I think my daughter knows love more than anyone else in our family.
And it’s not because she always sees it demonstrated by me, or her daddy. Maybe, just maybe, it’s the dog’s influence.
My little girl seems to love me through all of my fuck-ups. She holds steadfast, looking up at me with watery blue eyes, even after I have yelled at her, regretting the words as they leave my lips and yet powerless to stop, the aggravated language streaming out of me like so many hours and days of frustration charging forth past the dam of my parenting ideals. She makes me wonder, the instant I come unhinged, how she could possibly be the cause of my wrath.
And when I’m done, and I apologize for yelling, and I ask her if everything can be all right now, she just looks at me and nods and lets me hold her close, and minutes later is back to asking questions in her squeaky, ponderous voice.
When I am sick, or sad, vomiting or crying until my body shakes, she gently pats my cheeks and asks,
“Mommy, mommy, you okay?”
She, with only just three years to learn love and empathy, will hand me a Kleenex or a cough drop, and say,
“Mommy, I want to make you feel better.”
Once, when I was sunken deep into the couch, sad and tired and pregnant, she actually climbed the stairs, hand and knee, hand and knee, without a reassuring adult to brace herself against, and found the tattered yellow blanket from my childhood that I had given her. She dragged it downstairs and covered me up, knowing that it might shield me or warm me or comfort me in some way.
“Mommy, I love you.”
At some point, I suppose, as we age, or are hurt, or become world-weary, our love and many of our other emotions become conditional. Our partners annoy us when they are not us, and we pick away at the scabs of old wounds and frustrations just to make them bleed again. We wish we could change our loved ones – their snoring, their style, the way they love us.
We would all be more loving if we could see through imperfection the way a small child does.
The Becoming Podcast has been on a short hiatus while I focus on writing my book, but oh what a comeback episode I have for you!
This month, I spoke to Toko-pa Turner, who many of you may know as the unofficial patron saint of many of my circles and gatherings because of the sheer number of times I’ve quoted from the wisdom of her book, Belonging.
Toko-pa is a Canadian author, teacher, and dreamworker. Blending the mystical teachings of Sufism in which she was raised with a Jungian approach to dreams, she founded The Dream School in 2001, from which thousands of students have graduated. She is the author of the award-winning book, Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home, which explores the themes of exile and belonging through the lens of dreams, mythology, and nature. This book has resonated for readers worldwide, and has been translated into 10 different languages so far. Her work focuses on the relationship between psyche and nature, and how to follow our inner wisdom to meet with the social, psychological, and ecological challenges of our time.
Here’s some of what Toko-pa and I talk about in this episode:
> The dream that changed Toko-pa’s life, causing her to question her career and, ultimately, her identity
> How we can court our dreams to support us during times of radical transformation – and the reasons so many of us have a hard time remembering and working with what shows up in our dreamscape
> Toko-pa’s perspective on the message of Belonging after the divisiveness our society has experienced in the years since it was published
> What happened for both Toko-pa and I when we fell out of belonging from the ideologies of the “wellness world”
> How to build community when you’re under-resourced
> “The Big Lie” when it comes to belonging, and how we can reclaim a sense of belonging to the greater family of things, as Mary Oliver so famously wrote
Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home, Toko-pa’s book
The David Abram video about animism mentioned in the interview
Toko-pa’s self-guided program, Dream Drops
Companion, the program that accompanies Belonging
Also, while you’re at it, if you enjoy The Becoming Podcast, I would be so grateful if you would rate and review, and even subscribe to it on iTunes. That goes a long way to helping more and more people find and benefit from hearing these interviews! Thank you so much!