“In Venice in the Middle Ages there was once a profession for a man called a codega—a fellow you hired to walk in front of you at night with a lit lantern, showing you the way, scaring off thieves and demons, bringing you confidence and protection through the dark streets.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert
Codega: Illuminator of the night. Bringer of light into dark places.
For those of us who are afraid of the dark, finding a codega seems like it would be a miracle, a blessing that would brings us confidence and courage. The monsters who lurk beyond the dark edges would be pushed back and we could walk strongly on through a path of light.
But I didn’t know about codegas until recently, and fear has been a constant companion even when seldom justified. Night, dark waters, strangers, unknown streets, crowds, lonely paths leading through unknown forests. Maybe it came from reading … things always go bad in books … or maybe it was part of my DNA, handed down from days of lions and tigers and bears … or perhaps from an angry family where I always felt alone and unsafe. I wanted a big brother to protect me, however, it’s hard for an only child to have a big brother.
Somewhere during my 20s, with a big brother-husband for protection, I began to recognize fear as my constant companion. Life offered me choices that demanded fear in payment. So, I studied courage; baby-stepped my way toward the bright baubles that lured me. Decades passed in a dance that zig-zagged toward a future that called, fear always pulling me back to a safe place before I struggled forward once again.
Eventually though, years of doing what scared me began to overpower fear. When my husband died fifteen years ago, I grew stronger about making choices in spite of niggling fears. I travelled by myself, lived in Mexico for two years, entered into and exited from relationships that weren't right, and moved often, trying on different situations. Fear was a reminder to examine situations, however, it was no longer calling the shots.
By my 70s, although I was well armed with the courage and confidence to make decisions about my life, there was one dark area that still stubbornly resisted my efforts: rejection related to my creative life: my writing and art. I’ve learned enough about art, and writing, to know that the judgment of it is subjective, with little predictability as to what will catch the public eye or what will become classic over time or fade into oblivion.
And, it shouldn’t matter because I can’t imagine life without writing or art. It’s as fundamental as food. However, both are a means of communication and sending writing or art into the world without someone receiving it, is a form of rejection. I was learning to live with this void … this rejection … imagining myself dying surrounded by a computer full of unseen art and writings and shelves of little books I’ve published for myself.
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Then I began the Gratitude Mojo journal/workbook with Lynne Snead and things began to change. Lynne, in all ways the co-creator of this work, and Barbara Gaughen-Muller became my codegas, shining their light by reading and responding to the gradually developing workbook, being actively involved in its shaping. Their insights and encouragement shone a light that let me see a brighter path. It was like the three of us were skipping down the yellow brick road.
We’ve been on this path for over a year, and what I now feel sprouting is a confidence, a sudden willingness to risk rejection, to put this work out into the world, without expectations of success or financial reward. I have confidence that this is my best possible work … and what more can the world ask of me?
I am grateful to Lynne and Barbara for being my codegas of light. I also realize that other friends have each added their own light to my journey and, without them, this would have been a long, dark, and scary path.
If you would like to see a light-hearted overview of the Gratitude Mojo Path, click here.
And, all writings about gratitude, self-awareness, and self-appreciation will appear in the new newsletter GratitudeMojo.substack.com ... it's a free newsletter and you're invited to join the conversation.