when I had to have her leg amputated.

I opened when my heart was broken and in the opening, that exposure to air and breath and light, I found a way to mend her back together.

I opened when I was most afraid and about being broke and sad and depressed.

I opened when the small shifts happened and the darkness turned to light and I opened when I discovered that I was capable of living from a place of joy.

I opened even when every part of me wanted to close up and give in and get the fuck away.

This is part of the dance of how we evolve has humans—we walk as far as we can until we can no go no further, and we pause and we catch our breath and we observe the landscape. When we have rested, when we have checked our resources and left behind what we no longer need to continue, and our bones are ready, we rise up and we walk a little further.

Opening works just like that—it takes patience and practice and radical self-love to develop a strength that encourages the shedding of our protective skin.

How open is too open? Am I harming myself or loving myself? Why am I sharing? What is my intent? Is it to see how ‘popular’ I am? If nobody likes my post, what does that mean? Have I become invisible? Is my practice of opening a cleverly disguised trick my ego is playing?

There were many days when the last thing I wanted to do was ‘show up’—I could see the space where the opening was meant to happen and instead of gliding towards it, a protective hold clamped down on my heart, insisting that whatever was currently digesting was not ready to be shared.

Or, the days when I reached, stretched even, for the words only to find them out of reach, and watching as minutes turned to hours in my desperate search for anything to say.

And those other ones—some of the toughest, possibly—were the days that my ego and I wrestled to the point of overwhelm with pressure I created for myself to post something that was earth-shattering, amazing and what everyone needed to hear.

On those days, my heart stepped in, softening the battle and sending me to bed with the promise that whatever needed to be said would be waiting in the morning.

But most days, what I discovered in the opening is that we all crave it.

We want to know that we aren’t alone here, in this busy life, with all of her wonderous-and-confusing distractions. We want to know that someone else feels something we feel, or thinks something we think—we want to know that our shame, pain or (insert your secret here) doesn’t make us hideous or undeserving of love.

When I cracked myself open, time and time again, I allowed myself to be who I am. And in that one act—the acceptance or struggle of all that was, just as it is—I allowed those around me to do the same.

With our opening, we have the ability to disarm all that holds apart and we learn that we have the potential to heal the world with the stories we tell.

An abridged version of this piece was published on She Does the City as Part One of a Four Part Series. Here is Part Two—or, the unabridged version, here

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One thought on “This is How We Open

  1. Pingback: Stillness. | Monique Minahan

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