Browsed by
Category: Musings of a Mystic

Ask Me

Ask Me

Ask Me

Some time when the river is ice ask me

mistakes I have made. Ask me whether

what I have done is my life. Others

have come in their slow way into

my thought, and some have tried to help

or to hurt: ask me what difference

their strongest love or hate has made.


I will listen to what you say.

You and I can turn and look

at the silent river and wait. We know

the current is there, hidden; and there

are comings and goings from miles away

that hold the stillness exactly before us.

What the river says, that is what I say.

   

William Stafford

 

We all have our secrets, if someone tells you differently they are selling a mistruth of the highest order. Each person harbors shadows and darkness that linger among the embers of the light. It is because of these shadows one can see how extremely fragile we are. This life is living as if a delicate flower waiting to bloom yet instead choosing to close off out of fear and a need for self protection. No one leaves this world unscathed, in fact we are all marred by missteps, regrets and an underlying sadness for what we had hoped life to be.

 

Nothing speaks more beautiful to the irony of this condition than William Stafford’s Ask Me. He states, “Some time when the river is ice ask me mistakes I have made. Ask me whether what I have done is my life.” Having always cherished time spent hearing others stories and words of wisdom, it is difficult to comprehend that I too have a plethora of life experiences, yet feel less than worthy of imparting any wisdom earned onto others. Simply put, I am still trying to figure it all out and am doubtful that I will ever have complete understanding. Can it be possible that life continues to ramble along leading one further into the clouded beneath of uncertainty and fear? Is the only true meaning of it all persevering regardless of uncertainty?

 

“You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.”

― Pema Chödrön

 

I am not alone in holding illusions and fantasies of what living a storied life entails. The house with a picket fence, well behaved children excelling at everything they undertake, a job that is both satisfying and financially rewarding, physical health the sustains throughout the years and love. All possible scenarios but not always accomplished in the same stride as others. The frustration of delays, detours or missteps along the way can lead one to doubt what if anything holds meaning and true value in the wells of our soul. What if anything matters at the end of days?

 

As a young girl I pictured myself experiencing a great love affair with someone that held my heart just as I held his. This love would know me from my earliest of days until my ultimate departure from this world, a familiarity that would be both comforting and enduring. As fate would have it, this was not in the cards for me. I did in fact have a long marriage that proved to be barren of love and appreciation.  A dear friend once told me that nothing is more painful than indifference and this did, most sadly, prove to be true. I made myself small for two decades of my life and for that I harbor deep regret. Stafford’s line, “ask me what difference their strongest love or hate has made” speaks to me like no other. Hate can be as transformative as a powerful love in ways that reverberate throughout a body and soul. Hate and indifference block energy, creating barriers that can only be overcome with much time and self work. Pains such as these will be worn for as long as the river runs deep.

 

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”

― Gautama Buddha

 

Staying with the metaphor of a river,  I can review  my life and see that I continue to flow whether under the ice, in the depths or on the surface. It is never a matter of time standing still but rather a rushing forth of water the proceeds all else. Water can move mountains and so too can time. In fact, the only constant I see thus far is the march of time. Stafford continues with, “and there are comings and goings from miles away that hold the stillness exactly before us.” What may seem like only the distance from one side of the bed to the other or one chair among many in an open room, is an acute representation of stillness often left unspoken. Distance is palpable even if only a few feet when defined by emotional numbness.

 

One of my main regrets is remaining in this space, this stillness, this separateness far too long. I am imperfect as are all others, yet I now choose to stand and speak my voice regardless of imperfections. If only I had known this a few decades ago, my river may have represented a much gentler flow with far less rapids and undertows. One might say however, that without all of those rapids I would never have reached this point of letting go. This may be true and as Stafford says in completion, “What the river says, that is what I say”. Here is to many more years of gently floating down the river of life, observing, learning and living.

Geography of a Life

Geography of a Life

 

“Your soul knows the geography of your destiny. Your soul alone has the map of your future, therefore you can trust this indirect, oblique side of yourself. If you do, it will take you where you need to go, but more important it will teach you a kindness of rhythm in your journey.”

