It’s summer time here in Houston, Texas. The summer days are a mixed lot of rising temperatures, plenty of sunshine, and much needed thunderstorms. Summer provides just the right mix where the luscious blades of grass between our toes grows so quickly that it seems once you cut it, it’s time for a trim again.
I have an affinity for the smell of fresh cut grass. It brings me back to the time when I was a little girl and my grandfather had his own lawn cutting business. Instead of being shipped off to summer camp, our financial status had me tagging along with my grandfather cutting various lawns in the fancier neighborhoods while my grandmother was baking goods at work during the day.
I met many sweet older ladies that fed me wonderful goodies and let me hang out in their big cool houses, even giving me signed copies of books they had written, and some let me swim with their kiddos in the enticing backyard pool. What fun it was to go cut lawns with my grandfather!
Yet, when school started and I no longer got to take these valuable lawn cutting fieldtrips with my grandfather, he still had his lawn business, which meant he had an old truck with lots of lawn equipment attached to the trailer. So, when he would take me to school in his lawn truck, I no longer felt this sense of freedom, expansiveness, and just being in the moment with my grandfather. I was embarrassed and I felt constricted. I didn’t want him to drop me off at school in the lawn car. I asked him to drop me off a few blocks down so I could walk because I didn’t want the kids to make fun of me. Of course, that never happened. I had to face my vulnerability head on.
At the time, that meant holding my head high in face of the anticipated laughs. It also meant holding my heart high and open even though each laugh felt like acid being poured on my heart. And as a kid, I didn’t know what vulnerability was or even what it meant at the time to hold my heart high. So I felt angry with my grandfather for not letting me walk a few blocks, I gathered myself together as much as a 7-year old can gather themselves, and got out of the lawn truck opening the very rusty door as it squeaked which seemed like eternity, and walked into school trying to ignore the piercing laughter from the few kids that felt like millions.
I had to face the triple V factor. It’s what I call Viciously Victorious Vulnerability. This started the long process of learning the spiritual difference between walls and colored feathers. I see this process now as one our main spiritual lessons in life, which is the recognition and then integration that vulnerability is an iron fist clad in colored feathers.
We live life in paradoxical art forms. We construct meaning from opposing forces, add them together and make a unified whole. Our greatest spiritual strength in life is when we feel vulnerability down to our core instead of numbing it out by putting up walls to help ease the pain. And after we deeply feel this precarious state, and with the right tools and plenty of time, acceptance and mistakes, we process it, integrate it and then let it go. Then, in the tradition of staying connected as creative artists to our masterpiece of life, we clad ourselves with a brightly colored feather each and every time we cross the vulnerability threshold. Vulnerability can feel so vicious because it breaks down our image of our masterpiece of life, and in this sense it can feel like we are experiencing death. There’s an important distinction here – vulnerability has the power to break down our image of our masterpiece, but not the masterpiece itself. When we are able to rearrange or to change the dynamics in our subject/object relationships, we can start breaking down the walls and cladding ourselves in colored feathers. When we are able to stop seeing through and instead can look at, we have changed the dynamics in our subject/object relationships and how we construct meaning, and we have evolved in what we call in yoga as elevating our consciousness. The tools that get us there are a deep commitment to what I have called Life Ceremony (see link for more information on Life Ceremony – https://www.solsenseyoga.com/2014/04/30/life-ceremony/), which is the engagement of the process of practice, otherwise known as yoga/meditation/prayer in all we think, say, and do individually and collectively.
Walls protect and are hard to penetrate. It’s not impossible to connect to our core strength with walls, but it certainly takes more maneuvering and more energy, and sometimes so much more pain than I feel the once source/God/the universe/Love/divine ever intended for us to feel. When we are able to clad ourselves in colored feathers we are creating our masterpiece in a much more dynamic art form. Feathers are light and with deep intentional breath or with the wind songs of our heart, they can be rearranged and recreated in each moment of the masterpiece of our life. When we rearrange how we approach vulnerability from walls to colored feathers, we walk through the paradox of our life from feeling vulnerability as vicious to feeling it as a main ingredient to truly know victorious and what that means for us on our spiritual journey.
Vulnerability is the fire of change that teaches us to detach from our image, but not the image. We are the artists creating the masterpiece of our life with guidance from the divine manifested through the colors we dip our brush in and paint on our canvass. As we grow in our spiritual awareness we learn the beauty in our image alongside the image. We begin to see that there are more colors and more forms to add to the masterpiece than we ever imagined.
We begin to learn and know that true courage stems from vulnerability and that joy stems from the recognition and awareness of the uniqueness of our colored feathers, which represent our stories of who we are and all we have to offer without walls. When we are able to feel, process, and integrate the Triple V Factor (viciously victorious vulnerability), instead of walls, we offer a lightness and dynamic beautiful energy of love, and at a breath’s notice, our colored feathers will shift and move with the wind songs in our heart, but our center, our core, our essence is strong and carries us forth from seeing through the image to looking at the image of what is the masterpiece of our life.
So each time I smell the summertime grass being cut and I’m pulled back to such a beautiful moment in my life, I also get pulled back to a time when I was completely open and free and I felt so much pain that I wanted to put walls around my core so I didn’t have to feel the piercing laughter of the kids when I opened the squeaky lawn truck door. I traded my beautiful feather for a dark wall. The walls weren’t impossible to come down; it just took some time and more pain than the divine ever intended I feel.
I know now that vulnerability is an iron fist clad in colored feathers. Get comfortable with your Triple V Factor. Next time you feel vulnerable to the point of overwhelm, stay steady in your intentional breath, where vicious turns into victorious, and embellish your masterpiece with some of your own colored feathers. Knowing if we stay steady with trust into the wind songs of our heart, we will eventually see the masterpiece of our life.
Om Shanti Om ~ Athea