Rumi’s Guesthouse, and the Not-Good-Enoughs
While waiting in line at the grocery store the other week, as the checkout lady was scanning my cauliflower and eggs, I noticed this funny feeling. It was a small, almost imperceptible, but insistent. I felt weak and uninspired. I started counting the numbers of evenings I had recently spent in my room, doing little of anything. My moral character felt floopy, like a Gumpy figure with no bones or spine to hold me up, like I was drifting listlessly through life with no where to go.
Unsure of what was going on– was I getting sick? Was I simply bored? Was I secretly upset about something and avoiding it?– I took myself out on a walk. And, as I was dragging my lethargic body along the familiar trail, something literally stopped me in my tracks.
“I know this feeling!”, I said to myself, resting my hand on a nearby park bench. I absolutely know this feeling, all too well.
In fact, it is something I have felt for most of my life. It is what I call the “Not-Good-Enoughs”, that insistent feeling of insecurity that drags through many of our lives like the drone note in bluegrass.
It is the gnawing feeling that something is secretly and inextricably wrong with me, that, somehow, be it hidden or in plain view, there is something that simply comes up short. My insecurities are completely cliche, fearing that I am not smart enough, pretty enough, or loveable enough. But these insecurities are completely gripping in their power. They hold me back from boldly doing the things I feel called to do, instead leaving me in the limbo of taking half-steps towards my dreams, half-steps towards deep connections, half-steps towards the life that is calling me.
Luckily, I have sat through enough weekend workshops to know that I am not alone in this feeling; in fact, deep insecurity seems like a silent pandemic that has infected Western culture, an insidious invader that has gripped our minds and hearts.
And really, if you think about Western culture, it is no surprise. Our entire economic system, which is fueled by a feeling of malcontent that keeps us buying more, is fueled by our insecurity. So maintaining that insecurity through materalistic values and weak community connections are great for maintaining our role as fervent consumers.
But theories aside, this feeling of insecurity is a real problem. It’s grip is tragic, holding us hostage to our smallest feelings about ourselves, preventing us from moving towards our biggest possibility.
This clearly wreaks havoc in our own lives, but it is also toxic to our world: we are not able to give our bigger contributions, to fully be players in ushering in the Great Turning, working towards a life in service to all beings.
It seems like, then, our lives, and whether they are half-lives, or whether we dive in fully, has everything to do with this question: What do we do with our insecurities?
It reminds of me Rumi’s poem, The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
— Jellaludin Rumi,
translation by Coleman Barks
I will do that. When the Not-Good-Enoughs come knocking, I will welcome them in. I will great them with reverence and prepare for them a lofty bed and fetch fresh towels for the morning. I will talk with them and share my finest wine and my heart, we will feast on rich dishes of meat and deserts of honey and dates and will listen attentively to their woes. I will love them and promise they can stay for as long as they would like and even bring their cousins.
But, at the end of the night, I will not take my insecurities to bed with me. They will have their own room where they can rest separately. Instead, into my intimate chambers, I will invite the lover I have choose for myself, the “Do-It-Anyways”, the wild and bold part of myself that, amidst all the reasons not to, amidst all the insecurities and opportunities for failure, takes one small step, then another step, and then another small but courageous and clear step towards the that life the world is dreaming for me.
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