Forgiving Fault Lines

Forgiving Fault Lines

By: Shannon Hogan Cohen

I always pursue truth despite the discomfort it sometimes causes.  It has been fun finding the courage to own the various stages in my storyline.

Just last month, I returned from a four-generational trip to Ireland, Germany and Switzerland. This was the first time all twelve of us had travelled together. The range of personalities participating pushed both edges of the spectrum.  Ages stretched from the eldest at eighty to the youngest at fifteen.  Our time together, short as it was, taught me something about myself.  I must forgive the faults of myself and others.

As the trip took shape, many family members freely demonstrated peculiar behaviors.  They were not worried about the need to be perfect — why then must I?  Multiple times throughout the trip, we explored the picturesque peaks in Ireland and Switzerland.  My eyes were drawn to spectacular scenes of enormous piles of rock rising abruptly from the earth’s surface. My heart ached to follow their splendor into the horizon.  I sensed the wisdom of these ancient mountains speaking directly to me providing truth like a storyteller sharing insight through the telling of time-tested traditions.  The quiet environment with only the wind whispering in the mountains was the picture-perfect time to look inside.  The picturesque peaks got me thinking about my compulsion to over perfect circumstances.  It seemed like an ideal time to acknowledge my imperfect family and confront this shortcoming of mine.

My inner landscape, a metaphor for my emotional and spiritual state of being longed for introspection with each encounter.  As my mind wandered inwards, these natural surroundings provided space for meditation while silently teaching me how to stand fearless in the midst of an unreliable world and all its unforeseen elements.

There were multiple mental and emotional snapshots taken during these immediate, intense connections.  I was mesmerized by the mountains and their majestic stance while admiring all their frequent cracks and crevices.  I did not recognize it at the time, but this feeling of pure connection with unfiltered nature was apparently what I needed. I am a meaning-seeking individual, and sometimes my way of thinking against the backdrop of life’s idiosyncrasies’ cannot be explained.  “It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves,” said Edmund Hillary, a New Zealand mountaineer and explorer who became one of the first climbers to reach the summit of Mount Everest.  I must nurture myself into acknowledging and accepting my imperfect beauty while giving myself and others permission to be jagged like the awe-inspiring mountain ranges.

It has always been essential for me to take hold of my experiences.  I have an innate desire to analyze, fix, solve or attempt to make sense of them.  Over the years, this personal philosophy has tricked me into thinking flawlessness and dwelling on something too much or too long are positive attributes.  The climbing contest of “Mount Perfection” has been personal, within me.  However, my interpersonal relationships have taught me that we are all connected through our fault lines.

Many truths were revealed during our family time together.  It was remarkable how each of us unveiled various foibles, yet we managed to carry on and snicker at the “blunder of the day” during dinner each night.  It is easy to see others faults. The inability to accept disorder and imperfections in my own life has always been a deficiency of mine. During the trip, I was reading On the Move an autobiography by neuroscientist Oliver Saks.  This unconventional man sums up many of my heartfelt beliefs on what life and living are all about.  He penned the following, “I have been able to see my life as from a great altitude, as a sort of landscape, and with a deepening sense of connection of all its parts.”  Many experiences in my life continue to shed light on my insatiable thirst and desire for growth, while solving the many mysteries of me.

Ever since our trip ended, I have been reminding myself to do the best I can every day by improving upon what I learned the day before. What I have realized is that no one is faultless and there is no need to be faultless.  Seismic activity is good for my soul.

Who knew that an experience with my clan and the countryside abroad could bring me closer to myself and the mountains?  I will learn from my mistakes and welcome life’s winds and winding paths.  They will balance both my perfectionism and imperfections.  This will be my true source of interconnection – appreciating the asymmetrical landscape of my life.


Published at Life As A Human – October 2015

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