Rising every time we fall

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Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall. – Confucius

For those who need hope today, I offer you this reminder, which has been present in human beings for all time: “Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall.”

So often, we value being positive above truly living. So often, we want the world to see our best face, as if we have never failed. So often, we do not really live, because we have not fallen into the darkest places in ourselves, and risen, free.

We limit ourselves. We limit ourselves by holding back, on the edge of our despair and discomfort, on the edges of our lonely and lost places. We limit ourselves when we are clear, always, on how to act and how to not act, on what to choose, and on what not to choose; we limit ourselves when our greatest value is to hold on to those rules of etiquette that were given to us as children, and which we cherish, holding tightly to them. We hold our breath. We hold back our true selves, our deepest selves, our richest selves.

We drown, really, in the great waves of despair that threaten to overcome us, when we fight those waves of despair. When we ride those waves, when we go down, into the darkness and depths, we rise again, our faces radiant, our hearts bursting, our eyes shining with the knowing that we have faced the very worst, and we live, we live! Then, we shine our eyes toward others, and we see and know their despair, also. Until we have gone into the darkness, our hearts cannot open to the pain of the world.

It is difficult to totter on the edge of the abyss, that difficult, tear-filled place within ourselves, to always be careful never to break the rules we were taught as children: “Be careful!” “Don’t be mad!” “No tears, now!” Or we totter on the edge of the abyss when we are confronted, once again, with a memory that reminds us of an angry parent, the silent bitterness of that place we left long ago, that place that still has the power to haunt our lives. Yes, it is difficult to totter on the edge of the abyss, that place that has us balancing, using our vital energy just to stay afloat.

In this drought, I watch the dry plants wither in the summer sun, and I know, without a doubt, one green shoot will stay alive, catch the tiniest drop of moisture from the winter rain, and come to life again, surely, in the spring.

Today, if you are lonely, if you are in pain, give yourself the gift of relishing that loneliness. Revel in it. Go for it!

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall.”

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