Early this week, I drove down to Big Sur for the record launch of the Range of Light Wilderness to support some Big Sur artists I care about. Having watched these guys work on their art for years, it felt so nice to be present as they celebrated. I was appreciating how the avenues to express creativity are so much broader now and more versatile given the increased accessibility of production technology. Fletcher can have his own label and a local band can make a record without making a deal with a giant corporation or getting a big city agent. It was also touching to see how many other people came out to support them as well and to have a chance to visit the Henry Miller Library, which is one of my favorite venues, as it has yet to be Post Ranchified.
I saw so many people who I knew in many different ways and felt connected to a larger social web – some who I knew through group, some through being at Esalen, and some through living up on Partington Ridge. It felt good to be with my current Aptos community, to visit our Big Sur roots, enjoy a Nepenthe Ambrosia burger, listen to the music under the redwoods, and see Fletcher hawk records on the back deck of the library.
It was also a pleasure to come home, because living here on the property in Aptos and working with Chris is a long-held dream. With the support of Maria and Paul and many other people, we get to make this dream a reality. I so value the opportunity to have a longer lasting community, one that isn’t as transient as a retreat center where people come for a weekend or 5 days or even 28. It’s inspiring to see people come to group week after week, month after month, and bring their real-life day-to-day feelings and experiences. I’ve watched friendships form and healing happen through community and connection.
I’m a believer in the idea that it’s never too late to begin to heal trauma, no matter how large or small, no matter how ingrained in her soul a person believes it to be, nor is it too late to develop relationships that help us celebrate what’s good in our lives. Science is with me on this – “the epigenome is life’s Etch A Sketch: Shake it hard enough, and you can wipe clean the family curse.” And even more than just family curses, it’s also about healing from routine misattunement inside the family, as well as in other relationships. I read a fabulous article recently on Atlantic.com about the importance of parents reinforcing children’s pleasant, expansive attempts to communicate so that they don’t learn that their efforts will only be taken seriously if they are distressed.
I appreciate the conclusion of the article and I’m extrapolating that looking at traumatic experiences isn’t about blaming parents but rather how those experiences are keeping us from participating fully in our lives. Being in group can be about being part of nourishing environments that help to build the skills that support us in living fulfilling lives filled with love, work, and friends. Many of you have heard me say that very often what we’re working on in group are the things that should have happened that didn’t happen and the things that happened that shouldn’t have happened. I’ll say it again – it’s not about blaming parents but recognizing what needs healing and providing an environment of support to help people cope with what has happened in the past. I remember my teacher, Dick Price, saying that sometimes what is being explored on the open seat is how what happened in the past prevents us from making use of who and what resources are available in the present. I’m grateful for our community and the opportunity to show up for each other in this inquiry.
I am leaving soon for groups in China and Japan and I’ll be posting along the way….
Photo Credit: Michal Ingber