We try and we fail. This is our constant sorrow, our never ending struggle, no matter where we are at in our progress or what we happen to be doing. There is effort and yet over and over again, there is failure. The longing to at last succeed is what unnerves us but it is also what drives us. And this is how we are able to grow, ceaselessly and undaunted by the challenges in our lives. In this way, meaning can be found in our mistakes. In this way, we learn to love the process rather than cling to a desired outcome. Because not everything worth doing is always done right.
This morning shortly after arriving to work I became fixated on something my 8-year old made for me when he was in preschool. To think that that was just over 3 years ago is bizarre. On the one hand it feels like just yesterday. But on the other it’s as though it were so long ago. Who I was then, where I was, what I was doing was completely different. And in that time my son has grown in so many of his own brilliant ways most assuredly.
What the message reminds me of is a lesson I have found myself sharing with my son over and over and over again. Because yes, there are times when I’ll catch him feeling sorry for himself; he feels he’s been cheated out of something that someone else got and he didn’t. And what I’ll tell him is how important it is to focus on what he has instead of what he hasn’t got. It’s amazing to watch those little wheels turning inside his head as a shift in perspective begins to take place on his face and in the way he proceeds with his life. He moves on. He gets over it. He learns to appreciate what he already has instead of clinging to feelings of jealousy and insecurity. He remembers the love in his life. (And the ice cream I just treated him to perhaps!)
There is something for me to take away from this, too. How often have I pined away for a love that couldn’t be reciprocated? How often have I wallowed in sorrow, loneliness, and discontent? Or wondered why other people get to fall in love and live happily ever after and I don’t? All the while forgetting–even deliberately–that I am already surrounded by so much love in my life. And who am I to expect more than what is already given me?
Never underestimate the power of being seen, heard, and understood. In this way our lives, our feelings, our experiences, our opinions and ideas become validated. We gain purpose. Life has meaning. This is what we all search for.
Good intentions don’t always yield the results we had hoped for. I found myself spouting this tidbit to a fellow comrade this morning, realizing the relevance it has had in my own life lately.
Rejection tends to leave one feeling broken, weak, and powerless. Instinctually, out of the pain and betrayal I feel, I want to hide behind my fear and anger. And I have done this. But once the dust has settled, once the storm is passed and I am back in touch with the deeper meaning of my life, I choose instead to express love, kindness, forgiveness. Because I believe those are the only things that last; certainly, they triumph over every misguided or ill intention I may have at one time harbored. And unquestionably they are what give my life meaning. I could choose to remain bitter, I could choose to disown those I feel betrayed by, to cast them out of my life like a thorn in my side. But all that does is increase the likelihood of eventually stepping on said thorn, creating more agony and turmoil for me down the road.
Ignoring someone who has hurt us isn’t facing our fears; it’s running away from them, especially when that person is trying only to show us the healing power of love and forgiveness. When we run from fear we run in circles, ending up always right where we started. Progression, growth, these things imply a linear movement forward or upward. They are also impossibilities unless we relinquish our fears and reach towards the light that is the extension of someone’s merciful hand.
Some motivations to express kindness are self-serving. Behind these acts there is a desire to get what we want, to feel better about ourselves, to feel less rejected. I’ve been rejected in love plenty. I now have what you would call a thick skin. You could set me on fire and I’d probably not bat an eye. And yet, to those who I have been hurt by and regardless of whether the same generosity is rendered to me, in the end I will always choose to extend graciousness and benevolence, not with my ego, but with my heart where the purest of intentions coexist often with the deepest well of sorrow and discontent. And in this way, I’d like to think I am destined for growth and for true love.
In the spirit of my first Throwback Thursday post where I shared some of my earliest poetry pieces, I’ve decided to continue publishing what has otherwise been written on scraps of paper, napkins, old mail and whatever else I could find at the time, desperate to see the words in my mind exist in front of me. For years these words have been stashed away in a box for no one else to see but me. What follows was written who-knows-when exactly; I got out of the habit of dating my work. I’m pretty sure these musings were written within the last 10 years, but I’m hoping their relevance is timeless. Happy Thursday!
If I am to be a dreamer, I want only to dream that the moment is real.
Let your desires be filled with a concern for others. Anything you achieve in this world, let it reflect a deep sense of compassion.
Only when we learn to understand one another can we begin to understand ourselves.
Love for the sake of loving,
Give for the sake of giving,
Ask for nothing in return and ye shall reap the benefits.
You mock the blind by choosing not to see what is right in front of you.
What you will find in the eyes of a mime–
That which was there the whole time.
The greatest thing one can do for humanity is to utter only truth.
If we knew how the story is supposed to end, why would we bother going cover to cover?
The only thing that makes a villain a villain are the heroes of the world.
The thrill of Hide-n-Seek is the process of being discovered. Once found, game over; it’s someone else’s turn to be “it”. Now run along and play nicely.
All we are is just a series of memories getting passed down from generation to generation.
I am but a reflection
of a reflection
of a reflection
of pure consciousness
giving way to distortion.
Life, I think, has more to do with the non-existence of life than of one’s ability to live and breathe.
The boundaries you see before you are only imagined. The key, I believe, is to unimagine them.
It’s not me that’s changing, it’s the weather.
“The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names.” -Chinese proverb
How frustrating it is to have good intentions only to be misunderstood in the end. But sometimes the way we act, the things we do convey meanings we didn’t aim to project. Through our behavior we communicate an unspokenness; a hidden truth to us; something buried so deep within that it often remains impenetrable even to ourselves. And so it becomes easy to do things that are out of line with our true nature as long as there remains this part of ourselves longing to be named.
