Before I even posted last week’s “Forgiveness Is an 11-Character Word” about one of two guide posts on the Path to Oneness, I knew that this week’s topic would be the other guide post: Trust. But my Muse sent me on quite a journey to write this post . . .
When I realized this week’s post topic was trust, my first thought was that I had ABSOLUTELY no idea what to say about it. I wasn’t even sure I knew exactly what it is, how to do it, or if a “Lone Wolf” like me even did it. So I resolved to “trust” and wait for my inner knowing to give me a clue. And immediately, several “scenes” raced by in my mind‘s eye:
- A scene from the movie “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.” To reach the cave that houses the Holy Grail, Indy’s faced with the last of three challenges: walking the “Path of God” across a bottomless chasm with no discernible bridge. After some confusion and doubt standing on the precipice, he closes his eyes and takes a big step forward and . . . steps onto solid surface. Turns out the “path” was an optical illusion—a footbridge camouflaged to look exactly like the chasm and opposite cliff, so he couldn’t see it even though it was it right in front of him.
- A scene from “The MoonQuest,” a novel.1 In Q’ntana, where the king is slaughtering storytellers, young bard Toshar leaves his small band of refugees to go on a perilous journey to restore hope to a land mired in fear. Along the way, in a “Dream, not dream,” he’s standing at a cliff’s edge when a crystalline path suddenly appears going off the edge. He gingerly steps onto it and walks and then runs until, suddenly he’s frantically running high in the sky with no road behind or ahead of him. A voice deep within urges, “Jump. Jump. Now. . . . Now, Toshar. Now.” And he does, going down and down, and gently landing on the thatched roof of a hut.
- My experience from the est “6-Day” training. The controversial and often maligned two-weekend, “transformation” est training (70’s and early 80’s) was the very first, small opening of the door to my spiritual “awareness.” I then did the est “6-Day” training with classroom lectures and activities, as well as an outdoor “ropes course.” The course included a zip line down a cable strung across a deep chasm. Standing on a tiny platform high up in a tree, looking down at the chasm and the cable, I had to take that first step off of the platform, trusting in my safety equipment. I was terrified. But I took that first step—and the ride was thrilling.
- An image of the “hand of God.” Years ago, I “channeled” for a friend. Her question involved what she should do about a particular life situation. With eyes closed, I found myself holding my hand out, palm side up and open, and saying something like “Take the first step off the cliff’s edge and God’s hand will be there for you to step onto.”
(FYI: “Channeling” is listening to your inner knowing or Higher Self—on steroids. Some channels say they talk to Archangel Michael, extraterrestrials, or whomever. I’ve never asked for a name—don’t know, don’t care. The guidance I’ve gotten is invariably loving, sometimes humorous, and always insightful and helpful. I believe it’s something we all can do—you don’t have to be a “psychic”; you just need to “remember” how. And no, I don’t get what Lottery number to play or insight about the future. That’s not the kind of info that comes through.)
After each of these four scenes raced by in my thoughts, I then quickly realized that all four had something in common: they all involve taking a “leap of faith.” Taking that first step into the unknown, believing (trusting) that you will be OK, but not knowing for sure.
Then I had the thought that if courage in any situation is described as “feeling the fear but doing it anyway,” then maybe trust can be described as “not knowing for certain but believing anyway AND taking that first step into the unknown.” It involves the vulnerability of standing in your own “not knowing” without the comfort and protection of feeling secure in the outcome—and doing it anyway. I then found myself asking, “So why do we NOT trust?”
Again, I had several thoughts in rapid succession: as children, we’re inherently trusting. We have to be—our entire existence depends on our parents or caretakers. But gradually, life beats that trust out of us. We depend on our parents for EVERYTHING (which is an impossible task for them), and they let us down. We depend on a friend, who then lets us down. We promise ourselves that tomorrow we will start a diet (or drink more water, exercise, meditate, or finish that work or home project), and then we don’t. It all chips away at our ability to trust, bit by bit.
So OK, now I had a description of trust, and why it may not be easy to do. But then I found myself asking: what does all of this have to do with trust being one of two guide posts on our Path to Oneness:
- Forgiveness—of others but especially of self
- Trust—especially in our Divinity and our inner knowing
And my Muse answered . . . uh, I got no answer. Nothing. So even before publishing the post on forgiveness, sitting on our patio (in the AZ desert with 100+ degree temperature), I had banged out the first draft of all the above text on my iPad in one sitting. And then . . . nothing. The rapid-fire “inspiration” fizzled out. I had to, once again, resolve to trust that my Muse would inspire me again. Slowly but surely, it did over the next few days:
So I had a description of trust, but you all know by now that the tech writer in me always wants the dictionary meaning so I googled it: “Firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.” And some interesting synonyms: depend on, rely on, have every confidence in.
Ah, “depend on.” I realized that as a self-described “Lone Wolf” I am usually loathe to depend on anybody because, so often, the people I depended on have let me down. So I’ve gone to “F#ck it. I’ll only depend on myself.” But I can’t even do that—look at all the times I‘ve broken my promises to myself, like in the domain of physical well being (I will lose weight, drink more water, take vitamins/supplements, meditate, etc.—and I don’t).
But then, looking at the dictionary definition again, I realized that “firm belief” in myself, my parents, or other people was probably not possible because we’re all “perfectly imperfect.” We all screw up. We all let ourselves and each other down sometimes. OK, so now what do I write about trust?? (And . . . nothing. Again, I had to trust my Muse until finally I “heard” where to go next in my writing . . .)
