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.

x + y =

There are some things you just can’t quantify- creativity, balance, sense of self, to name a few. We cannot quantify emotion, we cannot quantify joy or fulfillment or apathy. We cannot quantify the meat of what makes us, us at any given moment.

Unlike days, or years, or the GPS of our external environment, our internal environment has no laws or boundaries. It is in reckless rebellion to structure and order.

The stuff that matters live like nomads in the jungle of our souls and who are we to say where the boundaries are? Where one country, one emotion, begins and where another ends?

I feel like I am learning how to be alone again. Maybe it’s that im learning how to accept myself, as me, right now.

Would’nt it be easy if “right now” just didnt change? But that is the illusion, that there is any definition of right now. Right now can only exist in the framework of there being a NOT right now. But we know that doesn’t exist. There will never be a not right now, there will never be a right now, there will just be this element, this essence of our experience at any given quantifiable breath, that we will try to box into a singular moment.

We elude ourselves.We dance between ourselves, we come up for air from ourselves. But we photo (3)will always be sandwiched and sometimes whiplashed-by this experience and trying to describe this experience.

I think that’s where poetry comes in. Poetry IS the threshold. Poetry is NOT the experience, and our descriptors in words and syntax and sounds are only sign posts.  But poetry is the most gallant effort our hearts make at self reflection, or this insatiable urge to quantify self.

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.
~

~

The Space Between

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In ancient traditions from around the world there are teachings upon teachings of ways to quiet the mind, to hear the “inner voice”. There is a notion that in absence, exists everything we are outwardly seeking.

I’ve come to believe that opposed to leading a life in complete austerity, there is use in culling through the noise, being acutely aware of each note and it’s particular pitch.  Just as a sad song played beautifully, can bring joy, so can life surprise and inspire us to hear each new song with a more well-trained ear.

It’s just that more often than not we forget there is music even playing. The monotony becomes monotone, it becomes white noise and the space between, unrecognizable. And what if life is just this? What if we have it all backwards and we need to learn to listen for the silence not the sounds?

What if we asked each other,  “What do you hear when you’re not hearing? What do you feel when you’re not feeling? and what do you ultimately seek when you’re not seeking?”