The Mystery We Must Live Into
We are tapped on the shoulder, again and again, until one day, we turn around.
We turn around, but it’s less directional than that, because in the space of the infinite there is no up, down, right, or wrong.
We are asked just one question every moment, of every day – “How can you be awake to the mystery we must all live into?”
How can you be with each moment, each person, as they are – completely new? completely now?
How can you thread yourself through the myriad of stories that arise, to the other side of nothing – to truth.
It’s always been there. Beneath the dishes in the sink, beneath tomorrow. It lies hidden, beneath every “to-do” and holds close to every reason why.
This warm and knowing place is the home that unites us beyond race, borders, and beliefs. We are found here, in the place that we’ve never left, but ceaselessly attempt to return.
What if your plan doesn’t work out? What if you don’t become every dream you had when the world was an impossible place of endless possibilities. Life will un-spoil you. If you were lucky enough to come into this world believing the sky to be life, you will die knowing you are dirt.
We won’t always get our way, no matter how hard we try. The seat on the airplane won’t recline. The refrigerator, against all reason, will heat the food that needs to be discarded. The last egg, thoughtfully stowed away and saved for a breakfast will slip unceremoniously into the sink drain upon cracking.
But this is not what we are here for. Life will happen. The seasons do not hurry one another into the next, but summer always comes, no matter how brief. And even if the frost comes early and the fruit dies, life will go on, in it’s own way, in it’s own time. No matter how skilled you become in manifesting a desirable future, there will be traffic and heartbreak and dreams crushed by the reality of what is.
The beauty, is this job was not meant for you. You have assumed a role you cannot fill, a reality you cannot really articulate. It goes beyond the finite, the mind. And “figuring it all out” is the futile attempt to use a drawing of an ax to cut down a forest – the goal goes beyond the function of the tool itself. The finite cannot comprehend the infinite wholly. The finger is not the moon.
It’s much more simple. Dear one, you are here to live, each moment as it is. Each breath, you are here with every sense and every emotion – to feel everything.
Frustration, perhaps, is not over things that don’t go our way, or unmet expectations, but instead, is the distance felt between what we think we want and who we truly know ourselves to be.
In any moment, each of us, is exactly just as far as we’ve ever been and ever will be, to what we really long for. The access is now. It’s what is here, in this moment, right in front of us, right under our fingertips. The broken egg, the wasted food, the dirt.
Im at the precipice of myself again.
Another jagged cliff and I am blindfolded.
Ive been told by someone whom has never lied to me, that there is beautiful turquoise pool just below, and that the only way, the absolute only way – is to jump.
Trouble is, I’ve been crawling. For months now, maybe years, I’ve been crawling with bloodied knees and raw palms. I’ve been grasping at sand that slips between my fingers, my lungs- dry and burning.
Too, this same journey has led me to valleys of a thousand shades of green, to waterfalls that I’ve laid beneath to soothe my wounds and even once or twice- a garden of clouds that I’ve curled up in and almost forgot where I was and why I was here.
But none of that matters when you are at the cliff’s edge, when you feel every pore of your body gaping for oxygen because at this altitude – you either live or die.
“Never underestimate the desire to bolt” – are words I’ve recently heard. Words I need tattooed on my hand, I need tattooed on the part of me that clinches and retracts my heart like a vault- metal doors crashing together into sudden layers of impenetrable metal.
“You wont get in, and I wont come out!” I hiss, eyes wide and teeth tight. I know this place all to well. I know the dark and cold and I know how to keep just warm enough to survive here. I know how to window shop pretty thoughts of my future and how to candlelight all things that I “will become” – skinny, successful, happy, me in a future house, in a future smile, in a future life.
I hide here until its safe, or until Im pried open. Secretly and desperately I want to be pried open, I want my handsome prince to come and jaws-of-life me out of here because I’ve swallowed my own key.
Sometimes, the right alchemy of compassion and strength can wedge its way into the cracks, sometimes this is enough for me to trust that I can open one inch, maybe two, sometimes, on rare occasion this is enough for me to open completely.
In this space, sunlight hits my face as if for the first time and my insides illuminate. Every sense is activated, sounds, colors, life as I know it in the deepest part of me, is pulsing. This feeling is what it is jump blindly. This feeling is trust, this feeling is surrender in its most beautiful form.
And jumping is what we do when we stop resisting ourselves. The exhilaration is not the moment of feet hitting the water below, but is in the air – the transition from ground to not ground, from known to unknown, the sudden lightness we feel when just let go of every reason not to.
I want to massage her shoulders until she half collapses into herself, into me. I want to feel her breathe deep and watch her head fall back against my shoulder, neck open to the sky and all the expanse above – mouth open, eyes closed.
