Teachers appear where you least expect them, and their lessons aren’t always constructive. But we don’t always understand that – and we sometimes we give them all our power until we do. It’s taken me a long time identify the real pearls and to learn to separate them from the faux gems that were given to me by the responsible adults in my life, some who served as enlightened mentors, others who were dark and troubled and some a confusing combination of both. I have been imprinted by many, diverse and interesting people and it’s taken a lot of therapy and introspection to understand that their pain and unconscious willingness to inflict their unfinished business on me wasn’t mine to own – just part of a lesson I was destined to learn. I’ve accepted that you can forgive without forgetting and I finally understand that you can live with deep pain if understand its source and recognize where and when it rears its head in your life. I also know that shared DNA is not a free pass for someone to deserve your love. These feelings have been cooking inside for a while – but for the first time I was able to visualize them in one fleeting moment as I took an evening walk to a place, I’ve visited hundreds of times in my life. Out for exercise and to watch the sunset I sat on a rock in Dana Point Harbor watching the last seconds before the sun’s light is finally extinguished beyond the horizon … and the shadow of Catalina Island. Suddenly, in the familiar horizon I noticed a face emerge in profile, on the cliff that stood in shadowed by sunset behind it. I don’t know how I’ve never seen this face before, or why the Goddess in the Cliff chose to finally reveal herself to me, but in that instant, as the sunlight gradually dimmed, I thought about my stepfather. A complicated person with many demons. A brilliant teacher who inspired me with one hand and brought a lot of pain and darkness to my life with the other. But here’s the thing – during the chaos of my childhood –I will always remember is him inviting us to stand in our veranda, with a 180-degree view of the ocean, for a command performance to watch the sun set and those last few seconds before it dropped beyond the horizon. He’d make us pause and appreciate that moment, the beauty, the something that was bigger than all of us, and he’d say, “God is in the heavens and all is right in the world,” and for that very brief moment it was. He imprinted in me that feeling of “right” “gratitude” “pure joy” in my heart and that in the worst moments of life there is always possibility. Sunsets, moon paths and lights shining on the ocean to this day can take me away from the sad, mundane, anxious moments of life. But more importantly, he taught me there is always light in darkness – to steer towards the light to take a minute, a moment, a second to pause in “pure joy” because it exists if you are open to its embrace.
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