“I remember something that my friend Maria’s husband, Giulio, said to me once. We were sitting in an outdoor cafe, having our conversation practice, and he asked me what I thought of Rome. I told him I really loved the place, of course, but somehow knew it was not my city, not where I’d end up living for the rest of my life. There was something about Rome that didn’t belong to me, and I couldn’t quite figure out what it was.
…Then he went on to explain, in a mixture of English, Italian and hand gestures, that every city has a single word that defines it, that identifies most people who live there. If you could read people’s thoughts as they were passing you on the streets of any given place, you would discover that most of them are thinking the same thought. Whatever that majority thought might be-that is the word of the city. And if your personal word does not match the word of the city, then you don’t really belong there.”
-Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love
I know exactly what she’s talking about.
I’ve visited places that, for no apparent reason have felt just as comfortable as a perfectly broken-in pair of jeans, as well as places that, for no reason I could see, made me feel so uncomfortable that I just wanted to peel off all my skin and flee the planet.
I’m in a very good place right now, and since my environment is such a great match for my word, now I’m really curious as to what exactly that word might be.
I definitely know some words that it is not. I spent many years forcing myself to stay in environments and situations that did not match my word, as apparently I sometimes like to take the extra special bonus course in Learning Things The Hard Way.
I served a tour of duty in BLIND OBEDIENCE.
I did some hard time over in IMAGE AND ILLUSION.
I dabbled in ACADEMIA and BEING A PROFESSIONAL.
I served a sentence as LABORER.
And I spent an inordinate amount of time in the land of VICTIM.
Of course, the fact that I was constantly beaming out a vibration of VICTIM into the Universe meant that I was constantly attracting people into my life to play the accompanying role of VICTIMIZER to my VICTIM. For me this showed up as an endless stream of low-paying, dead-end jobs with horribly abusive female bosses. We’re talking y-e-a-rs here. (I was apparently going for my Ph.D. in Misery and Suffering.)
And then one day, somehow, a little space opened up inside my brain and let in a new thought, which said…maybe…just maybe…it’s me…not them…
That was the first time it had ever occurred to me that if I was in a situation I hated, a situation that kept repeating itself in ever increasing amounts of horror, that maybe, just maybe, I needed to change something within myself, rather than something external.
I think this was a result of September 11th. Looking back now I can see that, because everything about that time was so horribly beyond anything I’d ever imagined was possible, it also opened a space where maybe, just maybe things could also be joyful beyond my imagination.
And so I finally gave my notice to that last, soul-sucking, dead-end job, and the very day I did I went to a workshop where I met my very first coach and began the process of taking responsibility for and creating my own life.
During 2003 and 2004 when I was doing A Course In Miracles (aka, “The Year Where A Giant Hand Reached Inside My Brain, Stirred Everything Up, And Then Turned It Completely Inside Out”), I learned that the woman who scribed the course had had a very similar thing occur to her. She was in a very difficult situation at work, and finally she and her boss (I think) said, “There has to be another way to do this.” And once they opened up that space, the Course was born.
According to the Course a miracle can be defined as “a shift in perception.” And that was what finally happened to me at the beginning of 2002, when I took the first steps down the path to finding my word (which I know, I know, I haven’t gotten to yet, but if I break this long epistle up then I have something to blog about next week too 🙂 )
I just caught up on your blog and want to comment on so much but i need to go fill the rice bowls. Man Jenny Ryan. I dont know what my word is. I really really dont. Its not great today. I know I belong in this house right now. Thats about it…
Hey, thanks for the comment!
Lynne Morrell says
Morning Jenny! I think my word is “groovy.” Yep! “Groovy” is my word. Might be why I continue to look around this town that we live in looking for some folks that might be groovy…and when I see a kindred spirit I think “Ok, maybe this place isn’t as weird as I thought it was.” I have felt that way since I moved from Santa Cruz, CA to Colorado. I know we should have just moved to Boulder…but, it was just too expensive and almost…too groovy. Hmmmmmmm Interesting!
Jean Browman--Cheerful Monk says
I don’t know what my word is, but I sure did like this post.
I have to say, today my word is “Shet-bag” because I am having a very, very difficult day.