I’m sitting on the porch of my new property, which I am calling ‘StudioBe”. The new sofas for the upstairs offices have all been delivered and are being unpacked and set up, as we speak. The gardener is here to mow the lawn and, as I write, the smell of freshly cut grass and the sound of Snatam’s voice are deliciously tickling my senses.
It feels right to be here.
I am so grateful.
Before I continue with the second part of “Reunion”, I’m going to address some feedback I received regarding Part One. Someone, whose opinion means a great deal to me, observed that the energy of the journal entry from 2007 was very different from the energy I write from currently. She wondered if there was any benefit to my revisiting that time of my life and about my choice to publish the journal entry in my blog. When she said that I was surprised but, on consideration, I realized that perhaps part of why I published it was to see just what kind of feedback I would get.
When I found that journal entry last week, one of the first things that popped out at me was how different my “ writing voice” sounds now. It seemed to be a reinforcement of how much I’ve changed over the past seven years and how far I’ve come, in terms of stepping into my “true self”. It was amazing to have a glimpse of myself at the time, standing on the precipice of a completely new life with absolutely no idea of what was in store. And yet, part of me knew it was coming. Part of me knew I had to follow where my emotions were leading and pursue the new path that was unfolding before me. I couldn’t have known how uncertain and how very scary things were about to become, and yet, I was already talking myself through it. At the end of the first journal entry, I wrote:
“There is information in these feelings that I know I must have filed away for good reason. I think I’m ready to know what’s there now, ready to bring it all into the light. Something tells me that it will be alright, though. I need to know the truth. I deserve to be free.”
Knowing what I know now, I’d say those were pretty prophetic words.
And that is why I wanted to share it with you. I wanted to illustrate that, if we allow ourselves to tap into and listen to our inner voice, our intuition, we’ll have all the information we need to take the next steps forward, even in darkness.
My friend, Jamie, reminded me of that, a few weekends ago, when I was visiting him at his home in Muskoka. I was telling him that I had decided to give away one of the first paintings I had ever completed. This painting means a lot to me but, because it is a portrait of someone I used to be in a relationship with, it was suggested to me (by, yet another, friend) that I get rid of it to “make room for the new man in my life”, especially because I was storing it under my bed, at the time :)
At first, her advice seemed pretty valid and I was actually feeling good about giving the person the gift of the portrait I had painted of them. I wrapped up the painting, wrote a brief note and planned to drop it off on my way up north to visit Jamie.
As things turned out, I was running late and didn’t have time to drop off the painting but I wanted to get it out of my house so I brought it here, to StudioBe before I headed up north.
That night, at dinner, I told Jamie about my plans to give the painting away and, to my surprise, he questioned why I would want to do such a thing. I described the painting, who it was of and the how the “vision” of the image itself and the idea to paint it had come to me in two separate meditations. I told him what my friend had said about how I should give the painting away and that I had mixed feelings about it but really didn’t want to hold on to something that represented an “old” energy. On top of that, I had pulled an Osho Zen Tarot card that morning and it’s message was about not putting things off. I felt it was a confirmation that giving the painting away was the right choice and that it had to happen ASAP.
Let me first say that Jamie and I have not known each other long but we are very deeply connected. I’m often amazed at how insightful he can be about where I’m at and how clearly he sees my beauty and my truth, even better than I can. Suffice it to say, I was not prepared for the perspective he was about to offer.
What he said stunned and moved me.
I think he began by asking me why I thought, after all the work I have done and how intuitive I am, that I still had to consult Tarot cards for guidance and why I was following advice before really looking into my soul for the answer. He reminded me that all the answers to every dilemma must be found within and that my decision to give the painting away could not have come from that place, and here’s why…
He went on to say that, even though that painting was in the image of a former love, it was not a painting of him, it was a painting of me. I had painted it for myself, as a healing journey and in celebration of the beautiful connection we once had and of our time together. There was so much love and gratitude poured into that painting that giving it away seemed so counter-intuitive. It wasn’t something to be hidden under a bed or to be ashamed of for painting in the first place or to be given away to someone who would probably never know or appreciate the beautiful story of how it came to be.
It was something to be held sacred and for now, at least, it belonged with me.
Wow, was he ever right. As soon as he said it, my eyes welled up with tears.
I have no idea how I did it but, somehow, in the painting, I captured a favourite expression of my former partner and, when I look at his face on the canvas, I feel the love I have for him and the greater love I have learned to have for myself, reflected back at me. The painting has a lot of unconscious symbolism in it (because it came to me in a meditation) and represents love, nurturance, new growth, healing, potential, trust, change and the impermanence of everything.
Thinking of it now, as a self-portrait, makes me weep because it is so true. I didn’t know why I was painting it then, but I sure do now.
When I came back from my weekend with Jamie, I unwrapped the painting and hung it in the upstairs hallway of StudioBe. Some people might think it’s weird that I hung my former lover’s portrait there, but I don’t care. I know the truth about that painting, and that’s all that matters.
What Jamie helped me to see is that I must re-commit to trusting my own inner guidance. In my eagerness to move on and make room for the new things in my life, I had failed to see how sacred that painting was. I’m so grateful for Jamie’s honesty and wisdom. There are no words.
