Waiting and Wanting

Unknown

Wishing and hoping and thinking and praying, planning and dreaming – so much time spent in”tanha,” our unquenchable desire for more.  More what? Money, attention, sex, food, alcohol, nicotine, travel, friends, freedom from, ability to.  Makes my head spin just thinking about all the time I have used up waiting and wanting, and hardly ever landing, even for a split second, in the abundant now where all my needs and wants are effortlessly met.  We really need very little, but our identification with the “false self,” the social and mental construct we have created to please others, to get us started on our life journey, can be a stifling box of shoulds and should-nots, a laundry list of what we must get and acoomplish in order to be desirable, in order to impress others.

“Jesus would call your “false self” your “wineskin,” which he points out is only helpful insofar as it can contain some good and new wine. He says that “old wineskins” cannot hold any new wine; in fact, “they burst and both the skins and the wine are lost” (Luke 5:37-38).  “The old wine is good enough” (Luke 5:39), says the man or woman set in their ways.” (Richard Rohr)  The “false self” is not good or bad, but it is, in the words of Richard Rohr, “bogus” because it pretends to be more than it is. In order to keep up the facade, the false self must constantly be acquiring, procuring, and protecting which leaves little or no time for growth and expansion.  The “false self” is afraid of the unknown, of limitless possibility and would much rather stay entrenched in its egoic operating system.

The “true self” which is now and forever connected to the Whole has no need to prop itself up or separate itself from others.  True freedom and liberation belong to the realm of the “true self,” who “lives forever and is truly free in this world.”  The “true self” recognizes that “regardless of what we thirst after—junk food, healthful food, sex—the thirst, the tanha, fosters an illusion of enduring gratification. When I see anything tasty, I imagine how good it will taste, not how that satisfaction will inevitably fade, leading to the desire for more.” (Robin Wright).  The “true self,” through contemplation, knows that gratification is fleeting and the freedom to choose how and when we satisfy our cravings is more than making a wise decision, it is claiming our ability to discern and in so doing claiming  we claim out connection to that which is inexhaustible, the field of infinite possibility.

 

Came to Believe

Came to believe that a power greater than myself could restore me to sanity.  Sane, soul , soulful, sound mind and body, spirit, immortal – words sprawled on a page, but to what end?  Is it not the meaning we attach to a word that gives it power?  For instance, catastrophe. I often hear this word in reference to the events of the past year. Whether they be political or personal, labeling any event as catastrophic pretty much seals the deal.  Once so labeled, there is little or no room for possibility.  Take the definition of catastrophe, a disaster, a calamitous event, especially one occurring suddenly and causing great loss of life, damage, or hardship and lay it over a life event, any life event like the loss of a loved one, a divorce, a diagnosis, a betrayal, an apparent failure and so on and what is left?  Bereavement, sorrow, irreconcilable resentment and anger, depression, insurmountable grief, and possibly utter and irreparable despair, (the complete loss or absence of hope.)   What is life without hope?  How can there be meaning without trust, without destiny, without the Soul?  I believe that our sole purpose to is discover The Soul our unique blueprint which was to us given at our conception and lies in wait for us to discover it, choose it and live it into eternity.  I find that words like disaster, sanity, catastrophe, and the like impede our Soul’s journey by denying limitless possibilities

I tried for years to adhere to the definition of sanity, (the ability to think and behave in a normal and rational manner; sound mental health), with little success.  I know now that I am not normal (conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected) nor do I wanted to be labeled as such.  I am supernormal, exceptional as are you and you and you.  We each have within us the power to choose our destinies.  This power is the extension of the soul and is not preoccupied with form.  On the contrary its sole purpose is to give us the courage we need to discover our deepest selves.  The soul accompanied by its innate power is not interested in making people comfortable.  “The soul is who you are in God and who God is in you. We do not make or create our souls.  We only awaken them, allow them, and live out of their deepest messages.” (Richard Rohr)

I heard my soul’s voice loud and clear _ “Stop chemo.  It is killing me.”  I did as I was told.  Does this make me sane?  Who cares.  Certainly not me.  I am more concerned with adhering to the urgings of my deepest self than I am to the meanderings of my wayward analytical mind which makes sensible decisions based on available information.  You know like protocol, statistics, studies, percentages, and cold, hard facts.3a4e7b30d4b6fc019f414a55e331536b

So to paraphrase, I came to believe that a power greater than myself could restore me to luminosity and depth of seeing, to the “light.”  May I welcome life on life’s terms and not deny “the wonderful underlying mystery that is everywhere, all the time.” (from Breathing Underwater). Every life event is a call to believe in a power greater than ourselves, to believe in the possibility of miracles, to believe that healing is the byproduct of loving self and others unconditionally.