― John O’Donohue

 

Have you ever looked at an old map and wondered how the cartographer viewed the world so differently than what is known to be true today? It was not very long ago when scientists believed the earth to be flat. As a lifelong student of geography, I have always been fascinated by this historical lens into human nature.  Reading and even touching old maps allows for a certain connection to past ideas along with a knowing that all things are relative with time.

 

Expanding on this, I find the field of astrophysics to be absolutely mind blowing. Framing all that ever was and all that will ever be within a set of scientific laws is an impossible task. Those who work in this field seem to have a particular ability to blur and bend the lines of this reality in the most creative of ways. Science and mysticism are kindred spirits, both resting on the unknown rather than the known. Highly speculative and ever evolving, the universe is akin to a good book daring one to read, yet never allowing the reader to reach the final chapter. A constant thirst for knowledge, that given the current information, can never be quenched.

 

“For millions of years, an ancient conversation has continued between the chorus of the ocean and the silence of the stone.”

―John O’Donohue , Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

 

Because of this similarity it is possible to state with certainty that mysticism inhabits universal curiosity in a way that parallels science. Asking “what if?” and “why not?” echoes the constant state of questioning that is required of a seeker. Just as one ideology has been discovered and explored, another presents that speaks to the soul in a way that begs for attention. To some this may seem indecisive, but this could not be further from the truth. Mysticism allows for a constant push and pull of ideas without prejudice. Therefore beauty lies within the questions, not the answers.

 

With all of this being so, the map of ones life will vary widely from all others. There is no true way to a specific destination, but rather a multitude of possible roads that will lead to the same end. My geography may look much different from a friend or loved one. It is never for me to compare, but to focus on my unique map by following the directions therein. If I spend my days comparing and allowing the voice of the critic to rear its ugly head, I would be ignoring all that has been provided by spirit. The truth being that the geography of my physical body will change with age and eventually transform to the next. With patience and even some grace, my spiritual geography will also transform into exactly what is meant for me.

 

“Your body is your clay home; your body is the only home that you have in this universe. It is in and through your body that your soul becomes visible and real for you. Your body is the home of your soul on earth.”

― John O’Donohue

 

Just as a maps paper fades becoming yellow and frayed, so too does our past. The sharpness of past experiences should never remain brightly in the forefront but rather muted and distant, referenced only as a tool and not a crutch. Holding to the past will only delay the inevitable change in direction that is expected during moments of great transformation. Holding will delay the drawing of a new map and all the wonderful experiences that encompass the letting go of what no longer serves.

 

Embrace your unique geography, both inside and out. You are a beautiful child of the universe and exactly as you should be at this point. Learn to sit in this place knowing that more is yet to be discovered on the grand tapestry of life. Take heart in the roughness and discomfort and face each new day with interest and curiosity. One day, you will acknowledge all the detours and obstacles that you traversed and stand in awe of the beautiful work of art you have become.

 

Between and Beyond the Stardust

Between and Beyond the Stardust

Sunset

Slowly the west reaches for clothes of new colors

which it passes to a row of ancient trees.

You look, and soon these two worlds both leave you

one part climbs toward heaven, one sinks to earth.

leaving you, not really belonging to either,

not so hopelessly dark as that house that is silent,

not so unswervingly given to the eternal as that thing

that turns to a star each night and climbs–

leaving you (it is impossible to untangle the threads)

your own life, timid and standing high and growing,

so that, sometimes blocked in, sometimes reaching out,

one moment your life is a stone in you, and the next, a star.

-Rainer Maria Rilke

 

What does it mean to be human? We live a paradoxical condition in which we exist between two worlds. Just as the earth has cycles, so too does our life. We experience day and night, sadness and joy, fear and courage and darkness and light. Never one to dwell in one condition alone, I dance across the invisible barrier between and feel the pulse of this oneness. Setting aside absolutes requires an acknowledgement of this paradox with a comfort sitting in the unknowns of this same revelation.

