Let us advance on Chaos and the Dark. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Each of us views the world through lenses of our choice, and I believe that a closer look at superficial symptoms can reveal a profound underlying root cause. Often people feel broken or lost among an overwhelming amount of inputs.
A Radical Self-care Conspiracy to Transform Your Life
When this occurs, I like to get to the root cause of suffering, which can often be lifted with a renewal of commitment to self-care. Did you know that the word “radical” actually means root? Equally as interesting is the meaning of the word “conspire”: to breathe together.
Daily, we are invited to participate in stories with others, where sometimes all we can do is breathe together. Is it possible to take a closer look at where we do have the power to shape our own stories within a larger community? Recently a loved one sent me a photograph of a rose bush, which I believe illustrates my point. A single yellow rose, with its own distinct fragrance, stands out among the red roses who expected it to be red also. They are all rooted in the same source and get light from the same source, but one flower has processed the sunlight through very different lenses.
What better way to further illustrate self-care than with a fable by the Brothers Grimm entitled The Handless Maiden?
A father has fallen into poverty and makes a deal with a shady character: Severing his daughter’s hands in exchange for endless material wealth.
After the maiden’s hands are severed, she relegates herself to the forest, eating fruit from the trees like a giraffe. When a charming land baron finds her grazing in his pear orchard, he has hands of silver fashioned for her. The two fall in love and have a child together.
But the shady character begins to stalk the maiden once again, so she has her child lashed to her back and escapes to the forest. As she sits near a stream to attempt to nurse her baby, the baby slips into the stream. The maiden desperately thrusts her silver hands into the water, but as she brings her arms up out of the water, her silver hands have been replaced with real flesh and fingers, with her child clutched inside them.
She realizes her power for renewal lies in the water, and that in caring for her baby she has ultimately cared for herself.
I love this story for its vivid imagery and creepiness, but also for the message of shaping our own stories despite the overwhelming pressures and inputs we must process. Each of us can see ourselves as the yellow rose from the photograph, breathing together with the rest while also voicing the song that only we can sing.