A couple of months ago I went for an appointment in a neighbouring town. I parked in the car park of a supermarket which allows a two-hour stay and did some shopping there before heading to my appointment. My appointment both started and ran a little late and by the time I got back to the car, it had been just over two and a half hours. (Two hours and forty one minutes, I would later find out.) I thought nothing of it and went on with my day.
A couple of weeks later I received a letter in the post. The envelope read, in large capital letters:
THIS IS NOT A CIRCULAR. DO NOT IGNORE.
Opening the letter, a wave of feeling that I couldn’t quite place washed over me. Listed in the top right corner was a reference number, followed by my car details – the make, model and registration. Beneath that was a big black box with black and white stripes to one side, calling attention to the text inside which, in even bigger white capital letters read:
PARKING CHARGE AMOUNT: £70.00
Payment to be made within 28 days of date issued: 17/03/2018
This parking charge is discounted to £40.00 if paid within 14 days of the date issued: 03/03/2018
After this date, the full parking charge amount will be owed.
As my eyes scanned the rest of the page, I felt a sickness inside at the two photos of my car that had been captured by the ‘parking eye’, an enlargement of my vehicle registration included beneath each photo, just in case I was in any doubt that this was, indeed, my car.
Something inside me burst and I stood at my kitchen counter and cried a while. I returned to my young teenage self and those occasions at school when a teacher had scolded me for talking to a neighbour. And because I always tried to be absolutely good and never purposely did anything ‘wrong’, these moments horrified me and I always shrank back under a heavy weight of guilt and shame. I remember feeling very hurt inside at being, as I saw it, misunderstood so deeply.
The letter came the day after I’d been speaking with a friend of mine who’d been telling me a story about her father. He’d received an aggressive letter from the council telling him he had to change his front door by X date because it didn’t conform with some safety standard. He’d called his daughter, my friend, in a panic. He didn’t understand the letter and was in a state about what was going to happen to him if he didn’t get it sorted in time.
My friend shared her disgust with me at the language in the letter, designed to instill fear and have him act without delay.
We are in such deep pain
When I cried in my kitchen that day, I cried first for the little girl who felt she was being scolded all over again, despite her every attempt to be ‘good’ and kind, and then I cried as a vessel for all the world’s pain. We are all that vessel. Whether we know it consciously or not, we are each and every one of us carrying the pain of the world within us.
It is easy for me to get angry about situations such as these and these are just two examples of many that are coming to mind now. It is easy for me to turn my hate towards these companies and organisations who send out letters designed to bring a sense of fear and urgency to the recipient. But when I go beneath the anger, I always find this profound pain.
With a collective consciousness rooted in fear, scarcity, and separation, it can seem that there’s no other choice but to be this way in the world. From the point of view of separation, where I’m a separate self in a world full of other separate selves, this way of being makes perfect sense. How can we throw about blame when the behaviour comes from a deep, yet innocent misunderstanding about the world and who we really are.
What can we do?
I certainly have no ultimate answers for these deep questions, but I do have a sense of what feels true in my heart. Here are a few of the things that feel true to me that have arisen out of this experience and other, similar experiences.
Allow and acknowledge the pain
When this pain of the world bubbles to the surface, try not to push it back down. See if you can make some space just to be with it, explore it and find out what it is. Acknowledge its presence and remain curious. Allow any feelings you have to surface. Do not tell yourself that any of your feelings are wrong. Acknowledging and giving space to pain is a portal to transformation.
Take every opportunity to break the illusion of fear
You may have seen the post I shared last week about how my local bakery let me leave without paying because they didn’t have change for my note. Instead, they just said I could pay next time I was in, not wanting to even take down my details.
Whilst it seems like such a tiny thing, actions like this go a long way to disrupt the lens of fear through which so many see the world. Every time we do anything that says “I trust you”, we help lift the veil of fear, revealing the truth of love beneath.
You don’t need to strategise your actions or think about it too deeply. I firmly believe that your heart sends you nudges each and every day or sometimes even presents you with blatant opportunities to close the space between us. Your work is to bring more and more awareness to those nudges and opportunities and have the courage to act on them.
Know that your part is needed
I have long felt now that ultimately we each have the same purpose in this life – to know and express the love that we are in service of the whole. That love is expressed in radically different ways according to our unique gifts and talents.
Do not be tempted into thinking or feeling that you have nothing of value to offer or that you have no way of making a positive difference in this world. You do. We all do. The actions we take will come in every shape and size, as they should. What they will have in common is that their purpose is to wake ourselves and one another up to the deep truth of who we are.
You have a beautiful and unique collection of gifts, talents and way of being in the world. This collection is perfectly suited for your path and the part you’re here to play. And don’t forget that it’s ok if your gifts and talents don’t seem obvious to you right now, or you don’t know how you can use them. We are all on an ever unfolding path. Patience and a willingness to keep going where we’re guided is key.
Seek out opportunities for constructive conversation
It feels very important to seek out and open up spaces where we can openly share and discuss our collective pain. It is important for us to hear one another and to know that we are not alone in what we are thinking and feeling.
Talking and sharing helps us grow in strength as we move forward on our individual and collective paths. It helps us to remind ourselves and one another that what we are feeling and experiencing isn’t silly or just some passing thing, but rather something very deep and true that is calling for our attention.
In essence, we are being called into our true roles in the world and yet stepping into those roles can feel almost impossible. Together we can help one another follow our guidance and play the parts we’re here to play.
Love and courage,