 

We are all meant to live this human experience filled with silent houses and heavy stones all the while setting our intention toward the stars. It is only with this intention that we are able to float above adversity, leaning into both the darkness and light while claiming none.

 

Nothing is permanent. Just as Rilke writes, “Slowly the west reaches for clothes of new colors” the night turns to day and “one part climbs toward heaven, one sinks to earth.” No single experience remains. The beautiful moments in which a child is born are blurred by the many that follow in raising that child. The quiet and intensely beautiful connection of making love with a soulmate is jolted away by the commitments of a busy day. The memory of holding the hand of a loved one as they pass transforms to an acute feeling of separateness with two physical bodies now one.

 

Wandering the earth awake, I refuse to be claimed by any one disposition. Rather than walking on either side of a flowing spring, I prefer to walk down the middle with playful waves nipping at my ankles and murky depths below. It is only in this between I feel most like myself. Never one to find any particular identity that fits, I prefer to look to the stars even when my feet are firmly planted on the ground. The unrest that accompanies me is never far behind and the disappointment in my flawed humanness is sometimes too much to bear.

 

Rilke often speaks of this between expressing a longing that persists. I am grateful in finding his poems, each word speaking to my restless soul and lifting me up when all else seems an illusion. When my final moment arrives and I am moving toward the stars, I will gladly release the cords of connection to this place and fly freely to the next. It is only among the stardust and embers of the ancient that peaceful hearts resides. It is only in giving up the repeat of a single sunset that one captures the universe.

 

 

 

 

 

The Heartbeat of the Soil

The Heartbeat of the Soil

 

Be With Those Who Help Your Being

 

Be with those who help your being.

Don’t sit with indifferent people, whose breath

comes cold out of their mouths.

Not these visible forms, your work is deeper.

 

A chunk of dirt thrown in the air breaks to pieces.

If you don’t try to fly,

and so break yourself apart,

you will be broken open by death,

when it’s too late for all you could become.

 

Leaves get yellow. The tree puts out fresh roots

and makes them green.

Why are you so content with a love that turns you yellow?

   

Mewlana Jalaluddin Rumi

 

After having a dream that refused to leave me for days, I became frustrated with the repeated imagery and confusion about possible meaning. Aware that a dream such as this lingers as a token of importance, I still wanted the imagery to abate if only for awhile. This dream was so stubborn, it quickly became clear this was not a typical downloading of data that often accompanies a deep sleep but an opportunity to wake up and take note. The time had come to take out the proverbial notepad and start writing, regardless of potential. There was no rationalizing this task away, only the need for analysis and a way to place all discoveries within the confines of my current situation.

 

In this dream, I found myself lying on a soft blanket of soil while looking up at a very formidable tree; the kind of tree that stretches endlessly into the heavens and seems to brush the stars with its uppermost branches. As I reclined in a peaceful repose, I noticed the rays of the sun kissing the very top of the tree and skirting in and out of the various branches and leaves. It was a mesmerizing display of light that traveled at breakneck speed around the bulk of the tree.

 

“To be poor and be without trees, is to be the most starved human being in the world. To be poor and have trees, is to be completely rich in ways that money can never buy.”

― Clarissa Pinkola Estés,

 

For reasons unknown, I became aware this very same highway of light wrapping the length of the tree was in fact me. My spirit, being an energy that is free and boundless, was dancing along with the life system of the tree. I watched as this light show continued and marveled at the fact that I could be a part of an amazingly complex ecosystem in ways in which I could never have believed.

 

Moments later, the blanket of soft soil seemed to close in and become more tangible. With an element of fear, I realized I was not on top of the soil, but a part of it. Being of the soil meant I was underground and a part of the complex roots and superhighway of light connecting with the sky. Fear was replaced by a calm sensation of oneness with all else: the universe, sky, sun and this very tree with it’s steadfast roots. I was everything and everywhere, but at the same time small as a grain of soil. In this state, I was able to hear the heartbeat of the entire system in which I was a part of. I danced with a constant rhythm of energy swirling around and tangibly participated in the life cycle of this tree via a rhythmic heartbeat giving way to all else.

