Well, when things move in my life they move quickly and in all directions at once. As you know, I just bought my first house (with my family's help--thanks Mom and Dad) and moved in. The housewarming is this Saturday, which I'm looking forward to. . . .meanwhile, I woke up Monday with a thought, a thought that felt like a directive: "You're supposed to go on the women's yatra to Anandpur Sahib". I didn't give it much weight until later that afternoon, the leader of the yatra and my Kundalini Yoga Trainer dropped by and invited me personally, saying she'd give me a significant break on the price if I would join them and serve as a ragini (musician) during the trip.
This coincidence of course caught my attention. Then, when I mentioned the possibility to my boss he said, I don't see why not, which of course was unexpected.
Anyway, the long and the short of it is that I'm going to India for the first time. I can't believe it. My rational mind says, You just bought a house! You can't go to India. But my heart keeps saying, it will work out; it will all work out. In many ways it's my way of giving myself a chance. I've been so depressed and so full of doubt about myself, my path, my purpose. This trip is a way to explore all those questions and see which way the wind blows.
Until then, I've got a lot of work to do and very little time to do it in. Wish me luck!
mother of the world
are you mine?
and am I yours?
daughter of the West
seeks your shores
to find what?
Oh mother india
this seeker with your
shining in the eyes
of all who know you
That's my theme word for the year. I know, I know. It's a little late for new year's themes, but I'm a little slow sometimes. And over the past few weeks, maturity has been a recurrent theme. Maybe it's buying a house, maybe it's giving up on all those unfulfilled dreams of my 20s and 3os, or maybe it's just time, but I finally feel like I'm growing up and part of that growing up is responding to life with a level of emotional maturity that I've never been able to muster before. Now, does that mean that I no longer scream at my computer when it freezes on me or that I'm the picture of patience with a teller that is as slow as molasses on a cold day? No. I'm still me. But in general, I'm making an effort to respond in a more mature way--to my friends, to my family, and to life in general.
I've finally tired of being a brat. Who knew the day would come? May all who know me rejoice. This is a record day! ha! But seriously, it's a big shift internally to even be willing to try. Up to now my attitude has always been 'take me or leave me', which works up to a point; but when it doesn't work, it creates a lot of havoc and a lot of hurt and confusion in relationships.
So, here's to maturity. It kind of feels good to be a grown-up.
Today is the anniversary of my friend's brother's death. I didn't know his brother. I had just moved here the summer before--so I saw him around but never got to know him, Kunle Adeniji, but I always heard great things about him. And then I blinked my eyes and he was gone.
Since his death, I've become friends with his brother and I don't think the impact of his loss has ever really sunk in with me. And to be fair, I don't think you can really ever know someone else's grief until you've gone through it yourself. No matter how much I want to empathize, I'll never know his experience, the profound loss of companionship and family, the guilt, the pain as well as the fun and the laughter.
We blink our eyes--and then it's gone. Life. But sometimes it seems that it's only the loss of someone that makes us realize how precious this life is.
To the King!
May his light continue to merge with the great light that guides us all. . . .
Home Sweet Home
Well, I made the big leap this past week. Signed the papers, moved the stuff and the animals and now I'm in my first home. I could have hired people; but it was so nice to have my friends there at the end of it all, looking around in wonder at the four walls that I now owned.
It was a fun day and it went quickly. Start to finish--two hours. Everyone said it was the fastest move they'd ever been a part of. I pride myself on making it easy....everything in a box is the rule. I didn't quite meet my standard this time, but I was also feverish and coughing up a lung. I did pretty good considering.
The bonus was that I got to move my dog on the same day. I didn't think the fence would be done in time, but the workers were already half way done by the time I got to the house. So later that afternoon, I picked Vinnie up and brought him to his new home where he can run freely about the back yard. It's going to change our relationship considerably. I'm looking forward to it.
The cats are eagerly wanting to be outside, but I've got to get the cat door installed still. Soon come. Soon come.
Most people said that I'd feel so differently in my very own house. That ownership brought with it some significant changes in perspective, security, etc. Maybe it hasn't sunk in yet or maybe it's just me, but I don't notice any real shift in the inner landscape--but I do think about landscaping the yard a lot! ha....
