Hi Ian, as a long time appreciator of your work, it was quite a surprise to see parts of my blog post about your friend Michael’s death quoted in your own beautiful, insightful article.
I was not being glib when I wrote “It is incumbent upon all of us, teachers, students, people, to strip away the layers of shame that have been imposed upon us, so that bright, sacred, precious lives may be saved. I implore you. Let yourselves be seen. Seek help when you need it”.
You are right of course. There is undoubtedly “…peril that comes from revealing in a culture that has little capacity to hold others’ vulnerability.”
But in every hero’s journey there is great peril. Each time someone like you, or anyone else in the public eye, is brave enough to allow themselves to be seen so transparently; however extreme the backlash may be, you are trailblazing the way for ordinary folk without a voice to step forward and be seen. Yes, I agree that our warped, morally contemptuous, vapid, one-size-fits-all society does not make it safe to do so…but lets face it, safety is somewhat of an illusion.
Truth is our birthright and dare I say, it is our responsibility to be real, to free ourselves from the confines of cultural tyranny and revel in the paradox of our unique uniformity. Having attended workshops with both Stephen Jenkinson and Charles Eisenstein, I wholeheartedly agree that we need the holding space of the circle or village.
But which comes first the chicken or the egg? My personal experience demonstrated that my courage had to come first: the village sprung up around me later in the form of digital connections who subsequently became flesh and blood, chosen family.
You asked “What happens when any of them dare speak what’s actually in their hearts?” And I can fully understand why this question is so close to the bone for you. I read your profoundly moving piece on the end of your marriage, and watched with a kind of fascinated, yet all too familiar horror as the vipers descended from their morally superior nests. I commended you for your courage and winced at the asinine backlash your bravery provoked, not to mention the pain this must have caused both you and your ex-wife.
Yes…our culture fails us in myriad ways, day after day. But the epic sea change that is necessary to move us forward into a new paradigm is not going to come about by hiding. From the small, shaky place inside where we choose to tell our story, new worlds are born. Our own eyes miraculously open to the truth that we are not our shame, our fears, our addictions, nor our guilt, or the internalized ghosts of childhood conditioning.
I also wrote in my piece “I want my teachers to be real, relatable and raw. Jagged even. It helps me avoid the psychological pitfalls of infantilising myself or ignoring my sovereignty, and ensures I check myself when judgment arises over ‘this way’ being better or more spiritual than ‘that way’.”
The authenticity of your writing serves me, and no doubt countless others in this way. The forfeit of your privacy and apparent ‘safety’ yields gifts that you most likely will never get to hear about. And I honour the sacrifice all the more for it. We, your readers, are your village. Alas, the village also contains the occasional idiot.
I read this yesterday “the only thing worth doing with our lives is dedicating ourselves to the alleviation of suffering. There is nothing else”. Michael Stone was way ahead of the game in this regard than most. For me, apart from the obvious tragedy of his death, I am saddened to ponder the many more lives he would have touched, the suffering that could have been alleviated by virtue of the knowledge of his condition and fallibility, whilst he contributed so much to our world.
Thank you Ian for quoting from my post and for allowing me the space to respond. Blessings to you.