Seems Such A Fine Line

Funny how joy and sorrow are such powerful dance partners.  The heart opens like a flower to joy and breaks open like a geode to sorrow.  It seems the sorrow so often feels like it is ancient–like it comes from many past lifetimes.  

I have been in this dance lately.  I have been experiencing some pretty deep grief, and it has taken all of my commitment to not run and hide from it.  My response to my difficult experiences growing up was to “check out.”  If I can’t check out physically, then I check out emotionally and mentally.  This is my self-protective defense mechanism when I am experiencing being hurt by people or situations.

I feel a bit like the boxer who keeps getting knocked down and somehow manages to dig deep and pull themselves up again, even with eyes so swollen they can barely see, and a brain whirling from the onslaught.  My heart feels as pulverized.  And yet, I know to go back to old patterns of “checking out” is to choose to let go of all the lessons I have learned in my challenging life.  I keep a driver’s license from many years ago in my life to remind me the price of this way of being.  You look in my face in the picture and there is no one there.  My father said that time in my life scared him more than anything–even more than my living in a tree– because in the tree I was fully alive, but at the time in my life when the driver’s photo was taken, I was part of the walking dead.

So, I continue to choose to keep my heart open, even as tears carve what feels like canyons of grief into my cheeks.  I know that life is all about impermanence and this too shall pass.  But sometimes, it’s hard as hell to not tuck tale and run or scream and rage and fight like I could kill.  Guess that’s what goes with the territory of being an animal–fight or flight–lest we forget.  But then, I am reminded that I have a being beyond mere biology that tells me I have the power to choose.  And so, here I go again, choosing Love, especially because it is difficult.

Please be extra kind and loving to anyone you see hurting right now.  Even if they are expressing their pain in a not so nice way.  Remember, they are just trapped in their fight or flight mode and a little love and compassion has the potential to go a very long way.



Published in: on September 10, 2008 at 5:15 pm  Comments (9)  

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9 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hi Julia, Thank you for posting this. It surprised me that you have the struggles you mentioned, since I had this view of you that you were so courageous that doubts and back and forth emotions weren’t really an issue. Kiss that misconception goodbye.
    I always wonder what happened to your refusal to pay that part of your taxes that went to the Iraq war. I believe that if everyone in the US who is against the war or war refused to pay for it, it would have to stop. You showed that we do have that power, though most of us are afraid to use it for fear of punishment and retaliation. If you have any reports or thoughts or information about this area, I am most interested in hearing them. Thank you, thank you!
    Lots of Love, Tom Johnston

  2. Hi~
    Boy are you a chip off the old block!!!

    I’m an expert at running and fighting to save my soul. You must have learned these techniques at my knee! In my past I have been known to fight tooth and nail, and then when those resources were used up, to gum to death anyone I thought was trying to hurt me.

    I learned, through the years, though, that refusing to love for fear of getting hurt was not an option, because it was better to risk loving and lose, than to never love at all.

    I learned also that when I am afraid, I don’t have to fight or flight, I can simply say, “I am afraid!”

    I can choose, as you say, to be vulnerable and instead of demanding that the path taken will keep me safe, I can let those on the path with me know that I am feeling unsafe.

    Even when I want to fight like an avenging angel to keep my inner child from experiencing anything painful, I’ve also learned that bad things do and will happen, but that God works all things, even bad things, out for our good, IF we love Him, and IF we are called according to His purpose.

    So, life is an adventure for me now…the good and the bad…the pleasant and the hurtful…the evil and the Divine! I no longer have to protect myself, because I’m willing to be vulnerable enough to admit…I am afraid.

    I am courageous enough to trust in God to work all things out for my good.

    I am humble enough to admit that I need a Savior…the Lord Jesus Christ, who laid His life down on the horrible cross of Calvary’s tree! My tree…my badge of courage…my eternal salvation.

    I’m praying for you today, Tuitti! I love you immensely and I’m always here for you…yo momma

  3. Admiration is such a small word…Thanks for your courage Julia. Are you married? Don’t freak out! I know you are way out of my league!!! Just wanted to show you some support. I will keep coming back and check how you are doing.
    Take care, be safe.