May everyone have shelter
May everyone have friends
May everyone have family
and make a home
in their hearts
for laughter and love
and good cooking
and good times
May everyone be happy
and safe and at peace
Home Sweet Home
sounds good to me
Six Degrees of Separation
I know I should be writing about politics or the upsets in Sunday's football games--these are my typical topics of conversation. But lately, I've been so deeply enmeshed in my own personal healing process that it seems to be all that I can write about.
As a student of yoga, we 'believe' in karma; we intellectually discuss the impact of past lives; and we generally accept it as an explanation of how life works. And until recently, that's what it has remained for me--an intellectual, philosophical exercise. I had vague sensations of possible past-life experiences but nothing I could put my finger on. And even today, I can easily write-off what has happened as my creative imagination contributing to a story that helps me make sense of how I feel and helps me move toward how I want to feel--free! But with all the caution aside, I'm simply going to write about my experience. Take it or leave it.
I have never let things go easily. I hang on--to the bitter end it seems--even in the face of how much pain it causes both myself and the other person. So lately, I've been overcome, yet again, with my tremendous remorse at the loss of my 'beloved.' And I continue to ask, why am I sooo attached to him, to the idea of our being together, to the reality--in my heart of hearts--that he's my husband. I know intellectually that it's not happening; that it's not going to go down that way; that it's over. So--why?
I took this question to one of my healers today. And we went somewhere that I didn't expect to go. I don't 'believe' in past life regressions. I don't 'believe' in recovered memory. I generally don't 'believe' in any of the things that accompany this type of esoteric therapy. Nevertheless, we went down the road together and creative imagination or true past-life recall doesn't really matter. I had a tremendous experience that will, I hope, lead to a greater understanding of my grief, my panic, and my shock at the loss of him--again.
You see, he is my husband, or rather, he was. We were a family; but we were separated in a tragic and brutally violent way. The details are a bit too gruesome to share here--just imagine the most violent scenes from a war movie you've seen and you'll get a taste of it. It's not the details that matter anyway, it's the relief I feel now. The compassion I have for him and for myself for what we witnessed together--and the forgiveness I experienced by witnessing it again: forgiving myself for not being able to save our children and forgiving him for not being able to save me.
I see his photo now and I just smile, remembering how much love we had. I'm still a little shook at the vision I had--the terror we experienced together. But I can see now that we're here, in each other's lives again, not to relive it--the good or the bad--but rather to help one another heal and move on. So I'm sending him love and light and I'm allowing myself to let go and let God.
The mystery is great
and the chasm is deep.
Shine the light in the dark places
forgive what you can
and merge with God
for that is the only true healing
we can know
So much to say and so little time to write. I continue to wrestle with my dark side; but this week has brought a lot of progress and sense of lightness of being, which is rare for this earth-bound monkey. I still have a hard time trusting--myself, the universe, other people. And that's the question put to me this week: Do you trust God to restore you? to take care of you? As Yogiji says, "The one who revolves the planets will take care of your routine." And yet, I don't even trust that anyone will show up to help me move this Saturday!
I feel so very far from God right now that trying to figure out whether I trust God seems a moot point, but in fact, I just need to figure out if I can trust 'just enough'--not perfectly--to get me through these dark days.
For the first time in my life, I'm finally willing to look at why I attract into my life the things, people, and situations that I attract. There is a strong chance that I was harmed as a child. And my willingness to finally look at it means major progress--and yet it seems that once again I'm holding a double-edged sword. On one side, I feel such tremendous relief at my willingness to look and realize I won't die in the act of looking. On the other, I'm so incredibly angry that my life and the choices I've made--consciously and unconsciously--could have come from something and someone that I don't even remember. It's incredulous to me--and yet, there it is.
So, here I am--still here, still alive, still kicking. Now to figure out how to just sit--still.
The morning after
. . . there's got to be a morning after. Remember that old 70s song? I don't know why it came to me suddenly. I guess because it's a conundrum. Life in its relentless, glorious way continues on--even when we don't choose it.
Friday was dark--evidently for a lot of people. A friend of a friend ended her life on Friday. It brought my own recent emotional mire into stark relief. Thanks to friends who can listen without attachment, I'm able to look at the truth behind all the lies and wrong-thinking that make up my current mental/emotional state.
