Can Tears Flow From The Outside Corner Of The Eye The Third Hand

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The Third Hand

“No man has ever seen a third hand

which originates from the center, near the heart … ”

(from the song “Mystique” by David Ignatow)

Although I don’t often write about it explicitly, a few years ago I had a life-changing experience. When I was in law school, I was severely depressed. I have since recovered, thankfully, but I have not left the gifts of that experience behind. In fact, they shape my life on a daily basis and are a constant source of inspiration, strength and wisdom.

One of the greatest gifts of this experience was that I was forced into such a dark and powerless place that I could no longer rely on my usually quite vast reserves of willpower and suction power to just soldier through the experience and the life that was very wrong for me.

One of the best ways I have to describe this experience, and one that still makes my throat tighten and my eyes fill with tears today, as if I were mourning myself from afar, was that there was a light within me, my light, which was slowly darkening, slowly suffocating. I didn’t let my soul breathe and so its flame was slowly but steadily extinguished.

I had the best of intentions, or so I thought. I longed to paint and write, but since I had no background or training in fine arts and didn’t really paint or write much at all (because I was also scared and suffocating my soul with perfectionism), I thought it was the sensible and responsible thing to do was to focus on something I was capable of and actually quite good at – finance and law. I would do that and get a job that would give me the opportunity to indulge my inner longings… on the weekends or after work.

The longer I went to law school and realized how all-consuming it was (as one of the wonderful mentors I often quoted once said, “The law is a jealous mistress.”), the more I realized that I was the true me and the stronger me, I would withdrew for a very long time. I was a decent law student with some really bright spots, but not brilliant like some people or passionate like others. I had to make up for the brilliance and passion with a lot of extra work and extra long hours (and all law students know that the minimum requirements are, at best, already impossible amounts of work and ridiculously long hours). I was quickly becoming exhausted in mind, body and spirit.

But I didn’t want to give up or give in. I didn’t want to give up. My ego was so in the way that I didn’t realize that there was actually a choice here and that I was giving up something in either direction – quit the law or quit alone. When I thought that what really called me in life could at best be pushed into corners and on the weekends, I decided on my own to quit. And since then, I’ve also come to believe that I abandoned God because I didn’t trust that the God who made me who I am—artistic, gifted communicator, intuitive, compassionate—would also provide a way for these gifts of my soul to support me my physical life in this world.

Fortunately, at this point my soul took matters into its own hands and sent me into a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual crisis from which I could not escape just by working or trying harder – which has always been my modus operandi in the past and it worked good enough. Any attempt to do so now only threw me back into the darker abysses of despair and helplessness. Trust me, I didn’t want to be depressed. It was a miserable, terrible time. I tried my best not to be depressed and I bet I convinced most of the people who only knew me from the outside back then. I tried to believe that it would be better if I just pushed through, graduated and got a job. But I didn’t convince my soul, and it was getting harder and harder to get out of bed, let alone get through a full, tiring day. And so I had to try something else.

I think this is what the poet David Ignatow had in mind when he wrote about the “third hand” in his poem “Mystique”.

“… Let it be

right or left prepare

mouthwatering food

or thing to give,

and the third hand skillfully

and invisible will change the object

of our hunger or of our giving.”

My right and left hands were doing reasonable work in the world. The world needs good lawyers. I know some and they provide great service to their customers. Lincoln was a lawyer. Gandhi was also a lawyer. I also wanted to function as a responsible adult and be able to take care of myself and contribute to my family and community.

But because I couldn’t understand, I could make it work as an artist, a writer—or a life coach, which is what I’ve secretly wanted to be ever since I read Martha Beck while I was in one of my cubicles. desperation – I thought I would take matters into my own hands. I didn’t trust my soul—or God—enough to take care of worldly details like that, and I didn’t want to be a starving wanderer. I also didn’t want to sacrifice the success I thought I would enjoy as a lawyer, and I didn’t want to lose the respect and esteem of people who always thought I would do big and great things in life – e.g. to be a lawyer or even a senator or governor.

My soul could see that my right and left hands were actually serving my ego and my fear, and so, skillfully and imperceptibly, I was thrust into a place where the choices were either to continue a life that no longer seemed worth living, or put into my true desires and deepest longings.

This practice of surrender – really trying to let go of my ideas and expectations and the desire to control the outcome – and allowing what wants to come through to come through, and then listening to it and following through, is still difficult for me. But very worth it. It’s something I do every day because I know my life comes alive, everything flows into technicolor, vibrant with richness and meaning. From this place, I know that I can give much more to the world, and it is this act of giving that satisfies even my deepest hunger.

There’s also the fact that I know all too well that if I start to ignore it, the third hand will resort to backdoor entry, mystical strikes to get my attention and get me back on track.

Painting, especially the way I’ve been painting for the past year, has been a tremendous catalyst for this practice of surrender and trust—trusting my intuition, my soul, God, and any other good and unseen forces that might conspire to help me . me, even when they seem to take many difficult, confusing and mysterious turns on the way there.

Take for example a painting I did this summer. I like to start a painting the same way I start a yoga class, coaching a client, or living my day—with prayer and intention. The day I set out to paint this particular picture, I felt very lost and alone. Although I believe that we are truly never alone and that sometimes our awareness of our interconnectedness fluctuates, it was difficult for me to move this belief from my head to my heart at the time.

I started this painting with a prayer and the intention that if something happens to someone at the end, it will make them feel that they are surrounded by love and people who valued and adored them and “had their backs”. If you’ve ever had a friend who you knew thought you hung the moon, he’d be crawling across the burning desert after your incredible, wicked self who truly saw you and got you and still loved you as much as you didn’t think you deserved it, but you sure were glad you had it… that’s the kind of presence I craved that day.

And since I also start each painting with the intention of letting go of what I think should be and just allowing what wants or needs to happen to happen, I finished my prayer, turned on the music and let it go.

Now I’m going to let all my woo-wooness be known, but here it goes (Goodbye my skeptical, conservative readers! Thanks for sticking around this long!) … I started painting, went with the flow, just started making movements and marks and really he did not withdraw until a good hour had passed. Relieved though, I stepped back, took a good look at the picture, and every hair on my body stood on end. I ran out of the room and up to my bedroom. It was late, late at night and my husband and sons were fast asleep, so I tiptoed into bed and pulled the covers over my head.

It wasn’t until it got light that I went back into the room and counted the number of figures and heads that stood out clearly from the random picture I had taken, but didn’t see until I stepped back (I think there were at least eight) . Although I admit it still freaked me out a bit, I remembered asking for a loving presence to be shown. I could tell in the light that there was nothing threatening here, but something was, and it was that physical manifestation of the usually invisible that made me so uncomfortable… even though it was exactly what I craved.

That’s good to remember. Sometimes the thing I really long for can make me very uncomfortable. Maybe I want to follow my heart, or the whispers of my soul, or the will of God… but to be honest, sometimes I’m terrified of doing that too. I think the reasons for this are multifaceted, but I suspect that often it is that we are simply not used to having such a profound power at work in our lives. It makes us feel out of control, which really means it threatens the illusions we have of safety and control.

But if you’re like me and you catch a mask that you put up to hide your true face, hiding behind the mask of who you think you should be, who you think the world has you, rest assured , while you hold dear, that third hand, the one that “proceeds from the center, near the heart,” will work – on your behalf, I truly believe – to set you free from the real one.

Live your life from the center, close to your heart…

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