I’ve been urged twice in the past day to write about what I’ve been experiencing lately.
Yet the question, do I really love writing as much as I think I do, has been placing itself in between me and verbalizing responses to this urging…
For the moment my relationship with words is one of suspicious glances and brief flirtations; encounters of little depth really. It’s seemed more important to me, or at least more pressing, to be busy with living, even when that living isn’t busy at all, but slow, patient, and what feels to me to be audaciously unmotivated to be “doing.” As I expand more into allowing myself to be the master of each moment, in rebellion towards expectations, identities and planning, I find that I am not thinking about what I am doing as fodder for writing anymore. Sometimes writing can be like taking photographs, in our effort to get the perfect angle we miss participating in the moment. So these requests to write felt at once flattering and unappetizing, the way it feels to receive a complement about something we are about ready to let go of, a car we’re about to sell or a box of clothes wanting to get donated. I wasn’t really sure I wanted to keep or own the item or the complement respectively…
Yet what has brought me back to write is that on my best days writing has also been a way of engaging more deeply with an experience, a way of seeing more readily the humor, paradox, irony and beauty in my perceptions about the world. For now I believe that I can engage with writing as a challenge, a place to explore my own truths more deeply- without attachment to the inevitable contradictions that arise as we change.
So here I am… wide eyed and both confounded and deeply settled in the wonderful feeling of entertaining completely changing course, taking the fall off from the grad program I’ve been in this year, and making no plans to fill the hole in my schedule where classes, reading, and writing papers would be. Hell, so many people are unemployed right now, there is an energy of cutting loose from the past limitations, taking risks, learning and changing in defiance of and unbounded by the growth rates of the past; my prayer is for us all to ride this wave and have the courage to enjoy it. I hear critics saying that’s all well and fine without a house or family on the line… but many more committed than I have chosen courage over fear in situations facing the unknown, I don’t think it’s unique to position or background.
Though on the surface it is a risky moment for me as well, I already have 35,000 out in loans, I have no job, I’m no closer to having an alternative, etc, etc, etc, many reasons why it seems like I should be concerned about my lack of clarity. Yet I’ve never been happier. Indeed I think the greater risk has actually made this moment feel more liberating for me. I don’t think freedom is a vacation where everything is taken care of, it’s discovering your own truth in spite of constraints, it’s choosing to let go even when there may be severe consequences. For Socrates it was drinking the Hemlock and dying for his beliefs that set him free, far more free than he ever would have felt alive but compromised in his principles.
I’m not worried about the money running out, I’m not worried about not having a job, I’m not worried about what I’m going to do with my life, I’m straight up not worried. It’s great! I have faith; utter, deep, unwavering faith… accompanied by what feels like pure joy, a sensation of cutting strings, letting go of all the encumbrance of things, ideas, beliefs, etc. I can’t say too much about this, I would need poetry that flew off the page and drove you to quit your job and take off with a backpack and a musical instrument to truly communicate where the keys to your cage are. I am finding mine, and we are each charged with this responsibility; to find the keys, to let ourselves out in the middle of a moonless night, without fanfare or any more celebration than the first pure experience of your heart soaring high and free.
Margaret Wheatley once said that she thought it was a good idea to have a bonfire of beliefs every year. At the time I didn’t know what she meant, though I could feel some wisdom in it. I think I understand now.
This moment by moment en-joy-ment and faith has been accompanied by a great number of sudden opportunities to forgive and move on from past hurts. In the past few weeks alone I have “bumped into” and had meaningful new encounters with 8 or 9 people who I either had some anxiety about, or anticipated that they had some trepidation around me. The first moment of each encounter is an opportunity to make a new choice: to drop down into the habitual way of relating or to greet the person with the sudden joy of a familiar face in a new world with a new me, as allies and trusted friends, persons with whom our shared history, whatever it is peppered with, is actually the foundation for the trust that comes with betrayal* (“Not until faithfulness turns to betrayal and betrayal to trust can any human being become part of the truth” Jelaluddin Rumi).
