Volcanoes, Fucking Up, and The Mirror: A Meditation on Conflict

I watched a volcano erupt today. Piping lava and scorched rock exploded into the air, so white-hot and unpredictably fiery I had to look away. I’m pretty sure I copped some in the eye. (I was not blinded, thank you for asking.)

I felt its heat, and I was peppered with rocky shrapnel, and damn, was it hot.

(Did I mention it was hot?)

No, I am not on an exotic explosive Indonesian island (thanks COVID, you restriction-instigating holiday-ruining bastard.)

Yes, this is a metaphor.

I watched beloved friends, long time friends, navigate difficult emotions. Wading through pain, through betrayal, through trust and understanding and forgiveness.

Life. Sometimes we do things and we don’t consider other people. Or we consider them, but we think, ‘fuck it’ and we transgress anyway. This is a part of growing and evolving into a considered human being.

Sometimes we tell ourselves stories, and we justify our actions, and we make excuses so we can feel better about what we’ve done, or justified in what we haven’t done.

But the joke is on the person who tells themselves these stories, because it doesn’t make you better, or right, and it most certainly doesn’t make you lighter.

I spent my twenties fucking up and hiding from my truth, and I’ve spent what has passed of my thirties fucking up and kneeling for forgiveness. (Yes, I’m a slow learner, thank you for pointing that out.)

And from the learnings of my journey, what I can offer you, dear sweet reader, is this:

Damn, hot damn, does kneeling for forgiveness feel true and right

every.

single.

time.

Regardless of how you are greeted by the receiver.

Absolutely no exceptions.

Hiding in the dark with your own bullshit does nothing for anyone.

It might feel ‘easy’ at the time –

(Damn it, I am right and this is why!)

– but the guilt will follow you. The all-knowing will follow you. Your inner voice will follow you. The dark will follow you and it will weigh you down. This is inescapable.

I can remember a time when I felt the cutting, searing pain of a friend’s betrayal. So unfair. So unexpected. So blatantly wrong! How dare they!

And we sat face-to-face and I attended with absolute humility and grace and I was met with… nothing.

Silence.

I poured my heart out, clean and true and as honest and bared as a baby lamb, and I received the pouty face and downcast eyes of an insolent child.

I was righteous. White-hot righteous. Braveheart face-paint how-fucking-dare-you righteous.

Sitting and observing a similar scene this day, I now knew. I saw. I understood.

No one is wrong.

No one is right.

What may seem clear and true for you may be muddied in shadow for them.

What is muddied in shadow for you may be clear and true for them.

What can we do?

When we are angry, when we are licked with fire, the flames are almost always fuelled by a deep hurt.

When the wounded lover lashes out, slashes the tyres, burns the belongings, vents to a radio station (it’s not defamation if it’s TRUE JAKE OF 2007), what is fuelling that fire?

It is the wound, gashed and bloody, begging to be balmed.

We will make mistakes. This is unavoidable. One can deny their mistake, one can explain their mistake, one can hide from their truth, but my dear precious soul, you will never feel as right and true and on your destined path of holy greatness as when you own your truth, with all the fibre of your being.

Conversely, when we are hurt, when we feel that brutal pain, we must ask ourselves: what is this feeling showing us, revealing to us about ourselves? What behaviours and wounds and shadows is this unveiling to me? Why does this ache so, emanating from a place I didn’t even know existed, a place deep and dark?

Why am I

so.

fucking.


angry?

What is this situation teaching me about my own shadow, my own failings, my own past, my own journey, my own choices?

We can not control any of what happens around us, to us. While we can set healthy boundaries, and choose wisely and with consideration the souls we share this journey of life with, we do not get to dictate or demand how people will treat us.

All we can control is how we respond to what is presented to us, what happens to us, what hurts us, what wounds us.

Embodying this truth is the most freed we will ever feel.

To see each and every challenging moment, every transgression, from the minor to the monumental as a chance for self-reflection, is to be ever-evolving, ever-growing, ever improving.

You are not a victim; you are not the betrayed or the wronged.

Here are two infinite, undilutable truths:

1. Everyone is doing their absolute best at any given moment;

and
2. This is not about you.

Recognise your shadow. Greet your shadow. Embrace your shadow. Interrogate your shadow. Chip away at your shadow. When anger, betrayal, jealousy, hate, rage, greed, pride, grief and ego rear their heads to greet you, demanding your immediate and absolute attention, acknowledge them, and interrogate them: know their fuels and their sources.

You do not choose what happens to you.

BUT: the choice to act, and if you choose to act – how you act – in response to what happens to you, is always yours. This is your gift from the divine.

And when you choose to walk the path of owning your shadow, trust me, dear reader, the light will follow you.

You are always the viewer looking into the mirror, and you are always seeing yourself, shadow and all, clear and true.

What you do when presented with your reflection is wholly up to you.

From a place of love and grace,

April

April Chaplin is a past guest and resident of Kailash, and also a professional copywriter and editor, you can find April on LinkedIn.

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