NO MUD NO LOTUS, BY MELANIE STRUBLE, BIB CO-FOUNDER, PSYCHOTHERAPIST
Tattooed upon my right shoulder are the words, “NO MUD NO LOTUS,” a powerful reminder, for me, that in the heaviness of life the most beautiful of gifts can appear. Pain, heartache, and struggle are inevitable. It is a part of the design of life, part of the patchwork of how the world was created. However, how we perceive its existence is up to us. Are we someone who sees only the dark in an experience, or are we able to search for, with great perseverance, the light? When my heart is aching, when I am uncertain, confused, angry, sad…virtually any emotion that doesn’t put an immediate smile upon my face, I call upon my mantra, the one I repeat constantly, the one permanently marked upon my shoulder.
The lotus flower grows upon the swamp. It not only grows but lives and survives there as well. It spends its existence being nurtured by its home. It finds peace and tranquility upon what some may consider pretty murky waters.
How do we live like the lotus? How do we make sense of the experiences of our lives, and find peace and balance within them? When our hearts and souls ache, how do we make sense, taking uncertainty and pain and finding the gifts? How do we live our lives finding the peace and tranquility that the lotus finds in its surroundings?
I think it’s important to first explain a gift. A gift doesn’t mean that we are thrilled that the experience happened. It doesn’t mean that we are jumping for joy that our heart hurts. A gift is exactly what we make it, where the experience leads us… without judgment. No gift is to small to be noticed or appreciated if we can leave our mind and heart open to looking for and seeing them. And they don’t always come instantly. Waiting happens.
I have received gifts like learning about the concept of gratitude, more compassion, and trying not to take things for granted. Silence, realizing I don’t have to know and it’s ok, letting myself feel, helping others, letting others help me, giving back, receiving, standing up again when I have fallen down, crying or screaming out loud and it feeling great, and the gift of being open to the fact that even in the heaviness of life a smile, a laugh, or a kind heart are never too far away.
Much like the lotus flower calls the swamp its home and finds peace upon the murky waters, so too can we find gifts from life experiences and pain. That may feel completely impossible at times, especially when our heart and soul is aching. Who wants to consider that our heart ache is a stepping stone toward some future gift? But for me, staying present, in the now, and letting myself feel my feelings and work through the experience without critique or judgment keeps my heart open and the possibility for recognition of the gift or even gifts to come.