The best story of accountability I know is from David's Whyte's tale of when he was a naturalist on the Galapogas Islands and in the middle of the night their ship slipped anchor. He barely woke in time to save the ship from smashing into deadly cliffs. His initial response was to blame the new captain for sleeping through the danger. Then he dug deeper and realized that the old captiain had been so competent that they crew had allowed themselves to be lulled to a deeper than is good for them sleep. He came to the conclusion that in order to reclaim one's inner captaincy, "even when a captain rests, he or she does it in conversation with the rhythm of the sea."
Enter me accidentally doing LSD yesterday after a special edition of play church...
on top of a mountain, where a group of us planned to hike the 10 miles back down to our village, along what is described as "the steepest trail in North Carolina." As the first wave of the drug hit me, my first response was one of distrust and wild flailing, what was going on? Why were my bones suddenly purring and where did those nine thousand new shades of green come from?
Luckily I was already on the trail and fully committed by the time the full force of the drugs hit or else I would have had more energy to freak the eff out and blame and spin and lose it. As it turned out, an extreme hike through some of the most beautiful vistas on earth is wonderfully paired with LSD, and it unlocked the positive benefits of the drug, some of which were to call into question my own accountability in different areas of my life. David Whyte describes his rude awakening into a deeper ownership of his own participation in his life, "In the moment that I had woken in a panic and seen the captain still asleep in his bunk, simple forthe sake of sheer survival I had not the time to wake him and was forced to rouse an equivalent responsibility in myself. It may be that we all come to this threshold at one time or another in our lives when suddenly the person whom we have conferred captaincy is no longer present or available."
I think accountability in life has a lot to do with a steady reclamation of our own inner captaincy. Yesterday, the drugs I was on made it literally impossible for me to do anything but really hug the real curve of my own road. Normally, I will leave my own road, frequently, to go see how others are or are not captaining their own vessel. I had a strangely relaxed feeling as the large group of hikers filtered into smaller pods, all wanting to go different paces. This made some people anxious, but I was so beautifully connected to how these profound experiences are the best things in the world for reconnecting us back to our inner captaincy. "Whenever we attempt something difficult there is always a sense that we have to wake some giant slumbering inside ourselves, some greater force as yet hidden from us." I could feel the depths of these folks, sometimes sleeping competency and empowerment and was delighted to see all the ways they were manifesting the perfect journey to rouse their connection to that strength in them.
Later that evening, as stragglers were reported missing in the dark woods, all I could see was their wild hearts open to the woods and to the enormous stretching that a proper adventure will do you. Even though they may be uncomfortable, they were being stretched to proper size and I nearly wept with the beauty of that, for them, for me. Distantly, beyond the bliss fugue, I could hear a different perspective, one where I felt wrong for not mothering all the hikers, and trying to keep a massive group together, but that felt like an old weird guilt tendency left over from childhood where I learned, wrongly, that I need to take care of everyone all the time. I had imbibed a mistaken understanding of how to be accountable and to whom.
Brene Browns describes accountability as, "Taking ownership for our behaviour, including making amends when we make mistakes" and as the day began to unfurl into one of the most extraordinary of days I realized that one of the gifts of this temporary scaffolding that the trip provided my psyche was to experience my life without blame or judgement and while managing a full accountability to my own participation. I remembered reading how often people often lose their way in the tendency to blame instead of simply holding others or our own selves accountable. I was so tsunamied by bliss that I couldn't find a drop of blame in me and to exist for an entire day without any blame was like a color blind person suddenly seeing the world in its fullest technicolor hue for the first time.
"People who blame a lot seldom have the tenacity and grit needed to hold people accountable. “Blamers spend all of our energy raging for 15 seconds and figuring out whose fault something is,” adds Brown. It’s difficult to maintain relationships when you’re a blamer, because when something goes wrong, we’re too busy making connections as quickly as we can about whose fault it is, instead of slowing down, listening, and leaving enough space for empathy to arise."
As I walked (and walked and WALKED) I'd get these flashes of simmering resentments or long range blame games I'd been playing in my own head with people in my life and I realized I was the one who was to blame for not having a more authentic experience with these people. Instead of calling up some courage and asking for something to be different I was letting the energy spiral inward into ugliness, and taking myself farther and farther from a clear and abiding relationship with my own captaincy.
This morning I woke exhausted, still a tad tripping, and with a storm refreshed fascination with my own captaincy. I can see that some of the lines on my boat are slack with blame and dishonesty. It's gonna be fun tweaking that up in my own ways. And I particularly see how often I leave my own boat to go mess with other people's journeys and then my boat just steers itself in silly circles and if there's a better place to begin taking more accountability for my own captaincy, I don't know it.
Check out the last post in this series or the next one