And now, if I haven’t gone too far off course, here is the second half of “Reunion”. Hope you enjoy :)
Reunion, Part Two
August 20, 2007
In the midst of all this emotion, I found myself still quite able to sing along, however looking over Linda’s shoulder the whole time made it that much harder to follow the music and I decided that I needed to get my own copies. I guess I must have asked for the music out loud, which caused Mr. Low to pause and say “I know that voice. Don’t tell me…”
Now at this point, I must add that in all my visions of the moment when I would see Mr. Low again , I pictured him taking one look at me, recognizing me immediately and jumping up excitedly to give me a big, long awaited hug. I figured that the reason this had not happened up to this moment was that he had either not noticed that I had arrived, or that he did not want to interrupt the flow of the rehearsal. Now, as I looked at him in anticipation and straightened up my posture so he could get a better look at me, I found myself panicking with the thought that he may not remember me. In those few seconds, my entire high school life passed before my eyes, as I waited for him to make the connection…and finally, he said…
“Miss Richards!” Oh, what a relief that was! And so, confidently I replied, “ Hello, Sir!” And in more ways than you can possible imagine, all was right with the World!
During the break, each of us introduced ourselves and gave a brief catch-up of what we had been doing the past 30 years or so, and then went on to sing the familiar classical choral pieces that we had all come to love. A few of them turned out to be my absolute favourites from the time, such as Vivaldi’s “Gloria”, “Laudate Dominum” from Mozart’s Requiem, and Judy’s and my personal favourite, “This Little Babe” by Benjamin Britten. I was so excited when we began to rehearse the latter, that I called up Judy on my cell phone and made her listen as we sang – she squealed into the phone yelling “No Way!” and laughed hysterically. I should mention that the reason we have such affection for this song is not so much for the song itself but for the “alternate version” of it that we collaborated on while smoking a joint behind the Uptown theatre entitled “This Little Roach”. I guess you had to be there, but it is one of those few happy memories I have of getting stoned as a teenager, (usually with Judy) and the two of us love to reminisce about these times quite frequently. It just seemed fitting that she should be a part of the experience of hearing the choir sing the original version of it at our first rehearsal, even if she wasn’t able to hear it (and sing it) in person.
When rehearsal was over, I think we all had a real sense of elation and there was a celebratory feeling in the air. I felt it quite strongly, and even found myself breaking into a chorus of the Jarvis school song! After the first verse of “JCI, our loyal cry is ringing clear and true” I heard someone shout out:
“My god, Tracy, you haven’t changed since high school! You’re still acting like the head of the school spirit committee!”
And then it hit me. She was right! I was still that same young girl inside, the one that was trying to encourage the rest of the world to get involved and make a change. I have come to understand over the years that one of my greatest talents has been to motivate and inspire people, and I have even gone on to do it professionally, as a Spiritual Psychotherapist, Teacher and Writer. What was amazing to me in that moment, as the words of the school song still rang through my head, was that this ability was apparent even then, as a 15 year-old girl. And again, twice in the same night, I noticed that I had unexpectedly discovered another significant yet unrecognized truth about myself – all through the simple experience of a high school reunion choir rehearsal.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
So that’s what this book as about. It’s the story of a girl, who somehow learned to believe that she was damaged and unworthy. A beautiful, intelligent, passionate girl who, even though she had such strength of character and was able to face the most challenging of circumstances head-on, still grew up feeling ashamed of who she was. This story is not unique, and therefore it is one of hope, because this girl is an inspiration to anyone who has ever discovered the paradox of who they really are and has wondered how to come to terms with it.
If my reunion has caused me to re-discover this girl and embrace her, then I want to explore all the reasons that I left her behind in the first place. It feels to me as if the last 25 years or so have been dedicated to proving to myself that I was no longer that girl. That I had “become’ something different, better, more worthy of being loved. Its amazing to me how much inside the Illusion I have been all along – and how, in a few short months I have realized that it is time to drop the arrogance of thinking that I will ever be fully “dis-illusioned”.
For example, let me take you back to April of 1997 when Jules Fine, my step-father passed away after a 7 year period of health issues following a stroke. I really did begin my “process of Illumination” or “conscious journey” as I have come to call it and I think, over the last decade, that I actually believed that this was the “major awakening”. I was under the impression that I had dropped the veil completely and was now on the road to discovery, completely unhindered by any false beliefs about myself. I thought I knew what motivated me and why I made the choices that I made.
But now I realize that, even then, I was still invested in the life I had created for myself. Even though I now understood that I had manufactured my perfect Jewish existence in Thornhill as a means to feel more identified with my Dad – I still didn’t realize that this was only part of the picture – one significant, but solitary piece of the “Tracy Puzzle”.
So, this chapter is about surrendering to the reality that I may never have all the pieces of the puzzle, and therefore I should not expect that this Masterpiece that I call My Life will ever be finished, let alone completely understood, by me or anyone else.
The Journey is REALLY a Journey – not just a poetic way of describing our existence on this planet. By definition, a journey never really ends and there is no real destination. It is the experience and what we learn from it that matters.
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TRACY B RICHARDS IS A SPIRITUAL PSYCHOTHERAPIST, MENTOR, WRITER & SPEAKER
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