What We’re Really Scared Of, Episode 108

We need to draw the people we love nearer, smell their hair, enjoy them, drink them in. We need to let our hearts burst open with all the love. And experience the simplicity and sacredness of things. Even if we can only do it for one moment a day. It’s the hard way but it’s the only way. A conversation about vulnerability, and how love and grief are inevitable partners, with Lizzie Winn and Justin Wise of Thirdspace.

This is Turning Towards Life, a weekly live 30 minute conversation hosted by Thirdspace in which Justin Wise and Lizzie Winn dive deep into big questions of human living. Find us on FaceBook to watch live and join in the lively conversation on this episode. We’re also on YouTube, and as a podcast on Apple, Google and Spotify.

The source that starts our conversation off this week is ‘What we’re really scared of: the love, beauty and sacredness of it all‘ by Hollie Holden.

What we’re really scared of: the love, beauty and sacredness of it all

This is one of those times where I just know I am not going to be able to do full justice to all the feelings, thoughts, sensations and openings going on inside and around me at the moment. But I am going to give it a go.

For the last couple of days, I have been comforting my sister, whose dear friend Christy Svanemyr was killed in Holly Park in San Francisco this week.Everything about her passing has affected me very deeply. The bare facts are that she was sunbathing in the park with her 11-month-old daughter and their beloved dog. A maintenance van took a shortcut through the grass and hit her so hard that she was pronounced dead by the time she arrived at the hospital.

She was the same age as me and living and parenting in a very similar way. We would have been friends had we lived in the same city.What has touched me so deeply is Christy’s openness and vulnerability in how she loved. And, honestly, the way she died is a playing-out of one of my deepest fears, which is now surfacing more fully – of leaving behind the people I love, especially my children.

And, honestly, it could happen to any of us at any moment. Such is the brutal nature of being in the world with attachments to others. And attached I am these days.

This morning the three of us went to a café to draw pictures and read the newspaper. We had the sweetest time and I spent most of it breathing through the urge to sob uncontrollably at the beauty of Bo’s legs swinging in her wellington boots, her tongue curled in concentration as she drew a ballet dancer. And the hairs on Christopher’s head that like to live independently of all the others and stick straight up in the air. Every bit of them is so alive and so precious and I realised that, when I sit still for a while and take in all the preciousness, it is hard to breathe.

This is why I get grumpy and distracted and busy. This is why I avoid such deep vulnerability at all costs. It’s why we all do.
Because to sit still and drink in the love and sweetness that surrounds us – and to let our hearts really burst with it – is terrifying.
It’s why people eat junk food. And watch tv. And get addicted to alcohol, drugs, sugar, shopping. It’s what we are all so busy trying to avoid.

And Christy’s story – the story that is still unfolding in the hearts of all her family, her tiny daughter, her husband and all those who love her – has plugged me back into my heart so fully. It has blown me wide open.

We need to draw the people we love nearer, smell their hair, enjoy them, drink them in. We need to let our hearts burst open with all the love. And experience the simplicity and sacredness of things. Even if we can only do it for one moment a day.It’s the hard way but it’s the only way.

I feel that is what Christy has taught me and I wanted to pass that on. I hope I have got close to doing it even the tiniest bit of justice here.

Hollie Holden