“Real Substantive Engagement”

Erica said something that turned out to be really important in our phone conversation on Friday.   There are things she says, and her wording is different and elegant, and I need to get her exact words, because if I say it in my own words it loses something.  I think about her wonderful words about my “tenacity” in searching for real “engagement.”  It’s odd that I can’t remember her words.  I’ll have to go back and find them again.

She said (October 14)  “Your tenacity in wanting to be engaged in real substantive ways.”

It’s an important concept for me.  I think it’s one of the reasons I’m doing so much better.  Seeing my fierce and relentless search to create “real substantive engagement” with the world, knowing that this is how I’ve lived my life, committed to engagement, to deep connection and conversation with everyone and everything I meet — this is not a wasted life.  I see that when I failed to engage — as I often did when I was younger — it was either because I didn’t have the social skills, or because my wish to go deep could not be met by people who were afraid to look at the truth, or who were in denial and couldn’t even see that there was truth.  The words “real,” “substantive,” “engagement” describe the truth I’ve been committed to searching for all my life.  This is what my life is about.

Erica’s phrase crystallized the enormous change I’ve been going through.  I see that I’m much more resilient.  I recently went through several of those struggles to order something on the internet, needing help from a real human being for something that is more complex than a “frequently asked question.”  Instead of collapsing in frustration/helplessness, I got angry and the energy of anger helped me to continue with the task and bring it to a successful conclusion.  Once I had succeeded, my anger disappeared.

In the past, something going wrong could disappear things that had gone right and bring me way down.  Now, a few small good things can change my mood completely.  Whatever I was bummed out about has lost its power.  Good things have started to outweigh the bad.  Not so much in size, as in my capacity to hold on to them.  This is what emotional health is like.  So much more resilient.  Able to get frustrated and have it turn to the energy of anger instead of the collapse of freeze.  Being able to hold on to the good things.  I’m so grateful, so grateful.

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