 

As magical as this all was, I could not resist reliving this experience as the days passed. We all have the divine spark within, just as the complex energy system the tree inhabited. This spark creates a magical and connected superhighway of energy that pulsates with life force.  If I recognize this spark in another they too can recognize it within me, including all that is known and unknown in this discovery. I must make an effort to quiet the noise in my life in order to experience the mystery of this connectivity each and every day no matter how mundane the tasks presented to me may be.

 

A monk asked Zhaozhou, “What is the living meaning of Zen?.”   

Zhaozhou said, “The oak tree in the courtyard.”

–  Case 37 from the Mumonkan (Wumenguan) Collection of Zen Koans

 

Nothing else seemed to matter in this state. Not the stress from work, people that had been less than kind, illness, nothing. All that mattered was connection with everything around me.  Believing the in all matters like calls out to like, it moves me to seek others that have this same sensibility. This has nothing to do with external worldly roles, rather a knowing that the soul next to me is a seeker such as myself. A seeker is one that asks questions, sees the light in others regardless of outside packaging and looks for beauty in all circumstance. I know that I must try to find this connection in a world that is closed off to interpersonal connection, compassionate attention and even personal touch.

I will not meet this challenge simply by sitting under a tree and feeling universal energy. No, the only way to find this other is by living a full life among the weeds and thorns. In the process of living this very messy life, my path will undoubtedly cross with those whom I seek. Each time I find another who has the heartbeat of the soil within, I feel a moment of recognition that says without words “I see you”. I enjoy this immensely and cherish it whenever and wherever it may approach. Seek out those that speak to you beyond the daily particulars of life. Once found, hold on and honor the spark that shines brightly in the being of another. This very spark is what lies within you and will continue to burn brightly after having connected with another.

 

One Day At A Time

One Day At A Time

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

-Robert Frost

 

The holidays are a time of relaxation, family and freedom from a restrictive daily schedule. As we near the end of this year and stand on the precipice of the new, I find myself already thinking about the inevitable return to work and the bustle of a workday.  As a result, I find it difficult to live in the moment. I start to go over my to-do list and answer emails that have not even been received. Unfortunately, this forward thinking is difficult to turn off and I find myself strategizing everything. This continues to the point at which I beg my mind to turn off this constant internal dialogue, craving even a few moments of the elusive relaxation and freedom that comes with the break.

 

One single day, that is all we are ever promised. Tomorrow is just a dream and nothing is guaranteed. I struggle with this concept at times. As a planner I am often a few steps ahead of the curve, analyzing and coming up with necessary solutions. While this skill is helpful in some areas of life, it can be problematic when trying to fully embrace the moment. Reading Robert Frost’s poem brings to mind how fleeting life can be. If I blink by resisting the now, I might miss something meaningful and deeply regret it.

 

“Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.”

― Henri J.M. Nouwen

 

What I have come to understand is that we must strive to find the “holiday” in everyday. I certainly have not mastered this skill but I continue to recommit to the idea. Each day that I wake up and see a new sunrise is a blessing. There is never any need for a special occasion to remember this; rather the notion of finding joy in small moments becomes a daily goal. Be it the return to work with a warm greeting from a colleague, the hug from a loved one that will not be seen for some time or feeling the sun on my face as I take a solitary walk at dawn. All are joyous moments regardless of the occasion.

“If I did not simply live from one moment to another, it would be impossible for me to be patient, but I only look at the present, I forget the past, and I take good care not to forestall the future.”

