Essay from a kosmos reader

Being Brave


It is unfortunate, yet undeniable that we often question our firmly-held beliefs only when confronted by vexing circumstances—the kind that present us with opportunity to either clamp down and become more rigid or to open vulnerably to inquiry, unraveling, and the expansion of our worldviews. 

If truth must be safely limited to what we already know—and we are too fragile to consider the “more”—our realities are stunted and inert. Contemplation leads to profound acknowledgement: whatever can be comfortably grasped cannot also likely be absolute.

Looking through the eyes of compassion, we understand how a species with great capacity for flexibility might be especially prone to living within a restricted range of motion. Our self-protective tendencies make the process of loosening immensely tender for us…To say, “My interpretation might be wrong…my worldview, biased and blinding…I might not be seeing everything there is to see,” requires courage.

Although it should always be a noble aim to cultivate something as vibrant, wild, and worthy as truth—within and between us—we are conditioned to feel and endorse shame and fear. We have an aversion toward messy practice and stumbling through the stages of not knowing that precede higher consciousness. So, it seems, both individually and as part of larger systems, we frequently get stuck; unless, perhaps, grace allows into our lives enough compounding, catalytic moments to make growth a favored course.

Through my initiation into motherhood, it was as if the Mystery was shaking me awake. Becoming a parent is world-altering for many; for me, the quake was magnified by the gift of a child with disabilities.

Coming to hold my sweet girl—intimate with the drawn-out suspension of other my pursuits, questions without answers, and the exhaustive rooting down to offer a bottomless depth of care—fractured and shifted all the pieces of me. My existing identities and purposes suddenly measured far too stiff to bear emerging ambiguities. I yearned to become more limber. 

Paradoxically, we must tell ourselves “the truth”—and exact our subjective forms upon it—while still being malleable to its transforming revelations. In this reciprocity, reality assumes the dynamic qualities of a verb—co-creative and unfolding through symbols, postures, and movements which invite our synchrony. As we approach knowledge and more consciously participate, embodying the solidness of self and society, we must remain open to experience’s bent to challenge and implicate us. We must embrace our duty to respond as a fractal part of the whole, as ones whose inner lives—for better or worse—golden spiral out into the world and have impact. 

A few years into my journey as a mother, I heard a radio segment discussing text that compared parenting to carpentry and gardening. The author described how well-intentioned carpenter-like parents might try to hammer their children into smooth-sanded objects with precise angles that would fit into certain schools and career paths. Gardener-like parents, on the other hand, moved away from this top-down philosophy and tended, instead, to the growing conditions that would enable their children to flourish from the ground up, developing their own definitions of success.

Where my achievement-orientation and performing-masculine energies lent more toward a woodworking approach—and the hope of getting parenting “right”—my daughter’s uniqueness led me outside, to the uneven ground and into a softer, more intuitive-feminine stance. It was evident, quite early on, that she would not triumph in the same ways I had; her offerings would be distinct. And, raising her up with fidelity necessitated striking a balance of guidance and receptivity.

Truth is a mediation. An integration between synapses, between brain hemispheres, and between your heart, mine, the heart of others and of the Earth. Truth grows out of the fertile ground between opposites, a valley that social media algorithms squelch to promote the addictive, outrage-inducing binary thoughts our brainstems crave. It cannot thrive in religious, political, and academic institutions that favor dichotomies over the immeasurable capacities of adaptability, creativity, and authentic discourse vital to a future. 

Yet here we are. With ominous conditions and infinite potential. In need of a bridge.

In my experience, becoming an adult and mother-artist has been about learning to hold many things, seemly contradictory, at once. Feelings, interpretations, fears, hopes, questions, desires.

True spirituality embraces the juggling of all this, which takes faith. Like the body in mountain pose—when all appears effortless and still—every fiber is engaged and working hard.

Recently, a friend reminded me of Frog and Toad’s “The Garden,” which features Toad—wanting the harvest that Frog has—yelling at his seeds just after he’s placed them in the soil. When Frog says the seeds must be very afraid, Toad reads them candlelit stories by night and sings for them by day. Finally, when he exhausts himself and rests, his beautiful sprouts emerge.

Likewise, we habitually strive to have the realities in our lives propagate in a certain manner and time. We struggle to make peace with the restlessness in our nature. We wander farther from truth when we de-value the Earth and neglect invitations to apprentice with the native wisdom of land and spirit. In these gaps, we have nearly forgotten how to rest, praise, and pray.

The movement from rigidity is to turn away from our closed-off toiling and reach across. This is not easy. In fact, it’s risky to open ourselves to mystery, to influence, and the inner and outer ostracisms we may face by negating our own dogma.

Whatever truth challenges us—whatever reality is most difficult to face and integrate—also has the potential to nourish us, to mother us…so we can be fully alive—neither set in my ways or spineless.

My daughter is now six years old. She loves music, anticipating the stars all day, and holding toy phones to her ear. I feel sure that Truth is calling. 

There are many times when, as her mother, I need to provide active guidance and love. There are also times when I need to soothe myself, regard her solitude, and witness her soul’s blossoming…that it may change me.

To nurture her, I am challenged to hold her loosely enough that I can realize my own flowering.

After all, we are all seeds, afraid of some truth, waiting for another’s sweet voice to sing: 

“Be brave of it.”

About Sheersty Stanton

Sheersty Stanton, MS, native to Kansas, aspires to spark the transformation that is not only possible but paramount within systems of all levels today – the personal, communal, and global. Her vocational aim is to integrate between ideologies, and between humanity, nature, and the Sacred, through capacity-building and creative works. (glasswingcreative.com)

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