Selfish

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:

selfish

adjective self·ish \ˈsel-fish\

: having or showing concern only for yourself and not for the needs or feelings of other people

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”.

me and youAuthentic 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.

You Are a Verb

Life is goddamn messy and beautiful and most of all it just is.

It isn’t how we planned it. It doesn’t work out according to our best script with the best cast and most idyllic setting. It happens how it does, and as cliche as it sounds- exactly as it should.

Would I take anything back? Do I have any regrets? Only that in any moment I was blinded by my idea of how it should be, obscuring the absolute perfection of how it was, how it all is.

At any given moment we are given a choice- to be in the moment or be out of it. Maybe more correctly, to be aware of the perfection of all things past and open to all things future and at the same time deeply moved by the momentum of the present, or—to not be. To be stuck.

To be stuck in the way we imagined it should have been, the way we thought it should go, the way it didnt. Fuck that. Fuck all of the past preconceptions of who you thought you were. Like the idea of  “love”, “relationship”, “family”, the idea of “how life should have gone”. What is life if it doesn’t rock you? What is life if it doesn’t slip the foundation out from under you? Only to remind you that the foundation wasn’t real to begin with.

11665454_10206280159717143_6675403578134118180_nGravity is an illusion. We’re all just floating, maybe our feet are seemingly planted on this earth for this momentary time we inhabit it, but life, all of it, all of the vastness of life from single-celled bacteria to every plant and every animal that ever was and ever will be—is floating. We are in space, we are of space. And the most of all that we are,  and all that we’re in, we do not know. We must float in the trust of now.

And what is trust, but to be open? and what is now, but everything and nothing and beyond the capacity that our linear minds can comprehend. What would we be up to if we weren’t drawing this picture as we were living it.

I dont know what is next. I know I am on this airplane and I can feel the next few steps pulling me from my center. I feel packing, and storing my belongings, I feel Boulder, I feel. And maybe that’s it too. Where is there the most feeling? If feeling is energy, like all things are, where is it most concentrated. Move into that, open into that, feel into the feeling that preceded your feeling. Match it, meet yourself. You’re already there.

We will die. We are mortal. But only in so much as we can conceive of this life. Only in so much that we define ourselves by the boundaries of our skin. We are beyond it. Just as time. Just as space. Just as anything that ever was and ever will be. We are looking for that. I see it in the eyes of people looking into the eyes of myself, I see the fire of their soul speaking a language of presence. Momentary, often fleeting, completely beautiful presence. I see it, I feel it, I want nothing more than to sink deeper into it.

Who are we when we are no more? I don’t want my legacy as a headstone. My epitaph should be a spark that when remembered creates remembrance. Let me be a remembrance that there is nothing that wasn’t before and there will be nothing that never was. Let me be a remembrance of self in the purest form that pulls you from your core and slowly surely smoothes the jagged rocks of identity of separate into the roundness of is. Let my spark be creation itself, let my spark be the language that language cannot touch but shortens the distance. Let me be the synapse. Let me be the synapse.

This is the promise I make to myself- I promise to move with you. I promise to release hold of how it “should have gone” to embrace how it’s going. I release you from guilt. I release you from suffering. Those are just a reminder that you are not aware of the perfection of what is. What is. Be with what is.

You are not your life, but you are here to live it. You are not your life, but you are here to LIVE it. YOU are NOT your life, but you are here to LIVE it.

Do you understand that? Can you appreciate the difference. The subtle but magnificent difference?

You are NOT your life. You are NOT a sum of the parts. YOU are not your past. YOU are not your future. YOU ARE HERE TO LIVE IT. The you is the music in creation, the dance in motion, not the instrument, not the dancer.  The real “you” is a verb not a noun.

“You” cease to exist each time there is a reflection of “you”. Then “you” are gone. You are only here, only palpable when there is no “me”, “I”, this, that, other, the pronouns are you’re cue that you are not “you”. The pronouns are your cue that you are not you.

So yes. It’s simple: be. here. now. But still, be where you are,  just be honest and be aware. Because sometimes you will have to take yourself to another place in order to come through another door into yourself. We’re all really just existing as a hall of mirrors. Our lives, our soul’s journey, one hallway to the next.

Choice, Challenge and Opportunity

Challenge and opportunity are the same thing through a different lens. Its like a room, and walking into a darkened room and standing there, or turning on the light. Same room, different experience.

I was walking the beach today and passing person after person. Just taking them in through my eyes, and wanting to see if I could maybe understand from the way they smiled, made eye contact, or did not- what was going on in their worlds. We all have our own worlds, and I’m willing to speculate that 9 times out of 10 someone is going through a challenge of some kind. Maybe that is it, maybe the challenge is there at first for us to be able to see the opportunity, and it’s this opportunity that once realized, catapults us into the next phase of life, with a greater ability to live it completely.