Thus I came to believe that there are no disaters, no catastophes, no failures, only limitless possiblities to heal. By healing, I mean cultivating the capacity to live out of the clear, simple and uncluttered presence for it is in the present that we encounter The Presence, whether we call it God or not, matters little. What does mattter is whether or not we can learn to let life come to us trusting that God in us, our Soul, has called us, and that God, i.e. The Soul is incapable of failure.

 

haunted

Convalescing – to recover one’s health and strength over a period of time after an illness or operation.  this verb assumes there was health and strength prior to the illness or operation, but what it that were not the case.  What if said patient had spent a lifetime undermining her body’s ability to be healthy, drinking, smoking, provoking depression by brooding on the past?  What then?  Would not convalescing then be the discovery of health an strength, the creation of a new life, one that does not deny prior difficulties but which instead uses them to bolster the desire to live more fully now.

If I am no longer haunted by the past can I now risk living in the unknown, in a life free of fear and resentment, while waiting for the new me to emerge? What will I do?  How will I think now that I have stopped running away?  Seems that every moment of my life, prior to the onset of the disease that has ruled these past 12 months, was pregnant with waiting and wanting…wanting a different life…waiting for the life I had been living to end, perhaps even in death.  What now?  Now that I want more than anything to live.  What does this future hold?  Que sera, sera?

At least we know there has been an end to one haunting.  I am no longer nor will I ever again be pursued by my past.  Now I must learn to release ghosts that hold me hostage to a disease I will never again have.  I release my diagnosis, my doctors, my treatments, my diagnostic tests, the operations, the weeks of recovery, the time away from work, apart from the world, and the time spent in fear of dying.  I now claim my life, going forward with an intention to live fully no matter what the risk, to live into not away from the new life I have been given.

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“Im Still Here” Ram Dass

The present moment is the only moment available to us and it is the door to all momentsPutting it into words, words that convey the meaning of a state of being beyond description, a place to which few chose to travel, but where many arrive they know not how.  A wrinkle in time, compressed by pain and stretched by courage.  The overlap of what once was and what would never be again, a salient point – the absolute knowledge that nothing, nothing will ever be as it had been, not good or bad, right or wrong, simply irreversibly different as is, though unnoticed, every moment of every day.  No two seconds are the same.  Even the vain egoic attempt to take the past and pale it over the future with what one believes to be an indelible imprint is sheer folly.   It is absolutely impossible to predict the future let alone control it, cajole it into giving you what you think you want, what you say you must have to survive.  What Tomfoolery.  However there may be the possibility, in fact I am convinced that there is just that, of living the future now, of taking the bucket list of things you say must happen in order for you to be successful, to be happy, to be inspired….take that list and start checking them off one by one.  Do it now.  Live as if all your dreams have already come true.  If that were the case, how would you feel?  Grateful? Gratitude sounds reasonable, does it not?  Gratitude is the ultimate state of receivership.  Could one’s destiny be directly linked to the amount of time spent practicing gratitude.  Destiny is wither a choice or it is fate.  Which will it be?  I  chose the former.  Not fighting to change what is, not forcing something from nothing, but standing erect on the ground of this present moment with an eye to a vibrant, adventurous future. I am now living ispired by the shimmer of what is yet to come.

Urgency Becomes Art

My heart is a clenched fist at the center of my chest. Some dark force pushes me forward, forcing me to peer over the edge of abyss. I have always had a fear of heights, of falling or worse yet jumping into the unknown. In a reoccurring nightmare, I am tumbling down a steep hill. Large bags of sand are inches behind me. With every roll, I fall deeper and deeper into darkness. I awaken just as the sandbags are about to catch up and crush me. Rabbi Yisrael Baal Shem Tov said: “Let me fall.  If I must fall, the one I will become will catch me.”

