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A Shared Life of Wrestling, Growth, and Discovery

Life–A Dance of Inner and Outer Opposites

Sunday, February 21

Over coffee, after our 30 minutes of silent reflection, Pat and I shared both our experiences and lessons of Saturday as well as where each of us was this morning as we sat in front of the fire intending to share and connect.

Pat began by sharing a Saturday experience that came to her while in the garage. Out of nowhere she felt flooded with a sudden awareness of the positive and the good in her life. She realized she had so many activities available to her to choose from and enjoy in her Saturday. She could do artwork with soul collage that she has enjoyed. She loves her tai chi practice in front of the mirror on the lower level. She could spend time creatively working on her plans to remodel our kitchen and main bathroom, a project she has enjoyed over the past several months. She could read one of the Pathwork lectures in preparation for our April module of the Sacred Dimensions of the Pathwork at Sevenoaks. She could read any of several books she is enjoying. The feelings that flooded her were of ones of lightness and play. She suspected that this positive attitude and mood was coming from her work with her counselor on her seven-year-old self, who was, in fact, the quite playful and joyous little girl!

Pat contrasted this whiff of positivity with the older and more familiar and habitual groove of living in the world of shoulds and oughts. She should get to her taxes. She should work on our household end-of-month bookkeeping. In short, she should be responsible and productive, not playful.

The contrast of these two worlds of opposites was made clear to Pat in the garage and could not be missed. It had been quite an expansive experience for her. And in her sharing, I could easily join her by slowing us down and encouraging her to savor, imprint, and integrate her brief encounter with play and creativity. I shared that her experience reminded me of the archetypal character of Cinderella. Pat could somewhat relate to Cinderella, not so much the “going to the ball” Cinderella but the Cinderella who was so happy celebrating life in her room. This first bit of sharing was a sweet time for us both.

My own reflection during our silence preceding our sharing time brought up a feeling of loneliness, feeling distant from myself and from Pat and from life, and feeling sad for some unidentified reason. I noticed that I could just be with and present to these negative feelings.

I shared these feelings with Pat, noting that I was not trying to deny them or cover them over with some distraction or wallow in them, a habit I have had of “adding insult to injury” by judging myself as hopelessly bad or negative in such less-than-positive experiences.

As I had been with Pat, now Pat was able to be with me, being thrilled that I was actually present to, allowing, and most importantly, feeling these negative feelings.  Pat also affirmed my feeling them without my habitual judging and adding insult to injury because they were negative. She further identified and affirmed my capacity to hear my “judge-condemning-the-negative” in the background of my psyche, and noted that, in recognizing him, I could keep him at bay rather than letting him come in and take over my attitude and mood.  I was helped and felt supported by Pat’s observations.

This is how our morning coffee time went. Yes, my feelings were opposite to Pat’s feelings, but both of us could be in our own feelings AND be curious about and supportive of the other’s feelings. We were feeling more connected through these experiences, both the experience of sharing of ourselves with the other and the experience of taking in and supporting the other!

I added another sharing, this time from Saturday. I shared with Pat that my Sunday morning’s sadness and loneliness seemed particularly out of place from my positive experiences on Saturday. Most of Saturday I had spent working on a revision of the Devotional Version of Pathwork Lecture 44 – The Forces of Love, Eros, and Sex. My time with this lecture, as usually happens with this Pathwork material, was ecstatic – such marvelous and helpful wisdom pouring off the pages and into my head, my heart, and my gut – the Pathwork lectures have such resonance with my own intuitive sense of things — they so enliven me on every level of my being. So for me Saturday, the entire day, was a joy-filled experience of expansiveness.

And with this sharing of expansiveness Pat was again able to celebrate my experiences. She added words like rapture and ecstasy, noting all the pleasure I experienced by spending my time with these lectures. And she suggested that such pleasure could lead to other pleasures – sexual and emotional pleasures. After all, we noted, pleasure on all levels is a central ingredient of Life. As I paused to take in Pat’s words, gratitude arose in my psyche, gratitude both for this experience with the lectures and also for Pat’s presence and support of my enthusiasm with them.

I then recognized a possible cause for the sadness and loneliness that had arisen in me this morning. Perhaps this Sunday morning sadness was simply my contraction after such a big expansion on Saturday!

We could see in our morning sharing that we were in a real dance, here a dance of opposites not only outward opposites with each of us being in opposite spaces when the morning sharing began but also seeing the opposites within ourselves as our respective day’s experiences unfolded moment by moment – expansion then contraction and then again expansion… like breathing in and out. Yes, this business of living is very much a dance of Life – fueled by the experiences of opposites!

Shared in love, Gary

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Gary Vollbracht