Maybe challenge is like a Magic Eye, where at first its all fuzzy and can be overwhelmingly IMG_6411frustrating. I remember sitting with pages that I just could never get, putting the book down and opening it again and again trying to see what was behind  the blurred dots. Opportunity is when this all comes together. Suddenly the eyes readjust, and that is when our little brains line up with the expanse of our hearts and stop trying to force the picture, but allow it to come into focus. Wasn’t that how Magic Eye was done too? You squint too hard and you just narrow your view, contract the picture. You have to relax, open, and soften your eyes. Then it comes into clear view. Magic. 

I heard recently that people travel not to experience a new place, but really it’s to experience themselves in a new place. We all want to be taken deeper into ourselves, fall in love more fully with ourselves. When we are in a state of complete in-loveness with who we are, where is there to go? What is there to do? This is what happens when challenge becomes opportunity.

Sometimes it’s not that clear, sometimes that light switch in the darkened room is not visible and sometimes we have to read the brail of our lives with the lightest touch of fingertips instead of seeing it with opened eyes. We often have to feel our way through the muck, the complexity, the challenge. But here’s where simplifying comes in. We make small choices to effect big changes. Sometimes, no, most times, we don’t have the slightest clue what our small choices will lead to in terms of big life changes. Think children, think new jobs, think new moves, think death.

The way we make small choices is the same way we make big ones- one choice at a time. If you have two options, great. If you have an infinite number of options, even better- while this makes things potentially more “challenging”, it’s also indicative of the open nature of your mind.

Take all of the choices and then take the highest road, you know which one this is. Or just make a choice and adjust from there. There’s no wrong choice. There’s just life, and adjusting to life. Whichever choice you make will bring you another challenge and another opportunity. And that’s the point. Its not to make choices to avoid challenges, it’s turning challenges into opportunities…again and again and again. Its becoming more proficient in the dark, and learning to read brail more quickly and learning how, maybe someday, to have night vision.

Tyler

I miss him. I’m sure I always will. He is a part of me, a part of me that has stood the test of time- a stone monument of my heart that I look to when I forget who I am or what I live for.  He reminds me of love in it’s purest form before expectations, and heartbreak, and walls and boobytraps were erected in the space only love should be.

He reminds me of what it was to feel alive, which is perhaps the most ironic gift of all. He takes me back to the sweet possibility of youth, 1520599_443631512433113_1206441568_nand all of the dreams I dreamed.

Tyler, my first love, my guardian light, my forever friend, I feel you with me, now and always.

Thank you for bringing me back to me, again and again. The catharsis of tears that I so often have to lure out from hidden cavities within myself, are always waiting patiently at the doorstep of your name.

Thank you for allowing me to feel the full spectrum of love, from it’s infancy to its maturity and thank you for giving me one of the greatest lessons I’m still learning- how to love and let go, and keep loving. How to give into the pain when I want none of it, and how to have nothing left to ask of you and only love to give.

Simplify

I’ve been thinking. In general, just thinking and my mind chasing its own tail, racing around itself on possible choices and the paths those possible choices would create. While in part choice equals freedom, it also can equal being completely arrested by the potentials that “choice” represents.

simplify

I find solace from the chaos of my mind in small acts of relative unimportance.

In cleaning my office, organizing my kids’ artwork, making food for the week. Being decisive in small ways that amount to a larger tangible payoff when combined.

This too, seems to be the illusion of future;  that there is any one choice that supersedes any other. Maybe what you have for lunch is as important as whom you marry. Maybe only because we are equally as guided in both situations and they hold equally as much weight in the unfolding of our futures. They both matter. And they both do not.

I believe we are here to unfurl from the tightness of attachments- to open. To open, open and open more. Each “choice” big or infinitesimally small being a doorway to opening. I think that ultimately this opening is leading us to be free from the attachment of our experience of identity and “reality” itself.  We are thrust continuously into the walls of our own creation only to realize we can reach right through them.

When I feel powerless by the exhaustion of choice I’ve made a habit of slowing down and simplifying. Of cleaning, weeding, and doing the little things that I can experience a direct result from completing. I think it settles the nerves to feel in control, as illusory as this is and as ever evolving as the to-do’s are, we need to feel the reigns between our fingers at times,  in order to release ourselves into the momentum of the galloping horse.

Sunflowers and Ivy

My son asks, “Why is the sunflower sad?” Somehow already knowing that when we pluck the IMG_5157pretty things we love and reinvent them in a vase, a container, a set of definitions- they are already dead.

It is so much more about what we don’t know, rather than what we do. When we “don’t know” we are vulnerable but we are also free- this quality is the radiance of youth.

Our culture is founded so strongly on the attainment of knowledge of knowing and understanding more and more and more. We climb the ladder of knowledge that is strangled in the  ivy of “success”, “accomplishment”, “self worth”. Only to look down periodically at a beautiful landscape of billion colors that is getting farther and farther away all the while the air is getting thinner and thinner where we are headed.