St. Therese of Lisieux

 

As one that does not believe in new years resolutions, I can say with certainty that I will put more emphasis on the concept of joy in the New Year. Life can be messy with financial challenges, health issues and work related stresses. This much is guaranteed. Boldly putting one foot in front of the other is one way to conquer the fear and worry of life. With each new step I look for the moments of joy. Be it the blue jay I saw on my walk this morning, or the smile from a loved one that lets me know all is okay. Every moment is a blessing and once gone, just a memory. Cherish everything, even the difficult things. Life is best lived from a joyful heart.

 

The Passing Of A Beautiful Spirit With An Untamed Heart

The Passing Of A Beautiful Spirit With An Untamed Heart

 

Events of late have me pondering the paradoxical elements running deeply within my family. Everyone has some wildness, weirdness and hyper intuition but may not elevate these qualities to the degree my family has. This hyper intuition present in all instances and I wonder how women managed to foster unconditional love within this uniqueness without losing themselves entirely in the process.

 

After much thought, I find I have come full circle: puzzled, awestruck, bemused and a bit afraid. There is much to live up to when placing myself aside those that have lived flawed lives while shining their soul so brightly. On most days, I just want to hide in a self made cave, sipping tea and reading a good book. The world can be far to intimidating and my home feels safe.

 

How does a women balance a gentle spirit with the constant calling of an untamed heart, a persistent wanderlust for people, place and thing? On a good day, I feel torn by my somewhat ferocious desire to make a difference in the world and the gentle spirited voice that wants to love with abandon, residing in a safe zone of warmth and kindness.

 

It takes great courage to break with one’s past history and stand alone.”

-Marion Woodman

 

Hearing the stories of my Grandmother Charlotte’s colorful life only fuel my desire to find a way forward. No matter how one interprets her life in review, there is no doubt that she did it her way. I always admired that she never tried to be anything but herself. In doing so, she had a unique ability to accept others as they were showing up, foibles and all. Even though one could absolutely say she was feisty with an inner fire that burned with a palpable heat, I never experienced a moment with her in which I did not feel seen. She captured my attention, locking in like a missile by speaking to whatever was in my heart. She never shied away from difficult things, at least not with me. Her blunt honesty delivered with a larger than life smile was appreciated more than I believe I ever let her know.

 

I often wonder if my life trajectory would have been different if I had known her earlier. She and her sister Frieda spoke to me, my gypsy spirit, in a way that others did not. Meeting her was jarring in that I saw someone living in a way that inspired yet frightened me. She had a loving partner who honored her uniqueness and the two of them seemed to exist in a self made bubble of recognition.  Wherever Charlotte was, so too was Wilton.  Two of the same, yet different sides of a coin. She was outgoing and vivacious, he quiet and introspection. I just can’t fathom one without the other.

 

One thing that remains is the endless wells of generosity I witnessed in Charlotte. She healed wounds in our family that only a child of adoption could know. My mother found a mirror in Charlotte and together they walked through the remainder of Charlotte’s life loving, learning and leaning on one other. No other example of unconditional love stands as profound as this. We gained another grandmother and she gained a daughter with a very loving extended family. In losing her, it brought into focus just how special relationships are and how fortunate it is to connect with another on any level.

 

“Death is our friend, precisely because it brings us into absolute and passionate presence with all that is here, that is natural, that is love.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke

 

I feel the space that she left and hope that in some small way, by living my life on my own terms, I honor that space. I hope to be able to add something positive to my environment, connecting with others in my own careful yet spiritual way. People talk to me and I believe this is a gift that grandma Charlotte passed along. I may not always welcome it, but maybe that is not the point. Maybe the point is how others honor me by sharing their stories. Each time someone opens up in a personal way, I try to honor this sharing while providing some comfort for whatever may be troubling them. I try to exchange energy in the most gentle and loving of ways and in doing so I am the recipient of their bravery, resilience and love. In this way my untamed heart is set free from the fear of living such a non-traditional way. In this way I am the lucky one.

 

Charlotte is pure light now and privy to all of the beauty and majestic wonder of this spectacular universe. She is everywhere yet nowhere, ever expansive and limitless, she is pure unadulterated love. Peace, blessings and light to her on this next chapter of her journey. I hope to carry with me a small spark of her fire that she so lovingly tended and shared with others.

