Wednesday 26 November 2014

Be Broken. Be Open. Be Okay with Chaos.

I read two really great articles recently that spoke to me, and I think they may speak to you.

The first one was called “Why Lying Broken In a Pile On Your Bedroom Floor is a Good Idea” by JC Peters. The second was a piece called “Time To Get Honest About Being Disabled”, published in Disabled Magazine and written by a man named David A Grant who’s a traumatic brain injury survivor.

These two articles on their own are amazing and powerful, but reading them both in one week has sort of blown my mind.


Julie Peters explains in her article that there’s a goddess named Akhilanda, whose name basically means “Never Not Broken”. Peters (and Akhi herself) sort of suggest the idea that being broken is part of growth, part of change; so instead of looking at ourselves and saying, “Whyyyy am I so broken? I suck because I’m broken,” we can say, “I am broken because I am growing.”

I am broken because that’s how things grow. So being broken (physically or mentally, whatever you’re dealing with) isn’t weakness, and it’s not the endgame; it’s the start of the new you. And if you’re like me and you crave constant growth, then you’ve got to expect—and embrace—constant breakage. I come undone because I am always undone. I am never finished. I am an agent of change.


This obviously paired really beautifully with Grant’s article, which talked about how much time we all spend trying to appear ‘normal’ or ‘healthy’. God, we expend a lot of energy trying to pretend we’re OK. And for what? Grant points out that those of us with invisible ‘broken parts’ can become isolated by our own perfect acting. Instead of burning ourselves out pretending we’re fine, why can’t we just accept ourselves as imperfect creatures? If we all did this, unabashedly and with a sense of pride for our individualized strengths, wouldn’t we find out that normal isn’t the norm at all?


I read these two articles the same week that I saw Bob, my psycho-spiritual mechanic (my counsellor, in layman’s terms) and he suggested that I need to start working on better embracing chaos when it hits. I’m not a chaos fan. I like things to fit neatly into little boxes, to start when they’re supposed to start and end when they’re supposed to end. I like things quiet unless it’s an orderly noise. I like it when the dog stops shedding for the season. I like it when my house is clean.

This week I stopped trying to keep away the chaos. I started by giving up on my house cleaning. I never really get on top of it anyway, what with teaching and running a start-up company; why stress about what I can’t currently control anyway? That drove me a bit batty, but I managed and I figured that would be what I told Bob I did this week—yay, me. Instead, the goddess Akhilanda decided I needed to be pushed a little further. So on Wednesday morning my car wouldn’t start, and after four days of driving around a loaner while we diagnosed the problem, the loaner blew a tire, leaving me stranded in a Chapters parking lot.


It’s a funny thing, personal growth. When you decide to start down a road of self-discovery and self-acceptance, momentum can start to pick up. One learning opportunity after another will start to happen, sometimes faster and faster until you can’t tell where one ends and the next begins. As I stood beside my loaner car waiting for help, I called MJ and laughed with all my heart at the ridiculous chaos of my life. I didn’t freak out. I just laughed, bought myself a banana loaf inside, and waited for help.

So I guess, if I package up all my learning this week for you to also benefit from, I’d have to say this to you:
Be forever broken.
Embrace it, inside and out.
And don’t fear the chaos, because it’s part of the eternal breaking/mending cycle.

Two days later, my car is fixed, I’ve scored some major victories in my work, and I’m sitting in my chair now, listening to MJ sing as she bakes while Corben sheds relentlessly all over my feet and my unwashed hardwood floors. And I’m pretty content, actually.

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