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For My Children: Move to Your Own Music

For My Children: Move to Your Own Music

 

FOR ANY DAUGHTER/ FOR ANY SON

Do not let yourself be blindfolded early on.

Do not accept harsh or kindly lashing, slashing …

even when it is called “traditional,” “required.”

Do not be lulled by sensations…

soft velvet wrapped around your head

will blind thee nonetheless.

Do not hide behind, “It can’t be bad,”

“It’s not that bad,”

“No real harm’s been done. . .”

Do not try to convince yourself by bargaining,

“See, they’re such exquisite velvet blinders. . .

a cut above the usual.”

Be wary of “doing what we do here,”

“doing as we have always done.”

Withstand grinning Death in his many disguises;

he will promise fleeting excitement ,

a once a year glory in exchange for forfeiting

your one precious and wild life forever.

Do not pour salt

into the earth of your mind

and expect lilies to grow there.

For us, resistance is ceremony.

We are the proof that the soul’s truths

transcend the oldest time-honored lies.

 

“For Any Daughter, For Any Son” by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés

 

Nothing feels stronger than the tug of tradition, an incredibly magnetic pull toward the past. Traditions are an important part of any family story. What would we be without those that have come before? That being said, it is important to understand that we have no obligation to take ownership of what may not be meant for us, including our family traditions. We flex our courage muscle each time we resist doing things as they have always been done as opposed to listening to our hearts and moving in that direction.

 

Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes writes, “Do not pour salt into the earth of your mind and expect lilies to grow there.” Breathing in these words, I experience an instant release of the unwanted. Salt is an abrasive yet essential mineral for life. The metaphor of a mind filled with this life mineral, yet unable to blossom, is powerful.  Why not sprinkle salt and leave some room for the lilies to germinate? After all, beauty is discovered only by giving breathe to an otherwise constricted way of being.

 

Resisting the status quo can be difficult. By its very nature, resistance can be insidious.  If I wish my daughter and son to be strong minded yet gentle hearted, I must let them forge their way into this role even if their path differs from mine. Who is to say one way is the only way? Walking through life with a different cadence does not dishonor.  It takes many cadences to create the beautiful music of a symphonic variation. One cannot possibly bloom if trying to walk, act or behave as everyone else.

 

The harsh words of the critic will sound, seeing all that is different and speaking to these differences without permission.  Forget what you hear and see. As Dr. Estes writes, “For us, resistance is ceremony. We are the proof that the soul’s truths transcend the oldest time-honored lies.”

 

The following thoughts are for my beautiful children. My wish for them is that they continue to honor the voice within and dance to their own music, no matter how different it may be. Dance my loves and live fully.

 

Know your truth and honor it with every action and thought. Be freely and unabashedly yourself and revel in knowing that no matter the outcome you have lived life on your own terms.

 

Be brave and circle your on wagons as need be. Bravery is hard fought each time you face a fear that is not yours to hold. Toss out the ceremonial makings of the expected and dance a new war dance of your own. Listen for direction on the winds of change and let the breeze elevate your soul.

 

Face hardships with a humble heart and know that this life was not meant to be easy. Everyone, no matter how they appear, has experienced darkness bringing them to their knees. It is only face down in the dirt that one can finally let go of all expectations, inhibitions and unwanted observation by committing to the blooming of a beautiful soul.

 

Let go and flower into the sun, dance in the wind and smile broadly. This life is such a beautiful and precious gift. Remember that each new day is filled with possibility no matter what obstacles you may experience.

 

Smile at your troubles, laugh during your hardships and release the fear of the unknown. Silence the voices and refuse to change the music of your own drum. It is only when being completely self that life unfolds as it should.

 

Love unconditionally. Love those that make you uncomfortable, love family that you do not understand, love strangers that appear odd and love those that argue for the obscene and confrontational. Approach all with love in every instance. Think before you speak and hold your tongue if you do not trust what might be said in haste.

 

Do not acquiesce to others but simply send them love as you move in your own way. Try not to hold hate in your heart. Hate is a darkness that will take root and strangle the bloom before it has seen the sun.

 

Finally, dance. Dance to the music in your heart and the soothing sounds of the universe. Feel the rhythm of your day as if turning pages on a score. Balance moments of excitement with moments of repose just as an allegro meets an adagio. Feel joy in your body and do not be ashamed by this. Jump into the freedom that comes from moving your body in your own unique way. Embrace the oneness you experience in this movement and cherish the togetherness of body and soul.

