An Uninvited Guest


You came to me last night
right when I was
expecting to sleep
so that I could dream of
well-grazed fields
covered in wildflowers.

But no! — you came with your
menacing eyes and
chattering mouth and
with claws beginning to expose themselves
from your rough hands.

At first —
I was scared.
Who wouldn’t be!?
You’re pretty ugly.

And, it’s in the middle of the night!
(and now, flipping on the night-light)

Then, I did the unexpected.

I asked you to get bigger
and meaner and scarier.
I wanted to see all your sides
and your ugliest face
and hear your loudest sneer —
and you did all this.

It was a true spectacle!
What a performance!

It wasn’t long, though,
that you were taken with exhaustion
from stretching yourself
this way and that
and growling
and pouncing.
And, with one last grunt,
you went away, panting —
dragging your feet.

I waited a moment,
making sure you were gone.
And then, I called after you,
“Remember this —
if you visit me,
I’m going to want to see it all.”

With this said,
I went to bed.

This poem was inspired by the nature of my night last night. It’s the dark of Winter — a time when we go inward.  Sometimes fears come and they are easy to relieve. Sometimes they come in small armies and occupy a lot of my time. In the Winter-time, I’ve noticed that the critters just love longer nights and stillness. And, considering that I am in a time of transition — perfect fodder for fears and things unresolved!

Much of my exploration of yoga has been an exploration in understanding my fears. My main yoga teacher, Katchie Ananda, who has been a brilliant and wise presence in my life, has spoken about fears many times. One practice she spoke about a few times in class is to allow your fears to expand and enlarge to the edges of your imagination so that you can get beyond the repetitious cycle of fear thoughts. You can build up your courage and actually see the flimsy limitations that fears have!  Like you and me, they just want to be seen and heard.

In my own experiences with this practice, I have noticed that when I make my fear bigger, I see how hard it has to work to keep me in a state of shock or being frozen. Eventually, I get to a place where I can hold this fear with humor and love and I begin to see the other side of it (normally, there is some vulnerability and/or pain hidden underneath that needs more of my awareness). This practice has been an excellent tool for me to melt these fears and see them for what they really are — most of the time a fear-thought clouding a pain I hold inside. Ultimately, this allows me to have more space for what lies beyond the fear and the pain — a sense of clarity and a broader access to creativity.

My word for 2010 is Courage. This is the word I chose to shape my up-coming year while I was sitting on the floor in the dark with a candle lit on New Years Eve. Courage. I exchanged some emails with my dear friend Simona about this and these are her words, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather a noticing of fear and fearful patterns and a curiosity/exploration of them and the act of meeting them with grace and a loving attitude. ”

I would also like to share a poem with Rumi that speaks to this practice of learning and understanding fears so that we can be more courageous and in turn, creative. I think he expresses the heart of the practice in a beautiful way:

The Guest House
(translation by Coleman Barks)

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re crowded of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture, still,
treat each guest honorable.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
becuase each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

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6 thoughts on “An Uninvited Guest

  1. Pingback: Kumbha Moon and Setting Intentions | Madhupa Maypop

  2. Pingback: I Was Born to Do This | Madhupa Maypop

  3. Beautiful.
    I’d just like to share Brene Brown’s definition of courage (from her talk on Vulnerability):
    “Courage – to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart”.

  4. Pingback: Winter Womb and the Dark | Madhupa Maypop

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