Wednesday, April 7, 2010


I found a thought provoking quote on the internet by Rabbi Aryeh, "Every man is in a prison of his own self.  He cannot leave by going out of the house, but only by passing through the door of the heart."

Sometimes you have to open your heart and allow someone in.   Sometimes we stare at the closed door so long, we lose track of the fact that life lies just beyond.

How many times do we find ourselves imprisoned in our own bodies?  We lock ourselves away with self-absorption and blindness trapped in a Ferris wheel spinning round and round and never getting anywhere.  Once in a while the ride stops and we step off to see what it feels like and then run back to our prison instead of 'passing through the door of our heart.'  People who do this just can't imagine what life would be like outside, they feel safer trapped inside.

I wonder if there is such a thing as 'imagination deficit disorder?" 

Those around them  - spouses, friends, family become their enablers keeping them captive for their own self centered needs. What a sad, weak and feeble existence this must be.

I say this with some authority because I have been there.  Suffering for a year with agoraphobia was horrific.  But I took one step and then another step and with each step I found myself closer to opening the door to life.  A life that wasn't controlled by fear and anxiety or others, but solely by me. There was an exuberating liberation that occured and a sweet freedom that came from shedding my fears and tears and my habit of deception and facing the realization that I am who I am, and if others don't accept that - that is their problem not mine.

A friend reacquainted me with this yesterday.  He is an honest good man with no frills attached.  He comes with no labels, no restrictions, no baggage, no hidden agenda.  He can be trusted.  And this trust begets trust and honesty from me. He too, like the rest of us,  faces the messiness of life, but he faces it with integrity, candor, openness and sincerity, and the belief that it will all work out - in time!  It is refreshing (no it is a gift,) to find a person that you instantly feel a connection to and find they feel the same.  A friendship develops and in that place and space you feel comfortable, relaxed and feel an enormous burden lifted, as you find that the greatest gift he has given you is the realization that there is nothing more wretched, dismal, and pitiable in the world than a person who is all wrapped up in himself.

As Lin Yutang says, "The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of nonessentials."  Perhaps we need to examine our lives and see who or what might just be nonessential.

I just received a phone call from a spouse of a returning soldier with severe PTSD.  She was desperate and needed help.  He has locked himself away in the apartment and won't come out. He is but one of thousands.  He is terrified all of the time. Hyper vigilance, nightmares, flashbacks are his way of life.  I understand, at least to a small degree.  As I offered multiple avenues of support, I realized that ultimately he is going to have to help himself get the assistance he needs to unlock the doors of his prison. His door is closed but his wife is holding the key to open it.  With her love and help he just might make it out of his prison.  The road to health and happiness can often be found in the quiet kindness of another.

None of us have to let history define us or happen to us or invest ourselves in it. We are for the most part free to change.  And there are those patiently waiting to help us, if only we can extend our hands.  And sometimes extending our hands and saying "yes" is the wisest most honest thing we can do for ourselves and for those we love.

For if we are asked, "Are you sure?"  And we respond, "Yes," most excellent things will begin to happen.  And that prison door we have hidden behind for so long opens and there is a garden of beauty far beyond our expectations.  Being guarded and afraid and full of anxiety and self service gets us no where.  Saying 'yes' to those people who you know you can trust can ultimately mean everything. For in saying yes to opening the door, we are saying 'yes' to life and love and all things beautiful and enduring.


"Some guard their supply of love, doling it out in portions.  But this kind of thinking works with money, not with love.  With money, the more you hoard, the richer you become.  But with love, the more you spend, the richer you become."
Richard A. Swenson, M.D.

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