Do you know the feeling of watching a movie and having it touch you to your core? There are two movies that from the first time I saw them I knew were significant for me. Over the years I’ve continued to discover how deeply they speak to my journey.
Throughout that journey, Pai stands with incredible presence and open heart. She demonstrates her commitment to love and possibility. In a moment when she is not allowed to speak in words, even though it clearly costs her dearly, she will not (in truth cannot) acceed to her Grandfather’s order and act in a way that is out of integrity with herself.In the final scene of the movie there’s a voice-over with Pai speaking these words – an indicator both of her vision for her people, AND for the very different kind of leadership she represents “My name is Paikea Apirana, and I come from a long line of chiefs, stretching all the way back to the Whale Rider … I’m not a prophet, but I know that our people will keep going forward … all together, with all of our strength.”
For me, and I suspect many of you, the journey to discovering there’s a powerful legitimacy to who we came here to be – what we came here to stand for and co-create more of in our world – is a circuitous one. And yet, if we look at our life experiences we can see the through-line of needs and values in a combination that’s unique to each one of us.
My sense is that clarity around these – what Lissa Boles calls our Codes – is a powerful driver in our finding the courage to stand and ‘be’ – offering our unique contributions wherever we find ourselves.
The other movie is Dangerous Beauty – a look at life in 16th-century Venice. In this male-dominated society, Veronica (a young woman whose family doesn’t have the money to marry her ‘well’) chooses to become a courtesan.In this role she establishes herself as an influential partner and confidante to many of the men in power. For a time she is a sought-after heroine in the city, but when life becomes challenging, those in authority look for a scapegoat, and she becomes a target of the Inquisition.
In an extraordinary scene, Veronica stands on her own and speaks – powerfully. She speaks to what is true for her, and refuses to deny her life. Taking this stand and speaking as she does changes everything.
Both of these stories continue to inspire me. It seems that this question – do I have the courage to stand … and speak, not ‘speaking against’ in an adversarial way, but simply standing in the truth of my own experience, and speaking that, is where Life is calling me to expand my capacities.Several times over these last few weeks I’ve found myself feeling the familiar clutching in my gut that for me indicates there’s something I need to speak and I’m afraid to speak it. I’ve alternately felt terrified – frozen into inaction, and pissed “why does it ‘have to be’ me?!”
And, though I don’t always do this perfectly, I now know enough to know BOTH that I cannot not speak, AND that I am committed to not speaking until I have come back to my center and can speak from that clear and truly courageous place.
This means I’ve been deep in my practice of connecting with my Codes so that I’m clear I’m being directed by my inner gyroscope and that I’m standing for expansiveness of possibilities, and our capacities for greater freedom in choosing our responses to life.
I’ve also been connecting with trusted members of my community – Susie Weller was one of those. One day last week as we connected on the phone I shared what I was experiencing. Her question ‘how can I best support you?’ was an invitation for me to embrace my humanity. Though I was determined to not step away from the terror I was feeling, and committed to harvesting the value I know in my bones is embedded in this (and every) experience we have, I was afraid to go there alone.
Susie held space for me as I connected deeply with my body and allowed my loving attention to simply rest on the energy – feeling into the CORE of what was there until the energy dissipated and I could really come home to me.
So I’ve been speaking, and some things have changed! I’ve also learned more deeply that it doesn’t always ‘have to be’ me – others have stepped up and spoken as well! Situations and possibilities have opened up. AND, in those spaces where I’ve not yet seen the changes I’m standing for, I’m becoming clearer about my freedom to choose my responses life as it is right now, while still holding possibility.
What about you? As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on these ideas, and your own experiences in the practice of courageously standing … and speaking.