 

Find the Gold in Others

Find the Gold in Others

 

Variation on the Word Sleep

I would like to watch you sleeping,
which may not happen.
I would like to watch you,
sleeping. I would like to sleep
with you, to enter
your sleep as its smooth dark wave
slides over my head

and walk with you through that lucent
wavering forest of bluegreen leaves
with its watery sun & three moons
towards the cave where you must descend,
towards your worst fear

I would like to give you the silver
branch, the small white flower, the one
word that will protect you
from the grief at the center
of your dream, from the grief
at the center. I would like to follow
you up the long stairway
again & become
the boat that would row you back
carefully, a flame
in two cupped hands
to where your body lies
beside me, and you enter
it as easily as breathing in

I would like to be the air
that inhabits you for a moment
only. I would like to be that unnoticed
& that necessary.

Margaret Atwood, 1939

 

Margaret Atwood imagery has such an ethereal quality. It dances when read and is reminiscent of innermost thoughts, gentle but intensely deep. Reading this piece, I am reminded of the very human desire to know another in the most intimate of ways. As one that craves this knowing in every interaction, I am often left feeling somewhat empty, or more optimistically half full after speaking with another. Always longing to understand what makes one tick, I struggle with balancing my desire for this knowing with the pretense of modern day culture.

 

No matter the venue, the desire to “see” never abates. I am constantly scanning and observing feeling curious, shocked, disappointed and bemused. We are all strange and extraordinary creatures, full of individual quirks and habits. As one that is well familiar with the walls used to disguise a more vulnerable self, I find it fascinating seeing others do the same. Our fragility speaks volumes without a word being said.

 

Recently, I have begun to reach a breaking point of sorts. May it be due to midlife or just introspection, one can never know. I am losing patience with the benign conversations and banter of daily life. The effort that is required of me to avoid absorbing restless energy is exhausting. I feel it as soon as I walk into a room. At times the air is light and playful and at other times extremely heavy. Wouldn’t it be nice to stop the incessant meetings and take the time to have one on one discussion about life, the universe and all things bigger than this world? Instead talk percolates around all issues that divide, a pointless endeavor with little hope for resolution. I have even taken to finding out a bit about each person in an effort to humanize thereby making our interaction more meaningful, gentle and empathetic.

 

Margaret Atwood says it so powerfully with, “I would like to be the air that inhabits you for a moment only. I would like to be that unnoticed & that necessary.” While this line can easily be placed in the hands of a loving and intimate relationship, what does it mean when superimposed on all other relationships? What is required of us to “see” others? Each relationship thrives on tending and I have come to realize that no matter the tenor of the friendship, much thought and consideration should be given to what motivates another. Are they exhausted from over commitment, struggling with illness, energized by passion or just incessantly trying to prove themselves to a person long gone that lingers on in memory alone. The metaphorical voice over the shoulder perhaps. Whatever the case, each person comes to this world with a unique sensibility; a way of navigating, protecting and sharing that is different from all others. This leaves me feeling responsible to peel back a few of these layers, understand the pressure points and honor them in conversation.

 

I may miss the mark, but that does not keep me from trying again and again. Personal experience is proof that once someone feels a level of comfort, some of the walls will come down. In my case this is true only in instances where I feel a certain vibration from another, recognition of similar. In these instances, I feel capable of breathing the same air, feeling their pain and understanding motivation. It is always collaborative, an intimate sharing of self. We are never on a solo mission; our existence is contingent on relationships of all sorts. Alone we are just that…alone.

 

Finding My Way Home

Finding My Way Home

 

“This magnificent refuge is inside you. Enter. Shatter the darkness that shrouds the doorway. Step around the poisonous vipers that slither at your feet, attempting to throw you off your course. Be bold. Be humble. Put away the incense and forget the incantations they taught you. Ask no permission from the authorities. Slip away. Close your eyes and follow your breath to the still place that leads to the invisible path that leads you home.”