    Good stuff

  4. I’ll keep this simple. I know all about living with grief and sorrow. I wrote the book!
    While you are out fighting to save the world don’t forget to be good to yourself.
    Surround yourself with real friends and allow your body and soul some time for fun and pleasure. You deserve it!
    You are one of my true heroes Julia! I mean this sincerely!
    I wish you a long life filled with love and happiness.
    Love, Rick DeBari

  5. Hello Julia, I referenced you and your work in a blog I wrote yesterday (American woodman). I am a woodworker and make sculptural bowls, not turned. My father was an honorary lifetime member of the Sierra Club, and we knew Ansel Adams, etc… I was already having an issue with myself and some of the woods I was using, when I heard you speak at Bard College around 10 years ago. You were wonderful and very moving, and I’ve never forgotten your passion and commitment to your cause. Keep plugging along I am sure you’ve touched many people. And please, be well, and continue your work. kip eggert see my blogspot just google my name

  6. Julia, Like everyone else, it seems, I met you long ago.
    I met you in Kentucky two years ago, one month after first finding out who you are.
    I asked you if there was anything I could do for you, because you do so much for so many. And you said no, that you have a wonderful support group already and are blessed to not need help.
    I wish I could help you now, but I am always proud of you for getting back up again. And I will remember your words and try to be kind to those in pain.
    I know I will be back to my old ways before long, but for a little while I will do my best to be conscious of this.
    Thank you for all you do.

    PS your mom is a smart kind lady too:)

  7. Oh, oh! I almost forgot.
    You had mentioned you were reading a book…(My Life is My Sundance by Leonard Peltier), about his struggles on the Pine Ridge Reservation and his false imprisonment for the murder of two FBI agents.
    I read it, and a few months later I was up there. And I met a wonderful family in extreme poverty with 16 people living in a tiny trailer with no running water. I could write a book about all the wonderful things I saw, and the terrible things I saw as well, some of which I will never speak of.
    But I returned this summer, to help them start a small business, and I feel I made a difference in their lives and in mine as well. I spent four months up there in a tent with my dogs connecting them with the resources they need to run the business in their traditional ways, and it went well.
    It was very scary at times but so worth it!

    And I dont know if you read the responses to your comments or not, but if you do, I wanted you to know it was because of YOU.
    You do make a difference, and thank you for helping me make a difference!

  8. Hi, Give something for help those hungry people in Africa or India,
    I created this blog about them:

  9. Jb,

    I was going to say “keep on the sunny side.” But then I’d feel obliged to say “it’s o.k. to be sad sometimes.” So I won’t say either.

    I prefer Zen conciousness. For me, it is the big O that was the missing piece. It is the piece that tied all the other pieces together. Perhaps I am only reminding you now…

    Being a man, I am quite liminal, and not so emotional by nature. However, I am very in touch with my feminine side.

    So I say, let it flow… Let yourself go. Find your center.

    “Be the ball in the stream, still in yourself and flowing in the stream of life.”

    These words by Alan Watts are exactly what I needed to hear to balance my chakras and chill out, after thinking that I’d needed to ride the rollercoaster for so long, for the sake of learning. Maybe I did, for a time…

    As a participant in yoga and transcendental meditation, I found that carrying Zen conciousness in me everywhere I go focuses me again on my goals (even if my goal at the moment is to let everything be).

    From one water molecule to another water molecule, in this vast sea of energetics…

    My prayer for you and your future: that you, Julia Butterfly Hill, may become centered whenever you desire. That you may walk in peace and calm, no matter what happens around you in the sea of life. That you may recognize in yourself the ability to experience emotions by letting them flow through and around you, while your observer observes stillness of mind, and is entertained by all of life’s dramas, be they “positive” or “negative”.

    This is the calm, conscience of the Zen mind. And it is my prayer for you and your sensitive heart.

    All My Love,
    Michael Of The Mountain

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