I want to crawl into jealousy and build a fire in the cave beneath caves beneath caves. I want to go into the vast underwater canyon of jealousy – what you see on her surface is so infinitesimally small in comparison. I want to write love poems on her inner walls and draw pictures of hearts and sunsets and planets.
I want jealousy to know she’s not alone. I want her to know that there is no “right way”, there is no “perfect”, there is just this – the moment and her relationship to it. We are either open or closed, we either accept or resist.
I want to brush jealousy’s hair. She needs so much self-love. She is calling for it in tears and screams, and completely crazy non-sensical thoughts and behavior. She often feels panicked. I want to giver her chamomile tea and a kitten and a sunny window-seat.
I want to put her to bed early and tell her to leave the dishes. I want to tell her ‘it is, and will, all be ok” I want to infiltrate her dreams and supplant every monster with flowers and chocolate.
Jealousy sometimes has a hard time speaking her truth. For this, I’ll give her a journal and a new pen. I’ll tell her to write everything out. Read it, and write it again. Write it backwards or upside down because words and emotions are flexible and sometimes they need to be bent in order to be seen.
I want to tell her, more than anything else, that she is loved, that she is love. Not in this flippant way the word has been used, but in the realest way, because there is nothing more real. On second thought, I won’t tell her she is loved at all. I will kiss her every morning and hold her every night. I will wrap my arms around her and just hold her, wanting nothing in return.
Jealousy feels empty. She feels like she has nothing to give. She doesn’t want to be so self-absorbed but she is one dimension, she doesn’t see outside her own field of vision no matter how you try to show her.
You don’t need to change jealousy, and I wouldn’t suggest trying. That will only make her defensive. She craves, though she might not always see it, to go deeper inside her own darkness. Every jealous thought is an invitation to explore more of herself and to ultimately love more of herself. Every contraction is an expansion on the other side if there is a willingness to be uncomfortable, vulnerable.
Jealousy eats fear at every meal but vulnerability is the only thing that satiates her. She rarely goes into her own garden to pick it though. She, like an addict, clings to fear and other accompanying feelings of unworthiness and unwantedness like a tree in a rising tide. It takes the risk, equatable in force to jumping off a cliff, to pull at the roots of what she is so afraid of and speak them honestly instead of blindly living off fear alone.
“For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.”
— Carl Sagan
There is an immensity to each moment. Bulging almost bursting with meaning and intention and everything past and future and yet so so so present.
There is something of the moment that takes us for granted. We open to it with wide eyes and the taste of hope in the back of our throats.
This feels like falling in love. In the moment, this moment, we are captured by the all-ness that is any and every moment if we breathe into it. If we simply allow, allow all of it.
This though, is scary. It reminds us, if only briefly, of our vastness. Of our almost conceivable nature of infinite. We want so much to touch this, to be so close that our lines become indistinguishable to that which is and always has been and forever, and just forever…but we’re also defined by things and words which have a hardness, an innate construction which gives us a purpose that part of us is unwilling to surrender.
If only we knew we were always home instead of trying to get there. As Ram Das said “We are all just walking each other home”. Even more so, we are always reminding each other that we never left. That we never can leave. That the nest we continue to jump from to find our ever evolving wings, that this nest can never be anywhere but with us, within us.
Take nothing personally, even love. It’s not “ours” to give or receive. It is just what is. Beyond all other layers. Love is an invitation, over and over, to tap into the source that is “us”, has always been “us” and will far outlive “us”. It connects us to that mysterious truth of “infinity” which our minds will never grasp and our hearts will always strive to hold.
Guilt and selfishness are linked like railroad boxcars. Our idea of what it is to be “selfish” in front, followed closely and awkwardly by “guilt”, uncomfortably crashing into each other around every turn. So much so, it’s hard to know selfishness without its counterpart. Ive recently been on a particularly winding road with these two- making decisions for my life that others would, and have, deemed “selfish”. Never wanting to hurt anyone but also knowing that I wasn’t happy, and that my unhappiness was hurting those I loved more than the risk it took to find it, to come back to myself.
One expression of guilt is the distance between what you are doing and what you feel you should be doing. It is also the expression of wanting something we feel we are undeserving of having. Either way, guilt wants us to hide. It wants us to defend/ tuck tail and run. The only way to really utilize this emotion, or any for that matter, is to face it head on and look at whatever subject matter it’s hitched to (ie. the idea of “selfishness” or rather my “wants” being at odds with what I think I “should want” or “should be doing”) On my way down one particularly slippery self-deprecating slope, I stopped myself half-way down and asked “What does selfishness really mean?” Not really knowing, I turned Google:
adjective self·ish \ˈsel-fish\
I believe we need a new definition. We need to reclaim this word from the collapse of it with “inconsideration” (of which this definition really speaks, thus why it is so easy to attach it to “guilt”), and redefine what it really means to be selfish.
