Find Your Center
“You move like a ballerina,” the man said, catching up to me on the sidewalk.
I would’ve kept on walking but I caught a tremor in his voice which I instantly recognized as coming from a place I knew well. A deeply painful place.
I paused and he held out his wallet. “See?”
“The way you walk reminds me of my daughter.” He showed me a photo of her. I noticed the hand that was holding the wallet shook ever slightly.
“Thank you. You are too kind. I’m nowhere near that graceful.” It wasn’t false modesty. I’m a bit on the clumsy side.
“Ah, yes, there is that. But see here…” he tapped his finger at her erect posture. It was as if she was suspended from a piece of steel rope attached to the top of her head.
I told him this, and he smiled, indicating that I had understood fully.
“That’s how you walk, sure and centered. That was how my daughter always carried herself…” he let his voice trailed off.
I thanked him again. I let a quiet moment passed before I asked him, “Please forgive me for asking, but what happened to her?”
His eyes misted. “Leukemia.”
Without thinking, I reached out and squeezed his hand. He squeezed my hand back, collected himself then walked off.
I stood watching him until he disappeared from sight. I was rooted there, flooded by gratitude for these small moments of grace.
It’s only through our show of vulnerability and fragility can another human be let in. It’s through this letting in that we stop feeling alone and disconnected from the human experience.
I try to remember that exchange while I was feeling hopelessly off-centered and alone these past weeks. This feeling often comes when I find myself bumping up against my own limitations.
So I did what I always do. I reminded myself that I went down this road before, and that I can find my way back again. I made myself think of other times where the ground shifted beneath my feet, and my divorce was the most obvious example that came to mind.
No matter how amicable, divorce has a way of making a woman question herself on so many levels. Wife, woman, human being. You believed you failed at all three.
I remembered as I stood signing that divorce paper, how it felt like I was signing a public confession: “Herewith, upon my signature is the full admittance of my failure.”
But we heal, don’t we? And it has nothing to do with “time heals all pain.” It has more to do with letting a little bit of light in through your broken-ness so bit by bit, the lights that have managed to filter through the cracks eventually replace the darkness.
But we are afraid of showing signs of any cracks, and we are quick to hide them or seal them off. This crack that we are so afraid of is our own vulnerability.
Perhaps the reason we are afraid of our own vulnerability is because we were this raw before and someone used it against us. This is when it is good to remind ourselves that it happened because we trusted the wrong people. The right people will want to reach for your hand and squeeze.
So what do we do? That’s always the question, isn’t it? How do I fix it? How do I get over it?
We crave instant fixes.
If you are off centered, chances are, you are dealing with something monumental. And such things require more than Band-Aid solutions. You will need time to figure them out.
But how do we know when we get there, you ask. You will know. Being centered is to have inner peace and confidence no matter your circumstance. You will arrive at a place where Lao Tzu describes as “At the center of your being, you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.”
But whatever you do, don’t beat up on yourself or give up. Yes, it feels like you fell through quicksand, and that you are far too exhausted to fight your way out. But fight you must.
You are a person of immeasurably worth. You are here for a purpose. Even if today you don’t know what that purpose is, hang in there long enough and you will know.
As you’re finding your way back, keep these things in mind.
Be a crybaby.
I learned from my toddler nieces that when something hurts, allow yourself to cry. Crying is the physical act of letting the pain out.
Watch the grass grow.
By this I mean find stillness. You don’t have to meditate in an ashram or sit long hours cross-legged in a quiet room and “om” your way to peace.
Here’s my favorite definition of stillness from Brene Brown:
Accept your smallness.
Being human means you have limitations. It’s a valuable lesson in humility. Accept it. If we don’t, getting back to center is a long and arduous road back. Practicing self-acceptance arms you for that return journey.
Find your North Star.
Is it God? Is it your religion? Is it the beauty of your dreams? Come back to this ultimate purpose, your reason for being, and you will find your way back to center
- Being Present
- Getting Off the Couch
- Life Lessons from Sports
- Mental Clutter
- Overcoming Challenge
- Overcoming Sadness
- Positive Attitude
- Positive Self-Talk
- Taking Action