The Courage to Be Your Beautiful Self:
The Legacy of Darcy Belanger
Photo by Jeff Gerald; image by Jellyfunk
Despite very short sleep after another 22-hour day, I woke up Friday morning with more of a speaking voice. I had a phone interview scheduled first thing, and was glad I could do it.
I had already received feedback from colleagues on the live TV interview I had done the night before. They said it went very well and did not feel the pause I had was problematic. Our web administrator even reported enthusiastic email responses from people who had seen the segment and looked us up, made donations or asked to join as volunteers, while specifically complimenting the way I had spoken.
I shook my head, immediately thinking of how I drove my parents crazy in high school and university after writing exams. I was usually sure I had failed, only to discover that in fact I had gotten top marks. I considered how I hold myself to a high standard. In some ways, that had served me well. However, it also had the shadow of self-criticism, something I no longer choose to engage.
While I was seeing and feeling Darcy in the wind, in the quiet light of dawn, or hearing him whisper to make his presence known, I was changing. We each have tremendous capacity, as open as the sky and as deep as the sea. Inspired by the breadth of possibilities and catapulted by the pain of loss, I was cultivating the innate, infinite capacity for greater compassion, which always begins with self.
The image of the phoenix rising was still very much on my mind. An emblem of infinite life, power in the face of devastation and transformation regardless of circumstance, the mythical bird had long fascinated me. Even in the early days of getting to know the man who would become my husband, we playfully asked each other what animals we would choose to best describe ourselves. We both had the same answers: unicorn and phoenix. I knew I had found my soulmate.
A sense of renewed interconnection was moving through my heart and mind when I dialed into the morning interview. To the reporter’s first question, “How are you today?”, I answered honestly: “I am well, thank you.” Discovering the phoenix booklet had given me strength.
When I asked her the same, for a moment I saw the world through her eyes. She was flustered and agitated by the work on her desk stemming from the shootings in New Zealand. She expressed how the event was adding stress to her life, almost as though she sought my condolences. I paused. Here she was, speaking with someone grieving the loss of a dear friend and colleague in a tragic accident, and she seemed to be complaining that the horror of the shooting was inconveniencing her. I was reminded how I was stepping again into the media circus that had an agenda different from my own. Where she was perhaps more interested in her quota, I sought to communicate truth. I answered her questions carefully and kept on point.
After the call, I directed other portfolios at Parvati.org and ensured that we were organizing youth more officially for MAPS. This had come to me during my morning meditation, as insights for our work often do.
Throughout the day of interviews and directing, my thoughts hovered around the miracle of the paper brochure at the crash site. I considered the message not only that it carried, but that it now told the world. I remembered how the first inklings of MAPS began through my recurring dream of a great blue whale, summoning me to the North Pole. In the wreckage and chaos of our lives, MAPS, as a call from Nature Herself, was illuminating the path forward for our very survival.
We have tried to confine, define and contain Nature. But Her strength, and the will of the Divine of which She is a part, will always be so much greater than our limited ego. We need to learn to live in harmony with Her, if we wish to remain living upon Her body. The message of MAPS could not be buried in the rubble, because truth is an unstoppable voice that will always rise to be seen and heard. Nature would make sure of it.
I was also aware that I needed to inquire more deeply into why I had lost my voice. Though it was better this day, it was still by no means healthy. What were Nature and my soul teaching me? Had I learned the lessons?
A close friend once gave my shadow the nickname “Givey-Givey” because I have a tendency to take care of others to a fault. Yes, it is an honour to serve and it is a gift to give. There is no doubt that we gain immeasurably in doing so. But I may at times tend to others as a way to avoid sharing of myself. This past week was highlighting this for me. If giving eclipses my own health, basic needs and soul alignment, it is not giving, but hiding, a deflection of honesty. Then, it is not in harmony with Nature. I realized I had to watch for this shadow more closely.
I wondered what true equanimity would have looked like within the intensity of the days I had been living. How could I have found the depth of presence within utter chaos?
My thoughts returned to how I kept hearing Darcy suggest I be my most beautiful self. Had I been? What would that even have looked like?
I considered who I would be if I dropped the givey-givey forever and allowed myself to be utterly vulnerable. Would I not meet the essence of the universe itself, where there was nothing but raw, naked power? In such transparent honesty there could only be perfect equanimity.
I have experienced moments, even periods in my life, where I felt in complete harmony within the whole. But how could courageous, even balanced, presence exist in the wake of death itself?
I had been at the head of a comet this past week, hurtling through life at immeasurable speed as my former self burned away. The shattering news of Darcy’s death had propelled me into a deeper understanding of who I am and how I move through the world to honour the truth I serve. I was learning a subtler balance between respecting my inner self and my external responsibilities, while remaining rooted, vital and expansive.
The fullness of the teaching was not yet completely clear, but was coming into greater focus. It was apparent that while I was busy making sure others were heard, I had silenced myself. Yet in presence, there was room for it all – the painful, the beautiful and the victorious.
Now it was for me to deepen my practice of total trust that I was always held lovingly within a perfect whole. I realized in a flash that I had come full circle. This teaching had been at the core of healing from my spinal injury, which had happened on March 11, 2011, almost eight years to the day that Darcy died. Both of these traumas would forever change the way I live, think and speak.
Through my years of spiritual practice, I had been seeing my heart as God’s living room, asking the Divine to rest there. But now I was understanding that if open, the voice would become a conduit for Divine will.
Just as I am dedicated to daily meditation, I needed to receive the blessings that the voice had to offer. It had the capacity to mediate, as angels do, between heaven and Earth, and invoke heaven on Earth. Like a temple that needed mindful tending, it was for me to honour with greater reverence, as a gift from Nature Herself. It was my ally and teacher, keeping me honest, on path, and in harmony with the whole. It was asking me to attune to it and my place in the world in a new way.