In a previous post I spoke of forgiveness as an act of empathy and compassion to another; I am now understanding, with much gratitude to Caroline Myss, that it is also, and perhaps primarily, a great act of self-love to not hold on to said wounds. When I chose to simply encounter them as they were with love I found an explosion of energy from both of us as we relaxed and rejoiced at a moment to be free with who we were now, instead of drawn into an old script that leaves both people feeling two-dimensional and unseen. Perhaps that is the easiest way of saying it, in those moments I chose to see both of us as beings longing to be free and to be seen, and I allowed my wholehearted present self to take over, to see them and to set them free from any strings tying them to me. I am calling my spirit back from the places that I have left it over the years, and the result of that has been very much increased energy and a sense of peace.
I have also been given more opportunities recently to be honest with myself and others about what I’m feeling in situations that may be somewhat uncomfortable. This has manifested in situations where a person will ask something of me, or desire a certain kind of exchange, that doesn’t feel right for me. What I am realizing is that not saying what is hard but true is subtly another way in which I seek approval. I know now that saying no can elicit an array of responses that can be positive, negative, neutral or somewhere between in that continuum… but on closer inspection my fear of “hurting them” is an altruistic cover for a set of fears that have nothing to do with them. The fear of saying what I want, and what i don’t want, the fear of being perceived as a bitch for being unwilling to always accommodate, the fear of closing doors, the fear of being wrong about something, the fear of disappointing others, the fear of not being approved of. Wow! All the discomfort I’ve felt in the past trying to get my truth to come out of my mouth, I never really stopped to ask myself why that was so uncomfortable for me! Yet risking disappointing people to speak the momentary truth of how I feel, as you can imagine, has been liberating. Furthermore, because I now feel an irresistible compulsion to tell someone my truth my creativity and heart are rising to the occasions and finding greater facility of expression in communicating these truths to others with love. The quality of my communication and experience has changed and I think others hear what I am saying differently. Most people seem to be relieved to hear something that would usually be unsaid brought to the surface, it lets them let go too, and it honors their maturity to deal with life as it is, not cushioned for their comfort.
With that I’m putting more and more faith in the belief that when the energy for something to happen is right, it will orchestrate it’s own becoming. The more faith I put in that the more relieved I am of my ego’s endless compulsion to create results, craft my life, and control myself and others.
More than that, I have realized that if I am not feeling enough energy behind any of the ideas I have right now, maybe I shouldn’t commit to any of them! I can enter my unknowing and uncertainty today with the spirit of curiosity and adventure… paths emerge, things develop, opportunities present, with or without my urgent seeking for the next. And mmmm, how delicious, sensuous, sexy, powerful, fun, and free it is to be in unknowing with senses alive to possibility but not grasping for certain futures.
Rumi says, “Don’t do anything to make people applaud” and what he’s talking about is the attachment we gain to receiving approval and how even a spiritual or personal advance can be a trap if we get attached to people’s response to it. The joy all this closure and opening has brought me in my life has been all the reward I need. The flow itself is delicious, and any opportunity to attend the school of this moment and read with the instrument of my body the experience I am gifted with is a liberation, a splendor of possibility, an exaltation to my soul, and an offering of great gratitude to my teachers and guides.
* Side note on Betrayal-Betrayal feels like a strong word, but to me it is any perceived violation of what we believe our agreement with another person to be. Adultery is only a betrayal if the couple has decided to be monogamous, while something as slight as a shift in the form of a friendship or having a friend or partner not be there for you in the way you want them to be can feel like a betrayal. What Rumi is saying is that our real communities cannot begin until we have learned to be more resilient to and assimilating of the quakes and shifts of life. To expect that people, our environment, or life itself will mold itself to meet our expectations is foolish, and a waste of energy. Better to honor our sense betrayal, notice what it was that we expected and what it was that actually happened, and expand ourselves to meet this new increased understanding of the possibilities of reality. When we understand that everything is possible and choose to love and trust people based on our commitment to each other rather than our perfect abilities to meet each others’ expectations, then true community becomes possible. A community built in such a way (around the relationships of people that have endured each others’ imperfections and chosen to be with each other) can also become something greater than ourselves that we serve. In fact the very idea of serving something greater than ourselves is that in doing so we become willing to endure and even choose the hard or difficult experiences because we feel that the whole we serve is more important than our individual experience of pleasure or pain. In reality, I think that most humans desire a context that gives meaning to their struggles in such a way, in a way that calls them to endure and be resilient or strong such that the community is held together. I believe this is ultimately what letting go of the sense of betrayal is about; it’s about letting go of the notion that meeting our individual needs and expectations is the most important part of our relationships or communities.