From before the time I can remember, my mom raised me within a wall of ‘be careful’s.
It was born from her acknowledgement of her own clumsiness.
She wasn’t really telling *me* to be careful, but rather herself.
She’d whisper it to herself under her breath, but not low enough for her toddler to hear.
She now laughs at the memory of me walking around with my hands clasped seriously behind my back murmuring ‘be careful, be careful, be careful’ in Korean.
I laugh too, at my impressionability, at my fluid young mind grasping at what was presented before her,
building her world around what was presented to her.
Further down the line, in my teen years (so much fun! lol.), at 14 or 15, I got my heart broken and felt pain and hurt I had never experienced before.
I felt torn inside out, flipped upside down.
And I learned that being too ‘out there’, too open-hearted, too vulnerable was dangerous.
I closed up and started the healing process.
But healing is never really complete, is it?, until we are available to be wide open again, albeit wiser and integrated with our learnings.
I internalized the ‘danger’ of being brash and vulnerable and learned, this time from my personal experience, to ‘be careful’ with my heart, with love, with feelngs.
This phrase, or rather, way of being, followed me into my spiritual journey, which began around 19.
I fell headfirst into my love of God, into learning about the inner workings of me.
I also kept a eye on my ‘all-in’ness, hovering a hand lightly over the reins, not pulling or even really holding it, but just aware of it.
Letting God know, letting the universe know, letting my heart know,
I was ‘being careful’.
I was taking care of myself, protecting myself.
I was even-keeled, grounded, trustworthy.
I was responsible.
Ah, there’s the word.
I was being a good steward of my heart, my soul, my spirituality.
But time and time again, faith asked me to leap,
to jump the cliff,
to step where there appeared to be no step,
to believe in something that wasn’t visible, tangible – yet.
I struggled and wrestled my heart and my flesh, desiring to protect myself, to secure myself, to ground myself…
because wasn’t it my responsibility to feel safe and cared for?
Didn’t I need to take care of me?
Hedge my bets,
maintain the buffer between my heart and soul and the world,
be ‘real’ about how life works?
12 years later, down an initially tumultuous journey into the core of me, I’ve come to find,
‘be careful’ has no place in my vocabulary.
Sure, I use it sometimes when Soul (my partner) and I are hiking along a narrow ledge or I’m told it when I try to cut things on a tilted cutting board.
But in the matters of the heart, of the soul, it doesn’t register.
Be careful in case I forget to hold back and lean into the wind, let the river take me?
Be careful in case I forget the pain and hurt and begin to see the world in a new way, from a new place?
Be careful in case I remember how to believe in Love, Good, Truth?
Be careful in case I remember to breathe?
Be careful in case I remember how to love?
Be careful in case I remember how to live?
Be careful in case I remember how to run?
Be careful in case I remember how to feel?
Be careful in case I fall in love with life and everything in it?
Be careful in case I actually learn something from my experiences, my pitfalls, my lows?
Be careful in case I might actually feel the things that are already present within me?
Be careful in case I might actually let loose what has already been brewing?
Be careful in case I might say something that feels true to me and I might hurt the other person who I am actually not responsible for in any way?
Be careful in case I live my truth, on the edge of logic and rationality?
Be careful in case I let myself feel the absolute pleasure and joy of living fully into myself, into God, into the universe?
Be careful in case I choose myself rather than the consideration of others, what’s been my track record, what’s been expected of me?
Be careful in case I try something new that I didn’t know I loved until I tried it?
Be careful in case I try something new I thought I’d love and find out it’s lame or not as fun?
Be careful in case I actually be me?
What exactly was I trying to be careful about?
What exactly WAS there to be careful about?
I don’t mean I went taking risks and unnecessary steps in order to prove my freedom.
I mean what REALLY was I trying to protect?
Why had I thought I needed to protect myself?
Why had I thought I needed protection?
Protection from hurt?
All these things are part of life.
They are real and they happen, all the time, just like love, breath, harmony.
Why did I think sheltering myself from ‘negative’ feelings and experiences would yield a ‘better’ life?
What is a better life?
Is it one that’s quiet, still, anxious?
One in which I am subject to an idea of ‘safety’?
Or is it the one where I run and leap and skip, in full knowing that there are rocks and holes in the beautiful earth before me,
knowing that if I fall, I have the complete wherewithal to get up,
knowing that if I break or scrape myself, I have the ability to heal?
Is it the one where I believe in Love so deeply that I choose to fall into it again and again,
so truly, that I choose to feel all of it, feel all of me?
Is it the one where I choose new paths for myself, guided from my heart, which is in direct connection and conversation with my soul, which is in direct connection and conversation with God, the universe, Spirit?
Is it that one?
Because I’ve come to find, after years of journeying, that life is lived here,
in the space between the known and unknown.
And it takes a little faith, just a little, to live free.
Everything I came here to learn, to experience, to feel, to break, I have.
And I continue to choose to.
I know now, there is nothing to protect myself from.
Everything is here for me, for my growth, my evolution, my expansion.
I am here to receive it all,
And so, daily, I jump the cliff,
finding my wings again and again and again.