From my non-identification with this definition, I had a revelation- I AM selfish. But not in this way. Instead, in a way that is to act from a place of knowing my true preference and having my actions extend from there. From knowing and honoring my true self in any given moment.
In truth, we are most considerate when we are acting selfishly. One of the greatest gifts we offer one another is to allow each other to choose authentically. If we operate from selfishness rather than doing what we think we should do, we give each other an opportunity to also choose. This said, you have to own and make known your authentic preference to enable others to do the same.
The best option is always a win-win and a win-win is only possible from a space of authentic selfishness on both ends, in this way, everything is a win-win, every time.
I believe it’s much harder to be selfish than to appease or placate. We are taught in our culture from a very young age to be responsible for each other’s feelings/experiences. As kids, we are told. “You hurt him/her!, say you’re sorry! go to timeout,etc” We are taught to be more responsible to the emotions and experiences of others, than ourselves. One of the most challenging and most empowering ways to live, is in full responsibility for your own experience. This includes your emotions, your thoughts and your life, as a whole. When you are responsible for your experience, you have all the power to change it and create anew.
We come into the world as babies and children knowing this and intrinsically living this selfishness, you’ve seen how kids are the centers of their own worlds. However, we are conditioned out of this early on only to come back it in fits-and-spurts throughout our life. Regardless, our authentic selfishness is default. And most, if not all of our struggles in life come from resisting what it is we want with what it is we feel we deserve or what we “should do”.
Authentic selfishness is ultimately selflessness. When we operate from our own true preferences and give up “looking good” or “being right”, we ultimately drop the “self”, the idea of who we are and what we should be doing. By the very nature of this we give others a permission slip to do the same.
The mind will wrestle with this concept, so it’s better to perhaps explore this through feeling. Think of it this way, do you want your husband/wife, friend, anybody doing anything for you you that they really don’t want to be doing? No, you don’t. It doesn’t feel good. Do you want to do anything for anyone else that you really aren’t inspired to do? No. Again, it doesn’t feel good to do. So you have three options: do it anyway (wrong answer), don’t do it (right answer), or find a way to be inspired to do it and then do it out of inspiration, out of inspired action (most “kinetic” answer- this is where we grow).
There is a distinct and powerful difference between action and inspired action. Action lends to more of the same, think cog-in-a-wheel, just enough to keep the same thing already in motion, in motion. Inspired action, moves mountains, parts seas, creates from nothing, something. The greatest inventors and heroes of history were always always always operating from inspired action.
You might be thinking, “what about people of a lower socio-economic status? what about other species? what about the environment?” It’s my belief that these issues and all others will only change by those individuals operating from selfish, inspired action. From a place where they love the feeling it gives them to donate money, or help first-hand, or create a system to support the positive transformation of these current circumstances.
Those who continue to post to Facebook their personal diatribes of the horrors of our humanity towards these or other issues, only promote more of the same. The quote “What you resist, persists” is as relevant as “like attracts like”. Be the model of what you want for the world and do it because it feels good. Do it because you are inspired. This is the only way to make a real, powerful, and lasting difference.
Do everything because you want to. Do everything because it feels good to do, and do nothing that doesn’t. Live courageously from this beautiful selfish nature that we are. What if you weren’t responsible for other people’s experiences? Guilt is perhaps the heaviest feeling we carry and many of us carry it on our shoulders and around our necks like a lead scarf- heavy and suffocating. What if you could drop this? I ask that you try it, just for a day. If you don’t like it, you can always pick it back up and wear it again, but for a day, be you. Be just you in the world, doing you. Do what you want, when you want, with no other reason then because it feels good to do.
Some of you might have kids, as I do. This can be particularly challenging to practice with children, because there is no other relationship,except maybe caring for an elderly parent, that requires you to do for someone before yourself all. the. time. I know this is why I had kids, to practice in the most unselfish way, how to be, completely selfish. This is growth, this is soul stretching.
These relationships with dependents ask us to come into inspired action much of the time, to choose something that initially might be unappealing because the true benefit of our action is what we’re present to. This is the blessing that kids afford. For no one else would we be willing to practice this as diligently as for these little people. If you make breakfast and taxi to school, take to practices, and help with homework from inspired action, your kids will feel it. Because a synonym to inspired action is love and another is presence. When you operate from the heart, from love and presence, it is felt deep and visceral. This is the stuff the best memories are made of.
You being an example of “doing you” as I like to call it, inspires and gives permission for others to do their own lives. Authentic selfishness is really about living your truth and being fully responsible for your own life. We lead and learn by example. Do you. Let others do themselves. Take nothing personally. And forget the rest.