I spent ten days of January, 2021 --- including my 31st birthday --- with my cousin and best friend, Cat, staying together at her parents’ house in Tennessee.
It was a hugely influential trip for me. During it, incredibly deep and painful and revelatory processing with Cat (as well as my uncle) led to the realization it was time for me to again leave behind my hometown of Cody, Wyoming and my dreams of creating divinity ranch on my family’s property there.
That it was time I take divinity ranch on the road with me wherever I went.
(It would only be later --- when I returned to Cody and divulged my decision to leave Cody to my dear friend Meredith, who was co-running the Double Doc barn with me at the time --- that, inspired by Meredith and her RV and past travels, I realized I actually wanted to live on the road and buy a van or RV of some kind. But we’ll get to that later in the storyline :)
I wrote the below piece after watching the movie Hamilton with Cat and Uncle Jimmy. It is the hugely successful Disney movie that films the hugely successful Broadway play, Hamilton. Neither Cat nor Uncle Jimmy could believe I hadn’t seen it before. (If you haven’t yet seen it, please go watch it at your earliest convenience!).
The movie had an enormous effect on me. Essentially, it depicts all the ways superstar youngster genius Alexander Hamilton, who would be instrumental in the making of the our Constitution and our country and become the first Secretary of the Treasury of the United States, seriously fucks up along the way, like seriously fucks up … I won’t give the whole storyline away, but he makes the kinds of terrible, selfish, straight up BAD decisions that result in the kinds of devastating, life-ruining consequences that could lead the average person to seriously question their worth in the world … And yet, he goes on. He fucking owns it all, reveals it all, and keeps on doing amazing things and getting his ideas and writing out there, being a leader and a (FLAWED) paragon of brilliance and love.
Here's what I took away from watching the story of someone I consider truly Great, which Greatness includes being a genuine fuck up a lot of the time.
Hamilton showed me that maybe I can be Great, too, even though I’ve fucked up and will continue to fuck up a lot along the way.
Downstairs in Uncle Jimmy and Aunt Nancy’s house, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
When they tell you you must fail to succeed, you imagine doing everything right, everything with integrity, everything without a single mal intention or mistake.
You imagine that, even in failing, everyone will be able to see how you did your best, how all along your intentions were pure, and your actions followed that.
You imagine this is a tale that shows how even when you do your best, failure still happens.
And it may.
But what about the times when you actually did your worst?
What if you made mistakes along the way --- poor decisions that hurt others, that betrayed those you love, that lied to yourself and shamed your community, your family, those who had put their lives on the line for you?
You will. You will make such mistakes. We are human, and you will.
This is the hurting from whence the healing comes.
When they tell you you will have to withstand failures in order to succeed, this also means you will have to stand as witness to the mistakes you made. Your meanness, your short sights, your lies, your short cuts, your criticisms and lack of belief in yourself and others.
You will fail. You will hurt others, sometimes with the best of intentions (and your impact is still not what you thought), and sometimes with actual "bad" intentions as you are still coming from places of hurt and blindness.
Those who stand victorious, those who help make the world a better place, those leading characters who emerge as our heroines and heroes, they do so because they are willing to keep going even in the face of their failures.
You might have imagined (as I did) these failures would only be shameful because of the results --- because of the impact --- while meanwhile everyone would know how good your intentions were, and though they may look down on you for the failure of your results, they would still hold you in high regard for the purity of your intentions.
But no. Intentions will not always be pure, either.
Those who become the heroines and heroes they have the potential to be (and we ALL have that potential), those who are willing to fail and persevere, do so because they are willing to continue even as they stand trial for the times their intentions were compromised coming to consequence before them, as the people who they hurt purposely or accidentally scream and spit and call for blood and cry and decry their worth as a human being, as a leader.
You must listen to your faults be told. This is to go through failure. To listen, to acknowledge, to stay calm and strong and in peace even as your failures parade before you. Your failures will not just be your results, but also the questionable tactics you might have employed at times. Your integrity, your intent, your impact, your ability, your worth will all be in question; there will be times when you are found failing in any area that can possibly exist.
The test is whether you can separate yourself from your failures.