But it’s not enough to label a behavior as ‘good’ or ‘bad’; in fact, this is inimical. As long as we carry on simply accepting certain conduct as acceptable or not acceptable, we cannot get to the nitty gritty of what our actions say about us in order to give a voice to all that we’ve been stifling throughout the course of our lives. This state of reticence creates drama and problems for us. It interferes with our ability to ask ourselves whether our behavior is in line with our core values. In fact, it can even prevent us from being able to identify what our values are.
We all know the importance of naming. There is a name for nearly everything under the sun. Expectant parents can have discussions that go on for hours regarding nothing more than what to call their child who is about to enter the world. Just think what would happen to that child’s sense of self if their parents simply chose not to name them. I imagine it would be confusing, disparaging, and lead to a host of insecurities and personal dilemmas for that person.
It is equally important to give name to the motivations behind our actions, avoiding judgement in labels like ‘positive’ or ‘negative’. We must really delve into the dark waters of our kaleidoscopic beings and ask ourselves those tough questions, such as: What or who does my behavior remind me of? What was I feeling when I chose to do this or that? Did my behavior feel like a choice? What are my biggest fears, where did those fears stem from, and how might my behavior be simulating those fears? What has brought me the most pain and suffering? Have I recreated that pain and suffering in someone else’s life? Forget right or wrong. Forget good or bad. This is you getting real with yourself. This is you giving a name unto yourself, one that you have chosen for yourself. Because once you can name the root of your pain, you can set yourself and those around you free from it.
So, moments ago something brilliant happened: I knocked over a glass of water. At first, I did not think it was very brilliant, in fact, I cursed at what had occurred. Because now I had to get up, grab a towel, ya da ya da, so much effort, right? I was really enjoying just sitting there.
But then my brain went back to the split second before this incident occurred. And what my brain was telling my body not to do was knock over that glass of water, spilling it all over me and the couch. But guess what? It fuckin’ didn’t matter because my body didn’t listen, or perhaps gravity wasn’t paying attention, or maybe… I willed it to happen.
By merely entertaining the thought, perhaps I invited that situation into my life. And if that’s the case, how often do we do this? We create things all the time that begin as nothing more than a mere inkling, the very vaguest of ideas, which could have the power to transform the whole world, or at least our own lives. The fact that I can write these words onto a page (because originally I wrote this out on paper!) that started out blank is just an example. Other artists do it all the time: turning nothing into something; bringing their ideas to fruition and watching them grow as they begin to inspire others to develop their own theories and abstractions.
But then I think: don’t we all do this? Our life is a work of art if that’s how we choose to see it. But first, we must will it to be. Do we choose to labor with love, commitment, passion, and drive? Or do we choose to confront our lives like I did when I spilled that glass of water? “Fuckin A! I don’t want to get off the couch!“
Impermanence. Attached to this word is something I think many of us resist: the threat of loss; the idea of letting go of something once synonymous with the very idea of ourselves. We know that nothing lasts forever and yet we live in such a state of denial of our finiteness and the fleeting nature of all things, including our personal relationships with others.
We do come to cherish some of those relationships much more than others and this is how it’s always been. Our very survival and sense of self have rested upon this practice of interdependence upon an entity known as ‘other’, beginning with the family we were born into. As we grow older, we choose who to welcome into our circle. This often includes significant others, our children, and close friends.
The older (and wiser) I get, the more I realize how important it is to spend unimportant moments with cherished loved ones. And because that’s so crucial, not only to my own growth but to theirs, I’ve had to let go of this idea that I can be all things to all people. Because what matters most, what is central to my existence, is being fully present for my children and those few I have had the honor to call ‘friend’ for so long and for so many different reasons.
As I find myself at this point in my life where others are dependent upon me for so many different things-to the extent that I even forget at times that I haven’t done anything all day out of even a tinge of selfish volition-I find that I simply do not have the time, or the energy, to keep up with the lives of people I once had good intentions to stay connected to.
Stepping stones. This is how I’ve come to see the lives and paths I’ve crossed which are more strangers to me now. Where once I held so tightly to the idea of keeping certain kinships alive, despite at times a lack of effort coming from the other side, I am finally able to see those relationships for what they were then and what they are now. Each one played a part, in some small or even grand way, in shaping the person I am today. Each one acted as a guide along my journey, pointing the way whether by chance or great intention. We made our exchanges; both gave and both received. It is with humility that I continue on my path, thanking the heavens for all the blessings bestowed upon me by you, perfect stranger.
I’ve given it some thought on this rainy Tuesday morning and it seems to me that the key to sustaining a nourishing relationship is being able to answer ‘yes’ to these four things: 1) Do I love this person? 2) Do I love them so much that I would be willing to be dragged through the mud in a torrential thunder storm with them? 3) Do I trust this person to be honest with themselves in addition to being honest with me? 4) Above all, do I feel respected and important?
I really feel that if you can answer ‘yes’ to those questions about another person, and they can say the same about you, you’re probably destined for truly amazing things. You are probably on your way to becoming your best version of yourself because it is through our trials with others, especially with those we love and trust more than anyone, that we gain the power (if we allow it) to rise above even ourselves instead of becoming wrought with fear. And by rising above ourselves, we can know the beauty of true love. It really is quite simple, and yet so complicated. But then, I believe we all too often make things harder than they really are.
I think we have to recognize that times are going to be tough. Insecurities will arise; they’re part of what make us who we are, each one telling a story about where we’ve been, what we’ve done, things we’ve seen. And they’re also part of what make us so uniquely divine. In those insecurities are opportunities for strength and vulnerability; for it is by admitting our vulnerability that we actually gain strength.
Allowing another to see us… really see us… opens up the path to love and enlightenment. It is frightening and full of uncertainty, yet still, this is the path I choose. Which one do you choose?