Inspiring Stuff from Oprah Winfrey and David Arquette

I so love Oprah and that part of the American psyche from which she emerged – and which she’s taken to great heights I think.  She always embraces the biggest, most creative and generous ideas about life and encourages people to be authentic, honest about their challenges.  Yesterday I watched her interview David Arquette who had just come out of rehab, and is walking a very different path in life from that which led to his crisis and the destruction of his marriage.

He was beautiful to watch.  He spoke quietly and was very open and honest about his own behavior to that point; not beating himself to death, but taking responsibility for it, facing his own pain, not running from it, getting help with it and with his recovery so that he can reclaim his life.  Oprah was kind to him and respectful, nurturing in a way that was really great to see.  It was real; there was no rescue in it and no pretense.

At one point she said that it was so important for us to tell our stories openly because when we see somebody else having gone through immense challenges it gives us faith that we can come through our own.  And we all have challenges, nobody is free from that.

It certainly inspired me and reminded me that the journey I’m on, to heal from my past, become more conscious of what drives me and of what life is really about, to see more clearly the choices I’m making and learn how to make ones that bring more quality to my life and that of people in my world, to grow my entitlement and improve my self-esteem – a lot of people in the world believe this is a worthwhile journey and are on it themselves.

I forget that sometimes.  I grew up in a culture where entitlement, emotional fluency, consciousness, personal accountability, cause and effect were alien ideas and practices.  God was a Catholic God, a male and a pretty unforgiving one.  You had one chance and if you blew it this life time that was it forever.  You’d burn in hell for eternity.  Emotions were deeply repressed, behavior consequently massively neurotic.  Anger couldn’t be expressed, so passive aggression ruled the day.  Nobody really understood why anybody did anything, and what lay beneath the surface was unacknowledged.

But what lies beneath the surface is what interests me the most, and it’s what always jumped out at me since I was a child.  I believe it’s where all the power is in life.  Still, sometimes – especially when I’m quite isolated and immobile as I’ve been lately – doubts start creeping in.  Am I just deluding myself that I’m making progress, that I really am stepping out of my history?   Are these ideas I harbor just new-agey escapism?

Then I see Oprah talking to David Arquette about his journey, the importance of emotions, self esteem and entitlement, accountability, the power of love, the value of where crisis can take us.  That we do our best every step of the way. When we know better we do better.

And I’m reassured.  Oprah’s right, we do need to see other people talk about their challenges.  It validates our own, and reminds us we’re not alone and there’s nothing wrong with us because we’re wrestling with life.  In fact, there’s everything right.


Mind Your Own Business

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A cellist I know said it irritates her when people say “you’re so lucky you can play an instrument and do something you love”.  Luck?? she protested,  It’s got nothing to do with luck.  I work bloody hard.

It’s true, she does.   Success in anything is about the decisions you make to take on challenges or to try and find the easy way round (it’s an illusion, there isn’t one), or give up and say I can’t do it and it’s not my fault.

What makes us run away from the challenges?   It’s very painful.  You don’t realize it until you  face it yourself.  GAAAHHH, no wonder I was running.  Why do some people stop running and others don’t?   I don’t think it’s about good / bad, lucky / unlucky, spiritual / unspiritual, but I can’t get into somebody else’s head.

And what good does it do me to try and figure it out, or to judge them?   If I’m doing that, I’m avoiding myself.   Much better to listen to what I need and figure out what stops me getting it.  Mind Your Own Business – I used to think it was about gossip.  Now I realize it’s much more powerful than that.

People have said to me “you know what you want, you’re so strong in that, you’re lucky”.  Others have said “you’re lucky you’re creative”.  My initial response is the same as my friends – humph, it’s not luck, it’s hard work.

Thing is, I do feel fortunate.   Maybe all that means is, I’m finally happy to be me, to have this life, the way that it is, because I know I’m not trapped any more, I know I’m on the move.   I’ve had to work hard to get here, but I was able to want to.

And if I look back, what I’ve craved right at the core of me has always been alive and burning.  I’ve felt like a wild animal with my legs in chains, stuck in a tiny cage.   Unchain me!  Get me out of here! I tried avoidance-running and the short way round.  Didn’t work.  I tell you, the long way round pays off.

I believe we all have creativity, dreams and the capacity to know what we need.   We just learned how not to listen, how to mind everybody else’s business instead of our own.  We used other people’s ideas instead of forming our own.  We had too much consistent experience of being unimportant.   Well, I’ve been able to learn something different, and if I could do it, other people must be able to.

Minding my own business was where I was taught to start, in every small moment.  What am I feeling?  What do I need?  Physically, emotionally, organically, now, not later.  I need somebody to hold me, I need to cry, laugh, rage, speak, be heard.  I need food, drink, fun, pleasure. I need the sun, I need to be warm, to feel somebody’s love, to have them take my side. Space to be me.  I need to know I haven’t blown it and life is on my side. I need to rest or play, to be responded to in real time by a  real person not just in my head, to experience being important to somebody.  I need the experience of love, protection, applause, joy and friendship, not just the theory of it…

Whatever it is, it’s my need, I must be able to hear it.   When plants get appropriate food and are in a nurturing, protective environment they grow up strong and produce beautiful flowers and delicious fruit.   I don’t think we’re any different in principle.