Now as I sit at my husband’s coffee shop (Relevant Roasters) reading Anne Truitt’s Daybook and waiting to leave for a ten o’clock appointment, I realize the extent to which my life has been ruled by urgency. In the past, I viewed the exigencies of my life as tempests wrought with anxiety, fraught with tension and ladened with foreboding, but today, I choose to see them otherwise.  Why not direct my urgency into my work? Like paint on a canvas, I can apply it to time and space, harness it’s energy for the highest good. I will strike a bargain with my inordinate need to do something, anything to alleviate my discomfort. I will require my urgency to work for the highest good. By using it to cultivate a higher degree of consciousness, I give it purpose and in so doing, silence it.  Once quieted, it is malleable and can be easily pressured into service. Urgency extended toward higher consciousness becomes art.

Art is, by it’s very nature, a superior level of action.  The space between an idea and its manifestation, is a world unto itself, a place where, with a “little touch of grace,” one can know the presence of God.  “But,” in the words of Anne Truitt, “we must pay attention to that area in order to notice the grace, or even perhaps to attract it.”  If I am to notice grace, I must channel my urgency.  I must pay attention to that part of me that knows God. For it is there that I will find immersion “in a process so absorbing as to be its own reward.” (Anne Truitt).

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More about Aspiration

Webster defines ambition as “an eager or inordinate desire for preferment, honor, superiority, power or attainment.”  Reading this I cringe, not wanting to admit that my ego could be so demanding.  Experience teaches me that I am never more unhappy than when I am clamoring for the attention and praise of others.  When I manipulate myself, turning myself into a pretzel in an attempt to please another whether it be “Joe public,” a friend, my husband or my children, I inevitably fail to attain the desired results, which, in my case, are usually indefinable.  The need in me to be buoyed by another, to be praised for some act of kindness or for the work I do, arises from an insatiable, lonely, hungry ghost.  This phantom in me, a remnant of a lost childhood, can be likened Audrey 2, the plant in The Little Shop of Horrors singing,  “Feed me Seymour.  Feed me all night long.”  The more blood Seymour gives Audrey, the more she needs.

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I aspire to do good work, to serve others,and to express through my yoga teaching and my writing a belief that labor, when done with love and devotion is itself the reward.  To this end daily do I offer this prayer written by Swami Rama to the Divine Mother.

O Divine Mother

May all my speech and idle talk be mantra

All actions of my hands be mudra

May all eating and drinking be the offering of oblations unto thee

All lying down be prostrations before thee

May all pleasures be as dedicating my entire self unto thee

May everything I do this day be taken as thy worship

and I add, May all that I am and all that I do today be of service to thee.

Can One Learn to Aspire?

How did I, the eldest of six children raised in an unpredictable, violent home, survive the tumult and thrive?  One brother dead of stage four lung cancer at the age of 44.  Two others brothers, high school drop outs, working to drink and drinking to work.  The eldest of the boys, my immediate junior, has been homeless for forty years.  My sister, bless her heart, has survived, made a life for herself, her husband and her dogs.

And so it is this Wednesday morning at 6:28 a..m. while reading Anne Truitt’s Daybook, that I again ask, “Why did I aspire to more?  Was I born with a propensity to achieve, to grow, to see the world as a playground of possibility rather than a war zone, or was I fortunate to have in my life people who pointed me in the right direction?  A father, though depressed and abusive, who took me to the library, signed me up for summer reading programs, and encouraged me to play an instrument in the orchestra.  Or was it my violin teacher, who knowing that we were poor, gave me free lessons and personally drove me to competitions?  Or Ms. Hanson, my  fourth grade teacher, who helped me produce a play that I had written?

Was it Felicity Green, my first yoga teacher who appeared much later in life, when I was in my second marriage and the mother of two one beautiful children, at a time when the weight of the past was more than I could bear?   I lived and studied with Felicity for several months.  What did she instill in me?  She inspired an awakening to live beyond what had been and even to welcome, without reservation, the possibilities of what might be.

I wish that I could live life without antidepressants,the tiny capsules that pull me back from the abyss, but I lack the courage to suffer gallantly and creatively as it seems so many other artists do.  I aspire to be a writer, but know that I must learn how, in the words of Anne Truitt, “to articulate my personal experience into forms that transcend it.” In writing about the Greek poets, she says, “It was their solution to the problem of universal pain that struck me;  not the direct alleviation, but a way that beckoned people toward aspiration.”

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