 

Dance your way through the hardship and heartbreak and continue to listen to the music of your heart…turning it up loud. Be simple in your complexity, an open book that sits on a shelf waiting for those that wish to read you. Stand in honor of this authenticity and refuse to back down. Never forget, you are a beautiful soul and deeply loved.

 

Pieces to Our Puzzle

Pieces to Our Puzzle

 

“Longing may be our legacy, but wholeness is our birthright.  It lies at the heart of the disappointments and delights of everyday life.  In weeding the garden and burning the toast. In falling asleep alone or enfolded in the arms of another.  In reading poetry instead of watching the news. In missing the grandmother you adored and becoming the father you never had.  In weeping for the suffering of the oppressed, the degradation of the planet.”

-Mirabai Starr

 

As spiritual beings, we are made up of a unique collection of pieces to our very own life puzzle.  These pieces represent the work in moving from immaturity to spiritual wholeness. It is often with this soul work of reassembly that one can get stuck, wondering how to bring wholeness to a chaotic and sometimes unforgiving worldview. This begs the question, maybe we are not meant to reflect some spectacular version of perfection after all.  Could it be within our imperfections that we exist in our truest form?

Growing up, I loved doing puzzles. What began as an unorganized slurry of parts, transformed into the most beautiful of pictures. This final image instantly made sense of the mess, as if it had been there all along waiting to be discovered. Working on this discovery was meditative in practice. Methodically lifting each piece, trying them in numerous places and looking for the smallest of details was a deeply introspective activity. I remember the tangible exuberance when arriving at the very last pieces. It was as if all of a sudden every angle sharpened and each piece seemed to effortlessly slide into the whole exactly where it was meant to be. The simplicity of it was startling. What seemed impossible from the beginning became instantly possible.

Life is not much different than the work of completing a complex puzzle. We enter this world with such possibility and many different pieces of self that will be tested in a plethora of ways. Each role that we try on is evaluated and considered. Is what we are doing or who we are leading us closer to this wholeness or further away? Each day brings new opportunities to evaluate our pieces under new circumstances, lending to endless amounts of feedback.

 

“Many of us have made our world so familiar that we do not see it anymore. An interesting question to ask yourself at night is, What did I really see this day?”

― John O’Donohue, Anam Cara

Just as with a puzzle, when finding ourselves at a dead end, we can remove layers that do not serve and rebuild our puzzle into wholeness. It is in this constant evaluation, continued work, and correction that one experiences the true practice of spiritual discovery. It is never too late to redefine our life. We are each given a blank canvas along with a bag full of pieces that represent our genetics, personality, birth status, family orientation, etc. While some of these pieces may be ill fitted from the start, we have the ability to build upon them in order to create a more beautiful self.

My marriage was a good example of this correction. In marriage, I tried out a piece of myself and worked tirelessly to make it “fit” the reality in which I found myself. It was only after years of hardship, I finally discovered my path was harmful and not in any way healthy for my heart and soul. I slowly became to undo these pieces, all that tethered me to another in an unhealthy way, and began the arduous work of rebuilding my puzzle one piece at a time.

 I will most certainly encounter many more moments of setback in which I move away from that beautiful image awaiting me.  Life is an endless cycle of expansion and contraction. All that matters is my intention. If I set an intention of spiritual growth, I can use this intention as a reevaluation tool along the way. If a piece does not seem to be fitting my intention, it may be time to make a change. In doing so, I continue to learn, grow and test this bag of pieces in as many ways as my precious life will afford. These pieces will begin to fill in the shadows of my soul leaving a beautifully clear image, representative of all that I am and all that I will ever be.

 

Climbing the Summit and Awakening

Climbing the Summit and Awakening

 

“Once the soul awakens, the search begins and you can never go back. From then on, you are inflamed with a special longing that will never again let you linger in the lowlands of complacency and partial fulfillment. The eternal makes you urgent. You are loath to let compromise or the threat of danger hold you back from striving toward the summit of fulfillment.”

― John O’Donohue,

 

There is only forward, it has become impossible to look back. As if the person I was no longer exists. With each day, minute and second I am transformed into the next. Nothing is lost on me any longer, every happening is a new landscape filled with possibilities.  As John O’Donohue states, “the eternal makes you urgent”.  Urgency is forever present and the tug of my curious heart grows stronger and more persistent with each delay.

