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Making Meaning

Can you find meaning in a brutal, uncertain and chaotic world? Can we even talk of meaning when we ourselves feel lost, alone and afraid?

Meaning is not found in other people, places or things.

Meaning is found inside the war within ourselves.

This week I talked to writers and artists exclusively about the internal war we wage against ourselves.

I am talking about a silent dream killer: resistance.

When I was a mom of babies, I used to think that lack of sleep was the only enemy I faced. But as my husband’s addiction worsened over time, I was pressed to see the edges of what I willing to see about my own resistance to taking risks in my life. After he died, my resistance unleashed a torrent of self-sabotaging behaviors that confounded me so deeply. Resistance is merciless.

If you’ve read even a chapter of Braving Creativity, you know that my mission to support artists and writers to make meaning in their lives is born out of the chaos inside my particular childhood family system. In childhood, I cemented beliefs to protect me from what I perceived to be risks associated with my behaviors. The "good behaviors" and the "bad ones." I was very sensitive to change.

Not just the big changes, but the subtle non-verbal shifts in the environment where I registered threat. I learned to mitigate threat with advanced warning systems and control centers that helped me avoid risk at all costs.

Resistance is fueled by fear.

We need our courage to make choices in the full light of awarness.

To live by choice is to live riskily, says the late author William Bridges.

And yet, that is how we grow.

Often we don't register resistance until our behavior becomes so destructive, becomes such an impediment to progress, becomes so confusing and so painful that we might, we just might, shine a light at the root of it.

But most of us do not.

And it makes sense.

There is an ocean of grief we have to swim through to find the meaning we seek. Resistance keeps us from discovering the kind of belonging that comes from believing that we have a right to be here without waring with ourselves. If "right here" is the saddest place in the world, then come on in and sit with grief.

Grief is not an enemy.

It’s a balm, really. It's something we all can share.

Grief may be the only path to take to end the war within so that we find our courage to make our own meaning in our lives. That is, to live riskily.

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