I am learning.  The process is slow, and I am impatient.  But that's the point. I am a slow learner because I am reluctant to let go of my impatience.

I saw this video the other day, and it struck me in a way that many of these motivational tools don't.  Perhaps because pieces of it remind me so much of myself and the place I am living in now.  It reminded me too of people I love, the ones who have added to this message in my life, and others who are struggling in many of the same ways I am.  

With Yom Kippur just passed, I am still sitting in the afterglow of all the reflection that comes with that time of year.  I did something for the high holiday that I thought I would never do, I decided to attend an Orthodox service, complete with mechitzah.  For those of you who don't know, a mechitzah is the wall that separates the women from the men in a Jewish Orthodox synagogue. I vowed I would never set foot in a place where women are relegated to the back.  But I was joining with a new friend in Vancouver and took the leap to experience something new.  Thankfully this synagogue places the wall through the center of the sanctuary from front to back, so that everyone has the same view of the bimah (altar) and there is no sense that the more important people are sitting up front. 

Aside from the initial obvious lesson of not judging a book by its cover, the Rabbi too had some important things to say about where I am at.  He began by talking about Adin Steinsaltz, a brilliant Rabbinic scholar, some of whose books I have read and love. He had my attention right away.... He explained an interpretation Steinsaltz made of a particular prayer we say on Yom Kippur, a prayer about making things right with G-d and others, about forgiving others and ourselves, and wiping the slate clean.  Steinsaltz looked at this prayer a bit differently.  He explained that we are also asking G-d to remake our image of ourselves, or rather to kill the image-making entirely, so that the real person we are meant to be can come out and flourish.  The Rabbi went on to say that this process is possible because G-d is the G-d of second chances. The correction we must make, he said, is the change of direction, listening to the recalculating of the internal GPS, so to speak, which is the voice of our soul. 

Steinsaltz, and this Orthodox Rabbi,  and the voice of my soul, are all exactly right.  But most of the time, things need to be taken away, the slate of our lives needs to be cleaned.... in order for us to hear. Constructs we've built, comforts, relationships, money, reputation, health, can all be removed in order for us to finally hear and see.  As it turns out, G-d isn't being cruel, but rather bringing us to a place where we can learn to confidently walk the journey to our real selves, the place where we can be fully ourselves and trust that it is okay to be that person.  We are loved so much that if we don't listen to the lesson the first time (or second or third, or...) it will be repeated until we get it.

So I have been brought to this place where the rug has been pulled out from under me more times than I would like to count. But I think, and hope, that I am finally getting it. The loss of important things, the move to the coast, have all made way for the leap into a full-time art career. I can learn from  nothing.  I can build from a place of nothing. I can start with a blank canvas and make something beautiful. 

And I will trust this journey, because G-d is a G-d of second chances, and loves me much more than I love myself.  I will dare to live the life of an artist, the life of a person who lives to give the same things I have been given.  I will live from a place of generous love, love that spills onto the canvas and onto the people I know and will get to know.  I will be generous with second chances, and  with understanding and patience, with giving room, to myself and others, to learn and grow. Because we are all either on this journey of image-killing, or coming to nothingness again and again until we finally agree to walk with the others living from their soul.  We can all come to our real selves.  We can all look for and find our real voice.  Really, we would all love to live in a way that is free of fear....  

Starting from a place of nothing, with thankfulness on one shoulder, and love on the other, isn't so bad after all....