― Mirabai Starr, The Interior Castle

 

Frustrated by disparity between the self-help movement, religions that profess acceptance and actual practice, I find myself in the gray once again.  People are imperfect, yet it baffles me when those that profess to be pious judge with utter abandon. It is for this very reason I made the personal decision to explore all practices but claim none. Each has something to offer along with something that speaks directly to me. In my view, if everyone practiced love as a core belief, judgment would be counter to any belief.

 

In this way, reading the words of the mystics has offered a specific calmness in my life. I share their depth of feeling as well as a misfit sensibility demonstrated by disconnect with the progression of others. Everyone else may be thinking about a to-do list or how to capture success while I am in that quiet place of serenity and solitude dancing with my thoughts. No one seems to notice, I make no outward appearance to this fact. I slip in and out of this realm with a practiced ease, questioning everything.

 

Of the many questions I ponder, one remains. Why is it that so many faiths lay down strict rules of engagement prescribing how one should experience the Divine? Who has the authority to tell me how to experience what should be freely given.  It is important to allow room for spiritual discovery in the way that speaks to one as an individual. No organization, ideology or otherwise can hold weight over this self-discovery. Mysticism allows for this space, a space to experience spirit in a personal way, a space between all else.

 

“If you truly loved yourself, you could never hurt another.”

― Gautama Buddha

 

There are many ways to the same end. The faithful practitioner may come to the same conclusions as one that has spent a lifetime of immersion in mystic thought, empowering the individual experience over the group. No one-way is the only way; I refuse to accept that premise. Mirabai Starr speaks to this beautifully with, “Be bold. Be humble. Put away the incense and forget the incantations they taught you. Ask no permission from the authorities. Slip away.” Another soul that feels as I do!

 

Never second-guess your path. It is unique to you and therefore requires no further scrutiny from others. Be bold yet humble, just as Ms. Starr states. Take chances, but ask questions of yourself. Face your fears and do so with a loving heart. Forging your own way does not require announcement or explanation. Quiet the voices and silence your mind. Trust in your ability to discern the truth from all else. Take as many detours as needed, approaching all misfortune with patience and love. Find your way home.

 

Find Your Song

Find Your Song

Can you sing a song to greet the sun,

Can you cheerily tackle the work to be done,

Can you vision it finished when only begun,

Can you sing a song?

 

Can you sing a song when the day’s half through,

When even the thought of the rest wearies you,

With so little done and so much to do,

Can you sing a song?

 

Can you sing a song at the close of the day,

When weary and tired, the work’s put away,

With the joy that it’s done the best of the pay,

Can you sing a song?

-Joseph Morris

 

Having passed the fall equinox, the days are becoming shorter and the darkness of winter fast approaches. In addition to seasonal change, recent chaotic world events have left me feeling the approach of this darkness heavily. I wonder why evil exists in this world and why so many suffer. I ponder the fragility of life and that this one precious life can be taken anytime in the most senseless of ways.  In the midst of my inner turmoil, I try to make every effort to focus on the light rather than allowing darker energy to fester thereby clouding my every thought and action. Sometimes I see this light more directly and can embrace this sensation wholeheartedly. In other cases, I put forth great intention to recognize good when all I see and hear is so unforgiving.

 

It is difficult to soar with little motivation to lift the voice, feel the spirit and sit in gladness. Freeing my voice requires a commitment to self. I refuse to allow opinions, heinous actions, physical limitations or even my own negative self-talk to bring me down. I choose love. I make the decision each and every day to let my voice sing just as Joseph Morris states by posing the question, “Can you sing a song?This choice is never one made from naïveté but rather with a loving resistance to the darker elements.

 

We are all fighting the good fight. Each one of us greets the new day, fighting the same battles from before. These battles may not be visible to others, but are challenging and painful nonetheless. For some it may be addictions, for others an illness, procrastination or even self-doubt. All are shades of darkness in an otherwise beautiful world filled with so much loving kindness.

