"The soul selects her own society---then shuts the door."
Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love has this poem written on the steps leading up to her writing space, an attic transformed into a beautiful library she has named the "skybrary."
Surrounded by the society of writers past and present, she shuts the door to the world outside and then proceeds to open another door. She opens the door and invites the whole world into her mind.
I have been mystified by this poem since I encountered it and will probably spend the day thinking about what it means for me. Years after my assault, I'm discovering that I no longer want to shut the door to my community and to society. In fact, I suddenly feel an urgency to keep the door open.
So I'm taking a new path. Roots of Empathy's Expansion team USA is now "my team". I simply asked the question "how may I help" and was invited in.
The answer to the question "how may I help" is the simplest and yet most challenging request: form a community of helpers (start a committee), reach out to local schools, and commit to help raise funds.
Each one of these tasks seem overwhelming at the moment. But then I remembered this thought:
"would you rather seek comfort for yourself, or joyfully do God's work?"
I choose joy over comfort. Being comfortable made me overweight and afraid of challenges. Seeking comfort puts my life and the life of my family at stake. The world needs empathy, compassion and healthy parent/child relationships in order to thrive in the midst of violence and terrorism.
Seeking comfort gave me an insecure approach to life. I lost many opportunities to live fully and in accordance with my deepest, most cherished values. While it's true that I value our choice to start independent, handmade businesses and to live the lifestyle of home education, for the last week, I've been awake long into the night with a mix of anxiety, pressure, and excitement. I'm waiting for this surge of tumultuous change to settle into a new, peaceful routine. I am choosing to face the bears on the trail of my mind. I have to face every single fear I have in reaching out into new territory. I have to get over this idea that you can shut the door to your society and be fulfilled and sustained by thoughts and ideas alone.
I am afraid.