 

The march of routine echoes loudly in my ear. I try to embrace the simple, knowing there is grace in completing the smallest of tasks with pride. This does nothing to silence the awakening. It hums ever so quietly until it eventually becomes a deafening freeway filled with thousands of thoughts and possibilities. The assault of this unknown is paralyzing. Fear lingers, beckoning me to restrain myself by filling my mind with a litany of “what if’s”

 

A summit is very much a metaphor for this awakening. Every day is filled with rejection of the norm, a conquering of the ascent. It is a push to something unknown yet beautiful in its otherness. The awakening of a soul is a blooming of the eternal breath. We carry this breath our entire life, suppressing it under the burdens of this world. When this breath begins to move throughout the body, no amount of restraint will diminish it. It is powerful yet gentle, curious yet familiar and erratic while focused.

 

“May all that is unlived in you blossom into a future graced with love.”

― John O’Donohue

 

 

The breath of an awakening spirit lifts one up slightly above the comfort of the familiar, with a line of sight to the summit. It is in this line of sight that possibility exists. People will tell you to get your head out of the clouds by coming back to reality. Pay no attention. These same people are fearful of what you see. Their discomfort is with themselves, never with you.

 

In this very moment all I hunger for is to live. I wish to live as completely as my ageing body will allow. Time is the constant. The weight of the world is ticking loudly, with the reminder that nothing is guaranteed. If I wish to allow my awakened soul to blossom, I have to provide space for this breath to flow. Constriction is never conducive to growth. I often smile when I throw of my work clothes soon after getting home, wash my face, tie up my hair and feel the release of the work day. For me, it is in this moment that I feel most like myself. Naked, open and filled with an expansive breathe of something other than what is considered productive, yet vital for my very being.

 

 “The human journey is a continuous act of transfiguration.”

― John O’Donohue

 

My inner dialogue with spirit is only flowing when I am in this most natural of states. It can be trance like when writing, a connection with a different frequency or plane. It is in these moments that I hear O’Donohue remind that we must all be “inflamed with a special longing that will never again let you linger in the lowlands of complacency and partial fulfillment.” I am inflamed and am not looking back. My awakening may be jarring to others and even myself. All things worthwhile are difficult and require a commitment to the idea until one can live into the space of the real. However long it takes, I am committed to reach for the summit. Whether I make it to the metaphorical top is unimportant. It is in the striving that I blossom and am filled with the breath of all that is and all that ever was.

 

Be Yourself and Bloom

Be Yourself and Bloom

 

“I hope you will go out and let stories, that is life, happen to you,and that you will work with these stories from your life–not someone else’s life–water them with your blood and tears and your laughter till they bloom, till you yourself burst into bloom. That is the work. The only work.”

― Clarissa Pinkola Estés,

 

I often consider the possibility we are born into this world knowing who we are, where we come from and all of the many wonders of the universe. It is in the birthing process that we forget. The assault of oxygen, loud noises and gravity quiets this knowing. It then takes an entire lifetime to know oneself again. We expend so much energy learning, failing, growing, achieving all under the guise of self-growth. Life is just a convoluted journey on the way home.

Certain calmness prevails as we reach the end of this process, an unshakable acknowledgment of all that is and all that will ever be. Imagine two old souls nodding at one another as they pass, one leaving this place while another returns to learn once again.

 

I am the voice of the awakening in the eternal night

-Gnostic Hymn

 

Given this perspective on life, what are we doing if not continually learning? Being stagnant is not living, it is persisting. Change and challenge take courage with the promise of much discomfort. Yet if this change is the only way to allow our souls to shine, why do we shy away from the challenge only to protect social norms and misplaced expectations?

 

“One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it.”

― Clarissa Pinkola Estés

 

One thing is true; this is my life and only mine. No one can live it for me by accepting responsibility for failings or accolades for service and contribution. It is and has only been between me and the Divine. This important and intimate relationship will bear fruit eventually. As Clarissa Pinkola Estés says so beautifully, ““I hope you will go out and let stories, that is life, happen to you,and that you will work with these stories from your life–not someone else’s lifewater them with your blood and tears and your laughter till they bloom, till you yourself burst into bloom. That is the work. The only work.”

 

My heart bleeds tears of recognition when I read these words. I know I have been a seedling far too long and to bloom I must face the sun wholeheartedly. The sun is ever bright with intensity and weight of a heated energy. It is among this intensity that courage is born, the willingness to be myself irrespective of a gaggle of naysayer. It is within this partnership that I am reborn to live fully once again in my own skin, accepting all that I am and all that I am not. I can gracefully let life have its way with me, feeling the edges and dark corners yet facing all with a clear heart and mind.

 

This world is indeed stormy with an independent emotional weather and a constant underlying hum of uncertainty. The agitation of this push and pull can be seen in the eyes of many. It is in seeing, acknowledging and challenging this agitation that one grows. Just as a flower needs the light to bloom so too does our soul. One cannot hide in the darkness and expect beautiful blossoms to unfold. One must face the brightness of chance, face the possibility of failure and face the willingness to be seen every day. In doing so we are watering our own garden and moving a few steps closer to where we were always meant to bloom. Home.