The test is whether you can see and acknowledge and take accountability and help heal your failures, while never once assuming or believing that the failure IS you --- that you are a failure.
The belief that we are the failure is what stops us in our tracks, what keeps us from succeeding.
But until tonight, I thought I had to be perfect in order to not be a failure.
Until tonight, I thought failure was only okay if my intent was perfect and spotless and everyone knew and believed that. The kind of failure where I actually might have done something immoral, standing up to that is one thing, but standing up and then continuing to believe I am worthy of living? Of leading? Of creating? Of being a person worth listening to and worth loving?
I thought failures were only okay as long as I could prove my perfection and innocence along the way, even if the results were a failure.
Hear this: You are worth loving no matter what you do. You might do things that are failures, that are worth condemning, but YOU are never and can never be a failure. YOU as a human being, the essence of you, can never be condemned, for it can never be corrupted.
No matter what you do, you are forgiven, and you deserve forgiveness. In order to believe this, you must know your integrity and worth are truly never in question —- EVEN if you do things that are “immoral,” even if you act in “worthless” ways and do things that seem to degrade the worth of others.
You do not need to be perfect to be worth loving. You can do something very mean, very small, very selfish … you can be misunderstood or perhaps rightly understood in the smallness and meanness of some choices you have made … but none of this takes away your worth of being loved. You are lovable anyway, and no matter what.
How can I put this? How can I tell you? I knew things wouldn’t always, or ever, perhaps, turn out the way I thought they would, it’s just that I thought the only way I could hold my head high through my failures was if I could prove my intentions were perfect at every turn. That the only way I’d really be worth forgiving was if I could prove my own innocence --- at least inner innocence.
And usually, that exists, and the misunderstanding is the hardest part. But, because I am human, there are times when I have been far from innocent, and there still are these times, every day.
I can know in my heart I didn't mean to hurt someone, and I still hurt them. And they misjudge and mistrust my intention, and this is difficult to bear. And it’s difficult to realize I’m still worth loving and still can continue to trust in the good of my intentions.
There, that is all hard enough, but what about the times when my intention was actually “bad”? Mean, selfish, small, coming from a place desperately calling for love and seeking healing, and, instead of sitting with and releasing that, projecting that hurt, willfully and even consciously, onto another. So, here, inside, I know I cannot prove my innocence because I know I was not innocent in this misdirected, misinformed, “bad” intention.
And this is where God and the Ultimate Good comes in. This is where Grace comes in. This is where forgiveness, sinlessness, Jesus, the peace and forgiveness and love that passeth all understanding come in.
You have and are going to fail in utterly atrocious ways where you willfully hurt those you love. Life will test you in this way, will do all it must to teach you what you came here to learn: That even in the most "guilty" and "evil" things you seem to do, you willfully do, you are perfectly lovable and forgivable. You will fail at your humanity, at your living as the divine being of love and healing that you are, and you will know that you did wrong.
And yet, you will stand. You will come before yourself and before them -- whoever they are, and you will continue on, knowing you are still worthy of the destiny that called you here.
No matter what mistakes you make, you will show up and know nothing can change the perfect Love you are. Nothing can change the magnitude of your destiny; the only one who can truly stop you is YOU.
You are the one who decides what you are worthy of.
I stare at myself in the fluorescent bathroom mirror, lift my eyes to look into themselves. This body, this life, this human, this is the one I have chosen to be.
And why? What can I do?
“Write,” I said out loud. “Your word is your weapon.”
Everything has set me up for this, and yet I resist it.
Write, write, write.
I have learned to craft as a journalist. I have learned from Natalie Goldberg to then be able to integrate and utilize right brain skills to write “with the left hand.” To write with wild mind, leaving thinking mind behind.
"The key lies in writing with your left hand," the angel told me that day on the bed in Guatemala. I wrote it down with my left hand in a notebook I later threw away with all the rest.
That day, that day on the bed in the spring of 2020 in Guatemala, I was ready to be taken away. I was ready to accept my holy calling, my assignment, as if I was going to be swept away to some secret world by some undercover CIA agent.
