Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.” -Pema Chodron
I love painting pictures with my words. It starts when I’m trying to figure something out. I visualize what I’m thinking in an animated or metaphoric way that helps me make sense of it. So, what is my carpet bag of baggage?
It’s a rug big enough to fit all the stuff I’ve collect along the various journeys of my-life. It’s an ugly carpet, full of untruths, most of them having to do with my self-esteem. It’s all tied together with the black rope of fear. I’m so used to carrying it around that I don’t even feel how much it’s weighing me down most of the time. It’s in those moments when I’m paying attention to life that it falls off my shoulder. It’s a wonderful feeling as if I’ve sucked in some helium and I’m floating right above the ground. And I wonder why it can’t be like this all the time.
When the black rope of fear sees me happy it starts to untie itself around the carpet. Moving like a snake. Fear knows I’m afraid of snakes. It’s the way it gets my attention. As the carpet bag begins to slowly open all the dreadful demeaning voices jump around shouting me, me, me pick me. All it takes is for me to believe one demeaning thought of worthiness, and I’ll find myself standing upon the rug that fear uses, to pull the joy right out from under me.
But I’m seeing a little clearer now. They say, you have to see what needs changed, before you can change it. As the quote says about, “nothing goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.” I’m learning one thing for sure, that as big as fear looks, what lies on the other side of it is majestic.
I have to say that being in my 60’s feels like another coming of age experience. Oh, I know there’s lots of aches and pains. Things I can no longer do, but something within is changing on a deeper level. The term coming of age is often used as we go from the teen years into adulthood. But what do we really know at that age. It’s really only the beginning of experiencing life. What it has to teach us. Who we want to be. What we want to do. I remember when I turned 40 feeling like it was another coming of age experience. It was the beginning of truly getting to know, accept and like myself for who I was. I road into my 50’s with a little more confidence and understanding that it isn’t all about me, but about who I am in connection to something much bigger then myself, my religion and my calling. Now that I’ve been in my 60’s I feel lighter in many ways definitely freer. I sense this new coming of age is melding me together both body, mind and soul. This longing I have to simple “be” …it’s my soul calling to me.
Today as I begin my meditation I’m giving a quote by Albert Einstin to ponder, “There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.”
A few weeks ago a friend read a quote to me by Napoleon Hill, “In your search for the secret of the method, do not look for a miracle, because you will not find it. You will find only the eternal laws of nature.”
I realized that sometimes I get so caught up in how to make the miracles in my life happen that I actually miss the miricles there are to see. I think to myself often that I know how to do what I need to in order to get from here to there. However, in the process of doing things the way I think I should, I miss out on all there is to see in between where the miricles actually exist.
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“The sun, without intent or will or plan or sense of principle, just shines, thoroughly and constantly. By being itself, the sun warms with its light, never withholding or warming only certain things of Earth. Rather, the sun emanates in all directions all the time, and things grow. In the same way, when we are authentic, expressing our warmth and light in all directions, we cause things around us to grow.” -Mark Nepo *
Lately I’ve been reading a lot about being authentic. Being human we’re much more complicated than the sun and the flowers. They are what they were created to be without wondering what they have to offer. They simple do what they do best. The very question of authenticity takes us outside ourselves looking in comparison at others. Thinking I’ll never be as good as so and so, all the while missing out on who we are and what we have to offer the world. How can I shine my light on others? How can I be the expression of Love in which I come from? How can I wrap that warmth around others and help them grow? The sun and the flower show us by example and in their nonverbal language tell us…just be.
How? By looking within and recognizing what makes you feel the most alive when you’re doing it. Maybe you enjoy singing, playing an instrument, cooking, gardening, making crafty things, giving massages, doing Reiki, or writing, just to name a few. Anything we love to do can be used to warm someone’s else’s heart, light their day and help them grow into their own authentic self just by being who we are. There’s nothing more affective then showing rather than telling just as Mark Nepo’s does with his beautiful metaphoric writing about the sun and its intent. I wonder, can you see the picture he draws with his words?
*A Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo March 30 reading
“The sailor cannot see the north, but knows the needle can.” -Emily Dickinson
As I begin my day I’m always so excited to be at the start of what I call a clean slate. Maybe a little too excited that I begin to paint what I cannot see yet. As I stand back to look at my canvas I’ve painted nothing but clouds because I haven’t taken the time to see in what direction my inner compass is pointing. How does the needle know? How do we even trust what can’t be seen? When we are lost, what other choose do we have? I can wonder around the sea of life without anything in sight to paint upon my canvas or I can let go and choose to trust in the stillness of the moment in which the needle has time to settle.
It is then that I’m able to connect with my inner spiritual guide as I hear it tell me this morning to take my time. Slow down. Wakeup. Be in the moment. Look around. Smell the candle you lit. Taste the coffee you drink. Feel the chair that hugs your body. Hear the ticking of the clock. These are my inner compasses. My inner tools. My inner senses. They are the colors and brush strokes I use to paint upon the canvas of my day.