 

Today, on the eve of a powerful full moon, turn off the news, silence the mind and take a few moments to feel the light, the inherent goodness of mankind. Don’t let the darkness consume you. Listen to music, dance with abandon and hug those that you love. Choose to lean into radiating light that brightly projects the inter-connectivity of all and embrace hope for what is left to come. Find your song and sing it beautifully.

 

 

A Dream Within a Dream

A Dream Within a Dream

A Dream within a Dream by Edgar Allan Poe

Take this kiss upon the brow!

And, in parting from you now,

Thus much let me avow–

You are not wrong, who deem

That my days have been a dream;

Yet if hope has flown away

In a night, or in a day, In a vision, or in none,

Is it therefore the less gone?

All that we see or seem

Is but a dream within a dream.

I stand amid the roar

Of a surf-tormented shore,

And I hold within my hand

Grains of the golden sand–

How few! yet how they creep

Through my fingers to the deep,

While I weep–while I weep! O God! can I not grasp

Them with a tighter clasp? O God! can I not save

One from the pitiless wave?

Is all that we see or seem

But a dream within a dream?

 

Many times, I have considered the possibility that my view of the world is nothing more than a reflection, a shade of supposed truths that I hold. What if the real truth is one that I do not see and instead find myself in a familiar comfort of a false projection? This thought tends to percolate at times in which I feel completely out of step with the rest of the world. Times when I find nothing in common with those around me; those spending their days gaining wealth, prestige, stature or power. Times when I see people suffering with no one stopping to assist, times when I witness hate and anger and wonder why these emotions still exist in an intelligent world. Times when I am completely overwhelmed by the daily grind of life finding little joy in the mediocrity of the process.

 

Long an Edgar Allan Poe fan, A Dream within a Dream touches on the deeper questions of existence and serves as a perfect example of the exceptional metaphor Poe was known for. None strike a chord more directly than the following passage:

 

I stand amid the roar

Of a surf-tormented shore,

And I hold within my hand

Grains of the golden sand–

How few! yet how they creep

Through my fingers to the deep,

 

The repetition of daily life, as represented by Poe’s surf-tormented shore, can be mind numbing at times. We get up each day, go to our jobs and come home to families only to begin anew over and over again. Where in this rhythm do we take time for introspection, creativity and even love? I understand that much of this journey is finding grace in living the mundane in both a loving and gentle manner. To this end, I do not need to be lectured on the importance of accepting even the smallest of tasks with pride and I certainly do not need to hear that life has some deep and unknown purpose beyond the daily grind. I know these things to be true.

 

I simply feel as if the grains of sand are slipping through my fingers soon to be gone with both the wind and waves of time. Nothing is permanent, not me and not even this world. This begs the question, where does energy go if all that we know is not what we believe it to be? When we transition and our soul is set free, do we become a part of the larger universe? Do we become one with all that is and ever was? Does the footprint of our human life persist or become lost as with sand to surf. So many questions. Just because I am comfortable living in the questions does not mean that I do not ask them repeatedly. It is okay to question things by constantly examining the status quo. I alone am accountable for the end result of my journey. It is for this reason that others opinions mean very little to me. I take full responsibility for my beliefs and no organized practice or tribal unit can absolve me from this responsibility. The problem becomes when I get caught in the cycle of constant questioning, never stopping to just be. In these moments, I am perpetually stuck in a holding pattern of evaluation.

 

The human condition is limiting and it becomes all too easy to get caught up in the mundane. Our job is to find more moments in which we free ourselves from these limitations and feel the energy of the universe as best as we can. Poe speaks to the agony of holding on to something that is not ours to be held. Our lives and this world are all impermanent and no amount of holding will change this fact.  I plan to take more moments this year of letting go, letting go of all the limitations that I place on myself, that others place upon me and the constant need for more. I pledge to let go of the “less than” mentality and accept myself as fully as I can “as is”. I pledge to do this before it is too late and sand has slipped through my fingers, taken back by the ocean from whence it came.