Defying gravity – birthday message 2013
I will not apologize for who I am. I am a giraffe, not a hyena.* I don’t expect you to love me for it, praise me, thank me or understand me. I have made mistakes. Yes, I’m human. But I want so much more than an ordinary life. I want to make a difference.
The musical, Wicked, which I saw in New York with Charl last year, continues to inspire me. I listen to the soundtrack often and I am busy reading the novel that it is based on. To continue the analogy, Elphaba chose to be a giraffe and she paid dearly for it in the end, hated when she should have been admired for her guts and desire for the truth and it became a matter of perspective whether she was a hero or the ‘Wicked Witch of the West’. The story in its totality, the idea of how history is created, and the music, but the lyrics of “Defying Gravity” in particular, is a joy and an inspiration. I’ve posted the lyrics on my Facebook wall before at a time I felt momentous change in my life and my being, but that was a temporary illusion. A step in the right direction certainly, but not even a shadow of the real transformation that was yet to come and is an ongoing process. So today, with renewed confidence and courage, I will put these words out there again:
Something has changed within me
Something is not the same
I’m through with playing by the rules
Of someone else’s game
Too late for second-guessing
Too late to go back to sleep
It’s time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes and leap!
It’s time to try
I think I’ll try
And you can’t pull me down
I’m through accepting limits
‘Coz someone says they’re so
Some things I cannot change
But till I try, I’ll never know!
Too long I’ve been afraid of
Losing love I guess I’ve lost
Well, if that’s love
It comes at much too high a cost!
I’d sooner buy
Kiss me goodbye
And you can’t pull me down
So if you care to find me
Look to the western sky!
As someone told me lately:
“Everyone deserves the chance to fly!”
And if I’m flying solo
At least I’m flying free
To those who’d ground me
Take a message back from me
Tell them how I’m defying gravity!
I’m flying high, defying gravity!
And soon I’ll match them in renown
And nobody, in all of Oz
No wizard that there is or was
Is ever gonna bring me down!
All my great heroines of fiction (Mavin, Marianne, Sabriel, Sonea, Beauty, Tiffany Aching, to name just a few…) had to take themselves to task and make their own way in difficult circumstances. Not everyone has the opportunity to come upon their path, finding it seemingly by chance or destiny… sometimes you have to make your own path through the wilderness. And you’re bound to come out the other side scratched and scarred, if you don’t give up and turn back, but you’d have blazed a trail, found your connection to God and the universe (and all of existence without letting it take you over). Worthy? I think so. Easy? No. But it is no less true that the hardest things to do are frequently the most worthwhile and rewarding experiences of our lives.
And it’s not an easy thing to admit how far you can go off the path when you thought you were heading in the right direction, but to stare darkness full in the face and come back from that… it’s a wake-up call like very few things out there. And I always remember reading self-help books (I did so selectively over the years, I wasn’t an addict) and thinking, cerebrally I understand that my joy should come from inside me and that my thoughts create my world, but I just didn’t feel it. It wasn’t a part of my core the way it is now. This has not just been an evolution of spirit, but a revolution, and I am so deeply thankful for that.
Going through some old journals last week I came upon what I wrote at New Year, shortly before midnight on the 31st of December 2012. I do it every year, looking back on the year gone by and contemplating the year ahead. What I wrote as I stood on the brink of 2013 was circumspect and tragic and, in hindsight, the depression that would cripple me over the coming months was there already, even though I was very much in denial. And it ended with a heart-wrenching prayer and appeal to God to save me from myself. [Perhaps one day I will share exactly what I wrote there, but suffice it to say it was very deep, harsh and personal.] I can look back now and say that He absolutely answered that prayer. He truly did.
I think often of King Solomon of old. The ‘having of stuff’ and the women got him in the end and that was his ruin, but in his youth, when God offered him anything, he asked for wisdom instead of all the things ‘ordinary people’ would have asked for. And because of that, he received that and so much more than he could ever dream. And, now in hindsight, I think perhaps I had my Solomon moment in this my 30th year. He gave me the opportunity to do the MindPower course (and thank you to my friend Dean who invited us to the first talk that made us want to do the course, and Charl for being the vessel to pay for it) and sure, my affirmations included financial freedom (and still do), but they were so much more than that, about being truly happy and a valid human being, a vessel of the glory of God – forget the stuff. And when at times in the intervening months it seemed like everything was going wrong and I was getting further and further away from the ideal I was aiming for and imagining for myself, I just kept on saying it. The money hasn’t manifested yet, but He brought me to a place where that doesn’t matter. I found a greater treasure and riches in my own soul and being than any amount of money could buy. True, lots of people say they know money can’t buy you happiness, but they’d rather be unhappy and rich than unhappy and poor. But I choose instead to not be unhappy at all. And in my search for that peace and balance and joy that no thing or person can give you, I set my heart on that, and when it felt at the darkest moments, at the point of giving up, that God had forsaken me completely, He was busy polishing the raw diamonds to give me a crown. It is an almost unbelievable thing to realize that He heard me and He answered me and He gave me what I asked for. I am aghast that He would deign to look down and pay attention to little pathetic old me. And then I wonder also if not perhaps today, by saying these things out loud and not falling back into the old ways (more than a month now), this is how I can give honour to Him and say ‘thank you’ with my whole being, that He might be a bit proud of me. He feels our pain and for Him to afflict me must have hurt Him as much as it hurt me. But to see the phoenix rise from the ashes after all that…? Perhaps that was a moment when I could fulfill the most earnest desire of my heart – to make my Maker glad.
*An illustration used recently by my great teacher – a giraffe is always looking for the high leaves, head high up in the sky, close to the sun, a metaphor for thinking lofty thoughts. And when it bows down to drink water it does so with such grace. Loners mostly, they move in groups for safety, but they make only a few close bonds. What a creature!
The hyena on the other hand is an ugly scavenger, always just out for itself and its family. Everything is about food and mating and nothing more than its own immediate physical needs. The hyena is a selfish and conceited creature only consumed by its own self and desires. It rarely even fights for its survival – they will often play dead to save their lives rather than stand and fight.
Us humans are born or moulded by our circumstances (nature vs nature – we won’t go into debate, whichever you subscribe to it is up to you) that cause a person to either grow up to be a hyena or a giraffe. But through our own free will, intellect and spirit, we can choose, even if we are at any given time hyenas, to leave that behind and become giraffes. As it says in the Prophets – if you turn from evil and do good, your former evil will not be remembered, but equally, if you turn from good and do evil, your good will not be remembered. It is what we choose to do today and every day going forward that matters. There are no treasures in heaven you can build up like a bank account to pay for your wickedness at other times. Only what you do now matters, up until the day you die and you are brought to account for your choices and to be judged whether you can move up in the spiritual ranks or whether you need to go back and learn some more lessons.