Just like for forgiveness, there are lots of articles about trust. (If you’re interested, google and read some.) But here, as in the forgiveness post, I’m going to write from my gut, my experience, and my spiritual beliefs. . . .
Maybe trust happens on a continuum, and in domains. At one end of the continuum are what Brene Brown calls “Marble Jar Friends” who repeatedly, marble by marble, prove their trustworthiness and can almost always be trusted. If you’re lucky, you have one such friend. At the other end of the continuum are people who have repeatedly broken promises to you—maybe we just have to accept and appreciate who they are and who they are not, and act accordingly with them.
But I think the concept of domains also comes into play here. For example, years ago a kitchen/cooking “goddess” friend of mine promised to do something that was unrelated to cooking, and important to me. She broke her promise and let me down. In a spectacular—and hurtful—fashion. I vowed to myself to never trust her again. Now that I’m “older and wiser,” I realize she was an alcoholic and probably didn’t even remember making the promise. Also now, I would realize that in the domain of cooking, I could absolutely trust her; in other domains, probably not.
So what does all of this have to do with our Path to Oneness? I think trust is critical to our connection to, our sense of Oneness with, other people. Coming from trust (on a continuum and in domains) fosters and nourishes that connection; coming from basically not trusting causes that connection to be weak, or even wither and die.
So maybe trust is not an “all or nothing” way of being. Maybe we just declare/resolve that we trust and shift into it. And when our trust is broken by someone or something, we examine the situation (in light of the continuum and domains), identify what we can learn from it, let it go, and shift back into trusting again. Maybe it’s a muscle that we just have to keep exercising up and down, forwards and backwards, and side to side.
So some suggestions for exercising the trust muscle:
* Don’t go all “black & white” duality when your trust is broken, like “I trusted Carl and he let me down; I can never trust him again. I can’t really trust and depend on anybody.”
* Do remember that family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, etc. are all “perfectly imperfect” and will sometimes let you down. Use the concepts of a trust continuum and domains: based on your experience with each person, identify who is trustworthy (and to what degree and in what domains)—not judging those who aren’t trustworthy, but rather accepting who they are, and who they are not, and then acting accordingly. And remember that nothing’s set in stone—your continuum and domains will probably shift over time.
* Do remember that you also are “perfectly imperfect.” If, for example, you set a goal—a promise to yourself—and break that promise, consider setting a smaller goal. Take “baby steps” if necessary for you to succeed and to begin to trust yourself.
* Do be careful about who/what you trust in situations involving your safety. While this ultimately involves trusting people (or not), consider relying on trust based on a mix of experience, knowledge, and judgement. For example, I trust that my car brakes will work because I have them regularly serviced by a trusted mechanic.
So that addresses trust in ourselves and other people, and concerning situations, but what about the two “biggies” my Muse noted: trusting our Divinity, and our inner knowing? (Yet again, I had to trust my Muse to come through . . . )
About trusting our Divinity: We all fall somewhere on a spiritual/religious spectrum, from those who have little or no beliefs, to those with clear and strong beliefs. This is, of course, a totally personal thing. For the former, may I suggest that you replace “Divinity” with some other term/concept that you’re comfortable with. Something like a shared Humanity “Life ‘Force’” that resides in us all (yes, as in Star Wars’ “May the Force be with you”)—an energy that connects and binds all of us together. Or some other term or concept that you’re comfortable with. For the latter, really get on a deep level of understanding that your Being, your soul, is a spark of the Divine, a piece of the Divine. And that all of our sparks join together in and with the Divine (God/Source/Light—whatever term you prefer) in Oneness. There’s no “proof” for this; it truly is a “leap of faith.”
About trusting our inner knowing: (If it’s more comfortable for you, replace “inner knowing” with “intuition” or Higher Self.) I suggest doing “leap-of-faith + action.” Your inner knowing IS speaking to you. So take the leap of faith and accept/believe that it is, and then just listen, and act on the guidance. I hear from my inner knowing all the time on such mundane things as urging me to take extra napkins for some unknown reason (and sure enough, I then do indeed spill my coffee), all the way up to insight and guidance about a pressing life issue. (Or inspiring me with blog posts!)
How interesting that writing this post involved my living a “trust journey“ from gangbusters to doldrums: repeated bursts of inspiration and information followed by . . . nothing. Until the next burst. Having so many threads of ideas with no idea of how to weave them into a coherent design—frantically moving paragraphs around, adding/deleting words and sentences. And then trusting that when ready, it would all fall into place, which it finally did (but not without a lot of frustration—and trusting—on my part!). And then a very last minute thought about blind trust. What a rollercoaster writing this post was for me! And a lesson in trust (in my Muse, my inner knowing).
So it appears that trust is a lifelong practice and an ongoing process. It’s most definitely not easy to let go of certainty and “just” trust. And then trust again. But really, what’s the alternative? Living alone on a desert island or as a hermit on a mountain top so we don’t have to trust or depend on anybody or anything? That’s not a “life well lived.” Maybe when everything is said and done, what it comes down to is . . .
“All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust.” — J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan
1 The MoonQuest (The Legend of Q’ntana), a novel by Mark David Gerson
2 Syncerity Speaks, Exact source/article inaccessible.
3 “Trust and Betrayal” an article by Steven Stosny, Ph.D on the Psychology Today website