“The attempt to create a life devoid of disappointment is the attempt to avoid the vulnerabilities that make the conversations of life real, moving, and life-like; it is the attempt to avoid our own necessary and merciful heartbreak. To be disappointed is to reassess our self and our inner world, and to be called to the larger foundational reality that lies beyond any false self we had only projected upon the outer world.”
It has been raining for about 48hrs straight here in Ottawa. Truthfully it’s the visitor I needed this weekend. I love October more than all of the months in a year. It is when the weather turns to the cooler side, the trees change their clothing and the sky becomes more moody and haunting. This time of year is the permission from the earth that I long for; to lay low, hermit a while, be with myself, my home, and the senses that make a life meaningful for me (candles, cooking, incense, fresh baked bread, instrumental music).
And then there is another visitor. One that we don’t often prepare for or look forward to; not even in the slightest – disappointment. Disappointment doesn’t knock at our door, it rushes in like a violent wind, uninvited and with conviction, and cleans house. It knocks over everything that isn’t sturdy, and breaks our hearts. We all know it. It has happened to all of us who are breathing. I have found that the more I open to the fragility and overwhelmingly beautiful essence of life, the more vulnerable I let myself be, the more disappointment has her chance to sweep in. That’s the terrible and remarkable gift of it all.
I have been thinking and sitting with my own disappointment lately. And underneath the pain and confusion, the very real heartache and injustice, if I lean in just a little further and deeper, there is something unbreakable down there. It’s like this small piece of gold, the size of a pebble even. Disappointment is the heat that melts that gold pebble down, allowing it to flow all throughout my entire body.
Disappointment is the invitation into transformation. I would never choose it. I don’t think any of us would. That is why she comes in like the wind, on her own terms and in her own wisdom. Don’t get me wrong – just because I believe this message of transformation wholeheartedly, there is a very real and honest part of me that hates it. And I think that is necessary. The raw honesty. The part of us that isn’t ready for the heat to melt down the pebble. And that is okay. That is allowed. It is a process and we wrestle, wail, wait and welcome when it is time.
As David Whyte continues to write,
“The measure of our courage is the measure of our willingness to embrace disappointment, to turn towards it rather than away, the understanding that every real conversation of life involves having our hearts broken somewhere along the way and that there is no sincere path we can follow where we will not be fully and immeasurably let down and brought to earth, and where what initially looks like a betrayal, eventually puts real ground under our feet.“
For me, the ground beneath my feet has asked me to dance upon it. My body has been nudging me for months (I would go as far to say years even) to dance. I am really only tuning into that more now. I have started listening, and dancing through disappointment and all the other varying emotions that come with that, has become a practice I didn’t know I needed. Our bodies speak to us. Our bodies contain all the parts of us, the emotional, rational, sexual, spiritual, all of it. When she speaks and nudges me, I have learnt and continue to learn, her wisdom carries me through.
When Disappointment comes howling through, can you slow down with it a bit and ask, What might this part of me need right now? What is this part wanting me to hear? Are there other parts trying to push her away and drown her out? Acknowledge them and come back to that aching part. What do they need? Be with this part. Even if it’s just your presence being with. See what happens. Feel into it and watch how it moves you.
“Disappointment is just the initial meeting with the frontier of an evolving life, an invitation to reality, which we expected to be one particular way and turns out to be another, often something more difficult, more overwhelming and strangely, in the end, more rewarding.”