Now I’m really excited to be alive. How can I not be when I’m reminded that I can enjoy wherever I am with every fiber of my being simple by bringing myself back into the awareness of where I find myself right now. It sounds so easy but that’s the beauty our free will gives us, to choose the kind of day we want moment by moment.
Today the first words I write in my journal is a chant from the 60’s. “The whole world is watching.” I don’t think I must explain why with all the confusion and unrest in our county right now many of us are caught in the anxiety it’s created. But what is it about this chant that feels so familiar? “I’ll google it,” I say to myself. This being one of the things I like most about the instant information we have at our finger tips.
I’m taken back to a time in my life that was full of unrest between people’s feelings, rights and beliefs. While its true we’ve come a long way baby, we’re still dealing with the same issues today only on a different level of understanding or should I say misunderstanding.
Hum! I hear the words of my Dad echoing back to me from a far, “history has a habit of repeating itself Connie.”
As I ponder the thought of this repeated history I realize it’s bigger than any one person. It’s an accumulation of all of us. But I also see the correlation to my own repeated struggles. How they come back to haunt me, wearing a different disguise, and always playing out under a different scenario. Eventually I come to see the similarities, and the lesson that it holds within it. I ask myself at this point what is it that I need to change within myself to see what this lessons has to offer me. I know that none of us likes to think that we are a part of the problem, but if we hold onto anger, frustration and discontent we add to the ball of fire it creates. It’s not anyone else fault what we feel or choose to experience. Whatever goes on inside of us that isn’t already a part of who we are, enters in from the outside. It’s the people we associate with, the things we read, what we watch on TV, and stream of information that’s at our finger tips. It’s the faith we practice and political stance we follow. Wherever our thoughts are is where we’ll find ourselves.
So, what have I learned from the chant that was playing in my head? What was it trying to tell me about myself? I realize that I’m one tiny being among the many, but the whole world is still watching. The whole world is still affected by whatever I add or take from it. So if I want to see a change in world for the better good of all human kind, than I must be the change I want to see first.
“The Sea of Life”
With my limited mobility, I don’t have much choice except to sit most of the day. Oh I get up quite often for short periods of walking and exercise, but the gist of my day is spent in a chair. I have plenty of things I can do like watching TV, reading a book, writing, working on my genealogy, a craft or even coloring in my color book. Or I can simple sit in the quiet and listen. The thing is I’m so tired most of the time that the TV seems to be the most mindless thing to do. In spite of my cloudy mind I still hear my inquiring mind reaching out from within. In case you haven’t guessed already I’m a pretty deep thinker. Nothing keeps those thoughts from finding a way out, except when I ignore it. I find myself saying lately, “Go away, and come again another day.” But to be honest I miss being connected to that inner part of myself. I miss being in the quiet. It’s simple a matter of choice. I can be in a noisy mindless state or in a quiet mindful state.
“A troubled man exhausted from his suffering and confusion, asked a sage for help. The sage looked deeply into the troubled man and with compassion offered him a choose: “You can have either a map or a boat.”
After looking at the many pilgrims about him, all of whom seemed equally troubled, the confused man said, “I’ll take the boat.”
The sage kissed him on the forehead and said, “Go than. You are the boat. Life is the sea.”***
In the quiet I’m always able to rediscover the sea of life that exists within me. Like a fisherman all I need to do is sit quietly bobbing in my boat, listening and waiting for the catch of the day to reveal itself to me.
***from “The Book of Awakening” by Mark Nepo
“Evelyn Underhill said we spend our lives “conjugating three verbs: to want, to have and to do. Craving, clutching and fussing on the material, political, social, emotional, intellectual — even on the religious plane — we are kept in perpetual unrest, forgetting that none of these verbs have any ultimate significance, except so far as they are transcended by and included in the fundamental verb, to be: and that Being — not wanting, having and doing — is the essence of a spiritual life.”
Sometimes life thrust us into situations where the wanting, having and doing don’t really matter because you can’t do anything anyway. All there is exist in simple being. That’s the way these past few weeks have been for me as I recover from my surgery. I can sit and dream about all the things I want, I can pile up all the things I have around me, but I can’t find the clarity, energy or strength to do anything. I am living right now. Each day that goes by is a day I’ll never get back. So I can do one of two things: sit and dream about someday or be in the now. To be or not to be, really does become the question for me. If I want this day to have meaning, than letting go of what I can’t do anyway brings me face to face with me, myself and I. What do I do now? I am nothing without going deeper within. That is where the real meaning of being is found. It is a place where I am able to connect with all that makes me whole and complete. It is home and the words slip from my lips, “Here I am Lord.”