In reality, that was the beginning of the journey that has led me to writing this, and my assignment is well under way. My "assignment" was never going to be anything different than my very own life.
"What do we have to do," the angels asked me, smiling with infinite patience that is divinity, "to simply get you to write?"
Well, here I am.
People are going to misunderstand what I write, even when my intentions are good.
Beyond that, because I am beginning to write before I am fully healed, because I am writing TO heal and thus to heal the world, I will sometimes write from places that are not fully healed and there will be mal intent, and there will be innocent intent that will have impacts that hurt to witness. My mission, my assignment, is to keep writing no matter what.
My word is my weapon. My word is my cure. These are the tools I have been given. My word is my sword and my shield, my tonic and my healing touch.
I will make mistakes, conscious and unconscious, known and unknown, and yet … What if Alexander Hamilton had not shared what he had to share? He would not have made the grievous mistakes he made, to the point where one caused the death of his own firstborn son, but he also would not have helped to create a nation that has been the sacred container that provided a nest for my birth and rearing and privilege that have given me everything allowing me to write this.
Shame and guilt are two very different things, as Brené Brown points out. It is the difference between I am a mistake (shame) and I made a mistake (guilt). It is the difference between I’m quitting and I’m giving up (shame) and I am going to keep going even if I fucked up (guilt). It is the difference between I am a fuck up (shame) and I fucked up (guilt).
Especially when I fuck up, I must keep going. Because it was so important for me to heal and be healed before, but now that I’ve continued adding to the immeasurable hurt there already was that needed to be healed, I’ve got even more of a responsibility to show up to help heal.
It will all be my response-ability, in the end. And I have the ability to respond not by crumbling, not even in the face of my most guilty accusations, of my greatest mistakes, of my greatest evil and most hurtful, even purposeful, misdeeds. I can respond by knowing I have the ability to respond with healing, whatever the hurt was. I can respond by knowing, deeply, that no matter what I did, it can be forgiven because I already am. I must be, or else how would I still be breathing? If what I did was not atrocious enough to stop my breath, this means the Life Force considers that I still ought to go on.
Go with that. Go! Keep going. As long as you are breathing, you are being forgiven: You are being given a chance to keep living, that you can work your alchemy of turning hurting into healing, of turning fear into love, of turning evil into good.
If anything has been given a chance to continue to BE, it is worth loving.
Hold your head high and know that God … Life Force … is your juror and your judge, and this One knows ALL. All the mistakes you have made have not taken your breath away, have they? You’re still here breathing, aren’t you?
Take new response-ability, and respond by knowing you are here because you can help — life has granted you that chance. Grant it to yourself. KEEP. GOING.
No matter what you’ve done or will do, no matter what mistakes you will make along the way, make it clear what you believe in, and when you make mistakes, go back and make it clearer.
For the Grace of God go you. You ARE that Grace.
Perhaps all this is best summed up by some of the lyrics from the song "Wait for It" from Hamilton:
"I am the one thing in life I can control (Wait for it, wait for it, wait for it, wait for it) I am inimitable I am an original
I'm not falling behind or running late (Wait for it, wait for it, wait for it, wait for it) I'm not standing still I am lying in wait (Wait, wait, wait)
Hamilton faces an endless uphill climb (Climb, climb, climb) He has something to prove He has nothing to lose (Lose, lose, lose, lose) Hamilton's pace is relentless He wastes no time (Time, time, time) What is it like in his shoes?
Hamilton doesn't hesitate He exhibits no restraint He takes and he takes and he takes And he keeps winning anyway He changes the game He plays and he raises the stakes
And if there's a reason He seems to thrive when so few survive, then Goddamnit I'm willing to wait for it (Wait for it) I'm willing to wait for it
Life doesn't discriminate Between the sinners and the saints It takes and it takes and it takes (And we keep living anyway) We rise (and we fall) We fall (and we break) (And we make our mistakes) And if there's a reason I'm still alive When so many have died Then I'm willin' to-
Wait for it (Wait for it, wait for it) Wait for it (Wait for it, wait for it (Wait for it, wait for it, wait for it, wait for it, wait for it) (Wait)"