I am a FlameKeeper, and that means I believe that everything is Divine – you, me, the tree, the rock, and my left shoe (especially my left shoe!). I believe that I have a Dark Flame – the essential spark that makes me ME – and a Bright Flame – the side of me that interacts with others. I believe that both my flames need to be nurtured and encouraged to burn and grow that I might improve and, by so doing, improve the Universe.
In addition to believing these things, I do work associated with them. I care for myself, that my Dark Flame burn more brightly. I act in the world through in a variety of ways – charitable giving, care for my friends, adhering to Shopping Cart Theology – that my Bright Flame be able to grow. In addition, I try to remain polite and helpful (when appropriate) to strangers, go out of my way to find garbage cans and/or recycling bins rather than dump my trash along the side of a road while driving and, generally, try not to be a dick.
(As an aside, I’m quite fond of “Don’t be a dick” as a life skill.)
I can, usually, tell how I’m doing in my FlameKeeping-specific work (although there’s a lot of overlap between it and my Kemetic work…but I digress again) on my own, but sometimes I need others to take a look at my stuff and tell me how I’m doing. This happens especially when I am low on spoons and have to break things down into smaller baby steps than usual. For example, I’ve had an exhausting week – travel home from Paganicon on Monday, therapy and work on Tuesday, work on Wednesday and Thursday – and so today I am sitting here, writing in my PJs at 1:35 PM with hair in a ponytail and none of my dailies done…and if I cannot get a wind of any kind, I may have to pick out one or two to get done and say fuck it to everything else. The times I have to say “Fuck it” are the times that I need reassurance of some kind that I am not allowing the Universe to fall apart simply because I have a day where I cannot get my shit together.
I know, logically, that one day (or even one week) of “Meh” is not going to cause things to explode…but it feels wrong, and so I turn to my religious community for the same feedback I’ve been know to give to others having similar issues. And, I’m told that even getting one thing done is more progress than doing nothing…and that the one thing can be as simple as taking my empty coffee mug to the sink when I next go downstairs. Gee, where have I heard this kind of thing before?
I am one of those people for whom it is easier to give advice and encouragement than to take it, which makes my life an interesting set of contradictions. So this post is really meant to remind me (and others) that the feedback I need can come from others, or it can come from myself. I can give myself feedback and encouragement and it is as meaningful as that which comes from outside.
It’s not wrong to want or need outside feedback; we all crave, at some point, someone else to notice what we do and commend us, or commiserate with us when things aren’t going the way we want them to. Learning to do it ourselves for ourselves, though…that’s worth patting ourselves on the back over, because it means we recognize that we have worth in our own eyes and can therefore measure our own actions and decide objectively whether they measure up or not.
Freeing, isn’t it?