An Offering

A couple of days ago, I came across some pithy words at Motherhood Reinvented: “If you want to jump off a bridge, call a therapist.  If you want to cross a bridge, call a coach.”

I had just received my acceptance letter to the UVM Master’s in Counseling program, and was facing a decision. I took some time to sit with it, sit in a feeling kind of way and not an over-thinking kind of way. (Imagine that.)

That quote got me to look up from my questioning patterns and see this truth: I am already on a bridge. It may feel more rickety at times than some of the older, more established and well-known ways of crossing the river, but I’ve come this far. There is no need to turn around and start my way across a brand new bridge.

All the world
is a very narrow bridge
and the main thing
is not to be afraid.

~ Rabbi Nachman of Bratslov

I have written so many times about this fear, this fear of taking up room and putting myself out there. Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of not having enough skills, fear of not having enough to offer, fear of seeming this or that. Fear of fear. Et cetera and so forth.

The phrase “self-legitimization” comes to mind, i.e. my clients do not seem to care what degrees I have. A friend said something so simple to me recently over coffee that it struck me as profound: “The work you do is valuable.”

The work is valuable. Somehow that little sentence unlocked something for me. The work is valuable! If I get out of my own way and stop worrying about me, I get to do valuable work! What a good thing to remember.

In Sacred Path of the Warrior, Chögyam Trungpa writes:

The process of freeing yourself from arrogance and cutting off your habitual tendencies is a very drastic measure, but it is necessary in order to help others in this world.

All of my fear is no other than arrogance in a different form. If I am to help others, to continue walking bravely across this bridge, I have to throw fear into the river. Toss it. Lovingly say goodbye, the way Pearl says goodbye when she flushes the toilet: “Bye-bye pee-pee, bye-bye poo-poo.”

Really, isn’t that all fear is, so much pee-pee and poo-poo? A byproduct of a natural process whereby our bodies take in the nutrients, the building blocks of our skin and bones, and dispense of what doesn’t nourish us – thus allowing us to grow and be healthy?

When I gently remove my raging ego from the equation and move forward,  it’s actually easier to keep my balance on this swaying bridge.

And that’s where those plump, juicy raisins come in. My offering to you, to the world. Take me up on it.

7 thoughts on “An Offering

  1. Renae C says:

    Jena,

    There are MANY bridges that take us across the same ravines and rivers.

    The first thing you learn in any counseling program is that healing for the client is due, in large part, to the relationship between the client and counselor.

    You are DOING the work. The degrees DON’T matter. And you are reaching people who wouldn’t dare pick up the phone and call a counselor.

    Not to say you couldn’t do it if you wanted to – I am fully convinced you could, but if your Self is saying no, when your ego gets quiet enough to hear it, then listen to her. She knows what she is talking about.

    I needed to read your words about fear/arrogance today. I wasn’t on another bridge, so I chose the counseling route, and I’m about to finish with school – and the “what’s next” part scares me to death.

    Keep going. One step at a time. I’ll see you on the other side! :-)

    Like

  2. Sandra says:

    As a degree-less photographer, I know the hesitation that comes along with proclaiming yourself to be something without that precious piece of paper to back you up. Sometimes you have to let your work speak for itself. It will do a much better job than any piece of paper ever could.

    Like

  3. Megan says:

    Amen, amen, Jena!! And as a Ph.D. dropout, I feel you as well. And I know — I know — that you are already on a bridge, without any more letters behind your name. You are doing valuable work, brave work, soul-touching work. I always say only get that degree if you just can’t wait for the classes and the work and want to do it for the love of learning more than anything — but if it is for self-validation, forget it. That only comes from one place inside, not any piece of paper, so don’t waste your time and money. Ah, preaching to the choir… Peace and hugs…

    Like

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