When I was much younger, I sought out the insight and guidance of a counselor/therapist to help me sort out a significant relationship that had crashed down all around me, taking me with it. I was in the throes of picking myself up off the ground, trying to decide if I believed the sky was blue because people told me it was, or if I truly knew that. The betrayal and disappointment of the crumbled relationship left me feeling the expected sad, heartbroken and angry mixed up emotions; but I also felt so disoriented and unsure. My foundation felt as if it had been rocked and it took me quite a time to inside out and right side up myself.
In this process, I remember distinctly, in one of the sessions; we talked about about choice. About connection. About trusting self. The therapist waxed eloquent about many things; she was really good. That conversation is mostly, now, simply an essence in my mind these many years later. But what I can still hear, crystal clear, is a statement she made. I can hear her to this day, with the clarity of clinking wine glasses or a bat and ball connecting on a grand slam. She simply said that we must look for and choose people to surround us who ‘inspirit us’ and to selectively limit those who ‘disinspirit us'; then we talked for awhile about what this meant and how to recognize it going forward. To seek out those who breathe life into us, and to be cognizant of those who leave us feeling deflated.
I return to that idea, that template if you will, often. It’s one of those moments that rang so true for me, made sense on such a foundational level; it was a pivot point in the right-siding-up process for me. In crisis, is also an opportunity to begin to see things in new ways.
Like many good life lessons we collect along the way; it stayed with me but I will be honest and tell you that it was and is not always top of mind; we lose perspective. We get distracted. We get lazy; complacent. With healing, comes too the risk of receding from the active state of intentional growth. It’s hard work. Life delivers so many lessons to us; it seems fair to say that they can sometimes feel like a rolodex, spinning from one to the next.
At a point in my life where I feel drawn to think carefully, choose as wisely as I can - to be intentional in all things – I once again find myself bumping up against this way of thinking.
The life-rolodex has spun me back to the letter I…intentional, inspirit.
Flash forward some twenty years and over a recent lunch with a treasured friend who also happens to be a gifted therapist; and while deep in conversation about marriages, friendships, partnerships, relationships – all of the people we bring into our lives – she eloquently rolls off her tongue the idea, this truth, that when any relationship requires us to be small, remain small or somehow get small in order to sustain the relationship, to keep it alive – we have to ask ourselves if it is worth it. Is it right?
I made her stop. Say it again, and then again, so I could write it down. There was that ringing clarity again.
I also see now that if we have to be small, we cannot feel inspirited by another – for implicit in the idea of being inspirited is a sense of expansion, taking in oxygen and feeling filled with life and joy.
No, the two are contrary to each other.
But, to be intentional about who we invite into our lives, as friends, business partners, lovers, spouses, friends, requires that we identify and know what we need to feel inspirited. And, that we also have the capacity, yes, to be inspiriting to others? I read the other day that
Over time, as we grow, we have to remember that we gradually learn to be less focused on personality and to identify more closely with essence, the true nature of ourselves and others. – Wisdom of the Enneagram
In my never ending and seemingly bottomless-pit quest for understanding, peace and direction, I found myself nodding and finding some resonance in a comment on a blog where the person shared that after much hurt and consternation when things in her life were just not going right, with time and careful discernment it came clear to her that she wanted someone – companions – friends – people in her life – who feel like a warm sunny summer morning.
someone who feels like a warm sunny summer morning.
The way I see it, that’s a great way to frame it! The feeling of those words echoed a true and clear resonance. They remind me, in their own way, of choosing a word to guide our year. Allowing essence to guide our connections.
Click. Clink. Crack.
The words leaped off the page and into me and answered questions I didn’t quite realize I had already begun asking myself. And connected themselves readily to these ideas of inspirit and taking up the space of who we really are. Not shaving off corners and bits here and there.
If we are really paying attention to the quiet still parts of ourselves – not always easy to do – perhaps we can learn to better recognize those who inspirit us, those who make room for us no matter our ‘size’ and who feel like a warm sunny summer morning.
Or maybe for some of us it is a clear spring day? Or a crisp autumn afternoon? Or a cozy fireside seat on a brisk blustery evening? For each of us the essence will be unique; what’s important is finding out what it is.