And still too, this is a juxtaposition. The more we know the less free we are to create in some ways. And, at the same time,  words and the innate defining of our lives- gives shape to this amorphous experience of who we are and how we fit into the world within us that becomes this world around us.

Threshold

Threshold,

A place where the past is complete, but the future hasn’t yet begun.971179_695906810435325_1032533549_n

Between two beautiful worlds exists a world all it’s own. A reminder, that there is nowhere to go, there is no final destination, just chapters.

I’ve come upon an empty page and all I want is to draw myself naked in the middle of a turquoise ocean, floating, face to the sky, warmth above and cool beneath. 

I’m trusting,

that the right combination of salt and H2O will keep me at the surface if I breathe just right. I’ll focus on that.  In and out, simple, right?

These words that want to crash from my fingers and the song that keeps escaping from my lips.

 I must allow all of this.

Even if there is no obvious next step. Even if it’s one precipice after the next. Perhaps these edges are the truth.

Each threshold asks us to dive deeper into now. It asks us to give up the past and the future and do nothing less but drop to our knees and offer up both empty palms.

So we can do nothing less but fill our eyes with new light and our hearts with the pulse of this. very. moment.

Our minds- asked to be empty and bold. And in the grace of letting it go say, “I do not know. I do not know”

Challenging the Status Quo 101

I think we’ve outgrown the idea that challenging the status quo is wearing spiked collars, dying our hair blue, or getting our tongues pierced.

whyThe real status quo we are being asked to challenge is our beliefs. The ones we don’t even consciously know why we hold. The question “why?” is perhaps our best tool for this.  That single question is the flashlight into the dark expanse of our own belief system, it is what wedges us from the belief we hold and asks us to look at ourselves from a wider lens.

If our beliefs create our reality, we owe it to ourselves to be curious. Each time we use a word such as “right/wrong”, “good/bad”, “acceptable/unacceptable”,“normal/weird”,  we have the opportunity to peel back a layer or two (or twelve) and see what is really there. These adjectives are all too often packing paper to our beliefs, keeping them insulated from who we’ve become.

What if each time we heard our own voice respond in one of these words, we immediately followed with “why?” and allow ourselves to be with whatever discomfort arrises?

As Neil Donald Walsch says, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”  Sometimes we collapse comfort into complacency and “why?” is our opportunity to excavate our truth from the rubble of cultural norms, out-dated patterns and disjointed beliefs.  When we keep ourselves on our own toes with an open mind, we allow ourselves to evolve. Maybe a belief we held at one time doesn’t quite fit who we are now. Life may be happening outside of us but our aliveness is completely up to us. The more awake we are to our choices and why we choose them, the more alive we are, every. single. moment.

For My Son

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2014/11/for-my-son/

IMG_2146My son, with eyes as wide as a midnight sky.

I want him to always ask “why?”

Even when he knows the answer, I want him to ask “why” again.

Because each “why” should lead to another until his x lines up with the all the “whys” and he finds the ordinate of belief and reason—the point of infinite depth, muscle to soul cohesion.

When he goes to school, I don’t care for him to learn about dead presidents and wars upon wars.

I want his desk to be bare feet on wet dirt and his pencil, a shovel.

The only test that matters I’ll tell him, is this: How far are you at any moment from who you really are?

If you don’t know, stop, breathe, go slow, remember, you are never that far.

And if you ever feel lost, I’ll remind him, of his personal compass––his own two hands.

I want him to wear his heart not on his sleeve but the center of his palms. So each time he holds anything, it’s from the bottom of his heart. I’ll say:

“This is a good place to start. Do everything out of love. Do everything out of love.”

When you come to a fork in the road and you don’t know which way to go.

Take the high, because honey, if there’s one thing I know about the low—it’s that you reap what you sow.

My son says mom, I love you more than chocolate bagels with cloud sprinkles. And I say, I love you all the way to Jupiter and back down, but slow like rain returning to the ocean.

Because I want him to feel life and love—but in slow motion.

If I have I one wish for you it’s that your heart just keeps expanding and when the wind blows hard you don’t fall, just lean—because you’re rooted, not just standing.

You see, there’s a gear and it’s for landing but be sure only to use it when necessary because otherwise, high above the trees, you see the panoramic view. You’ll see the mountains to the sea and all the inlets and valleys in between.

And these valleys you should walk on moonless nights.

To know the depth of your inner being, that is your birthright.

And the man you’ll be when you walk through will give you a whole new sense of the saying “be” not “do.”

When you face yourself head-on there’s no need to ever hide.

There’s no need to “play it cool” no place for empty pride.

And remember take this all, take this all in stride.
Life can be a series of disappointments and getting over disappointments.

It can also be a dance, danced backwards and a song where every note is just a little off.

But your job is not to make a perfect life but to fully own an imperfect one. 

Your job baby, is when the monsters come out of your closet, not to run, not to go out and buy a gun but to learn that this life is to be lived, not won.
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