A friend and I were discussing what had happened and she looked at me and said, "if you have truly surrendered, if you are truly on a spiritual path, suicide is not an option." Because I've struggled with depression a few times in my life, as I'm struggling now, I said "but being depressed and searching for a spiritual solution often go hand-in-hand, it doesn't mean that the search wasn't genuine if the result was that they were unable to overcome their depression and ended their life." And even though she agreed somewhat with my supposition, she also cut my argument to shreds. She said it was about humility. If you no longer want to struggle with the question of living and dying, then you have to be humble. I have to allow myself to 'not know'. I have to take the 'meaning' of life off the table. It's not longer a question I can ask. Put simply, I have to accept life on life's terms, which I've never been good at. But it was a clean bright sword through my own dark dreams, my persistent resistance to life.
I am not the one in control.
More on Hope
Hope is that thing inside us that insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it, and to work for it, and to fight for it.
Hope is . . . the belief that our destiny will not be written for us, but by us; by all those men and women who are not content to settle for the world as it is; who have the courage to remake the world as it should be. --Barack Obama, January 3, 2008
The Language of Depression
Depression is an over-used term in our culture. Everybody's depressed. But depression, true depression, is very real. I've had episodes in the past that were debilitating. And as the new year rolls on, I find myself in the middle of an episode that I've been flirting with since this summer. There are those who consider depression situational; that is, dependent upon circumstances. Circumstances improve and depression lifts. In part this is true; I recognize it even in myself. If there were still hope of this relationship coming together, I would feel better. But it's not based on anything real. It's a ghost.
And as I look at my life right now, that's exactly how I feel--haunted. So many ghosts. So much emptiness--even in the face of so much fullness, prosperity, and grace.
My mind keeps coming back to words like annihilation, oblivion, wasteland. It's dark territory right now. I can't seem to shake it, even as I see it, recognize it for what it is, and continue on. So in some ways, it's a new experience for me. I've had this feeling before; but this time, it's as though there are two concurrent minds working against one another. One wants to destroy me--or rather, destroy everything. The other just watches and wonders why I still feel this way? Is it actually my feeling? Is it someone else's that I've absorbed? There's a foreignness to it, an alien-like quality to my alienation (ha!). I can't seem to connect to the people closest to me. It's as though there's a sound-proof wall between us. I can see them and hear them; but I can't seem to connect from my side. It's all very familiar and yet not.
The mind that longs to annihilate what I know as me says, You're just so full of self-pity. Snap out of it! And in some ways, that mind is right. When I first got sober, my mantra was "Change or die." I understood intimately that depression was simply a call for change. And I know that it's true again. But that same voice--that same challenge, Change or die!, no longer works. I have to find a new solution.
The mind that's observing this process, this 'depression', doesn't seem to have any answers. But it does have a lot of compassion. With this relationship ending, a lot more was lost than just some girlhood crush made manifest. Combine this loss with my age, my parents' failing health, my general discontent at work, and the sinking reality that I'll now probably never have my own child, and you have a recipe for transformation. I need a whole new orientation. One would think that my faith would provide that--fill in the gaping hole inside of me. But I feel so betrayed by what has happened that even God feels very far from here.
So, how do you move forward with nothing to comfort you any longer. Nothing to save you. Nothing to cling to. No illusions. No ground. That's the question that is put before me now.
I'll keep reporting back. Stay tuned.
Hope to hope
I had a conversation with my teacher the other day about hope. How relentless it seems to be in my psyche. How I can't seem to drop it. And how painful I find it at the same time. He said, Quit hoping in something outside yourself. Be the hope. At the time I didn't find it very helpful or soothing to the bitterness that's been burrowing itself inside me lately. But as I've meditated on it, I realize it's just another mirror in the long hall of illusions that is me seeking something outside myself for fulfillment and happiness. I find hope so insipid and 'hopeless' because I'm hoping for something outside of me. So of course, the remedy is to quit hoping and instead, be the hope. I believe Ghandi said, be the change you want to see. Yogiji said, if you have no hope, be the hope. In my case, if you are deluded by doubt and hope keeps rearing its ugly head to take you on yet another trip, another fantasy, another illusion of happiness, take up your sword and chop its head off. Kill the buddha. There is no hope outside of you. Just as there is no buddha outside of you.
So, I'm meditating on what it means to quit hoping and be the hope.
I hope it turns out all right (smile).