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.

 

Fragile-Handle with Care

Fragile-Handle with Care

A Song of Living

Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die.

I have sent up my gladness on wings, to be lost in the blue of the sky.

I have run and leaped with the rain, I have taken the wind to my breast.

My cheeks like a drowsy child to the face of the earth I have pressed.

Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die.

I have kissed young love on the lips, I have heard his song to the end,

I have struck my hand like a seal in the loyal hand of a friend.

I have known the peace of heaven, the comfort of work done well.

I have longed for death in the darkness and risen alive out of hell.

Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die.

I gave a share of my soul to the world, when and where my course is run.

I know that another shall finish the task I surely must leave undone.

I know that no flower, nor flint was in vain on the path I trod.

As one looks on a face through a window, through life I have looked on God,

Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die.

Amelia Burr

1878-1968

We are such fragile creatures. The gentleness of the human disposition is often shrouded in a rigid shield used to navigate a somewhat unforgiving world. Underneath all of this protective gear we are naturally soft, exuding light and love. I feel this light from others even when I do not want to, inspiring instant connection regardless of outside packaging. I do not care what religion, political affiliation or race you are. I only care what softness you hide inside and how I might see it better. I question how many layers have been sewn in order to function and how long it will take for me to unlock these layers witnessing the brilliance of a soul. I have little time for those that hide indefinitely under false pretense. I want to know the real person and deeply so.

As one that walks this edge every day, I tend to wear my softness on my sleeve. I cry, laugh and become sullen at the most inopportune times. Labeled sensitive as a child, I was told to grow a stiff upper lip, toughen up and not be so sensitive. This struggle persisted and is one that I grapple with even today.  I have found the only way I can manage interacting with others is by putting up a few walls. If I hold hearts too closely, I am ineffective as a leader in becoming sensitized to the lion’s share of their pain. Once again, I find myself walking the edge. I find ways to be receptive while at the same time creating some necessary distance. The whole charade can be exhausting and one in which I never relish the process.

 

My soul is full of whispered song;

My blindness is my sight;

The shadows that I feared so long

Are all alive with light.

Alice Cary

1820-1871

 

In addition to the energetic qualities each of us exhibit, we inhabit a delicate disposition and our physical bodies often fail us. Recently, after having some unpleasant side effects from a medication, I found myself feeling my fragility more than I liked. Having no illusions as to the longevity of this body, I am well aware that I am on the backside of midlife and am heading into the next chapter of my life. You will not find me wishing to be twenty; I welcome the wisdom that only travels with age and experience. I aspire to remain functional for as long as I am afforded and do all within my power to facilitate this. It is only when I have done all that I can to improve my environment, but still find myself falling short, that I get frustrated.

In moments such as these I call upon my faith and remember that I too am fragile. I try to honor this vulnerability and treat myself with as much empathy as I would another. On days in which I am far less than perfect, which is every day, I try to be gentle with myself. I cradle my budding and precious soul as I would a beautiful piece of stained glass forged by multiple life experiences in the heat of living a full life. After all, we are all just shards of glass reflecting our light out into a world made of rocks and stones.

 

“Some people look for a beautiful place, others make a place beautiful.”

― Hazrat Inayat Khan

 

It is with this revelation that I find we should all have a “Fragile, Handle with Care” sign worn daily. This fragility warrants gentle handling in all instances, one crack and we become weak and prone to breakage. I would venture to say that we all have moments in our life in which we are in danger of being shattered. Amanda Burr’s poem, A Song of Living speaks to this with, “I gave a share of my soul to the world, when and where my course is run. I know that another shall finish the task I surely must leave undone.” We are all unfinished in some way, jagged pieces and all.

Simply by showing up,  we forge these broken pieces into a beautiful and loving piece of art. We will never be perfect and should never ascribe to this paradigm. We can only be the best version of ourselves each new day, learning and growing as we go.  I have known some older and much wiser people whose souls shine as brightly as the sun. They have lived into the truest version of self and their brightness is more beautiful than the greatest works of art.

Know that all glass breaks, it is only just a matter of time. When your fragile pieces become damaged, take heart in the fact that you can forge them back together with love and light. It takes much time and reflection to pick up all of the pieces and lovingly create a new version of self. Enjoy the process, look to each day as a creative expression of self, built upon newfound wisdom and the oldest of scars. Use every experience to reinvent yourself shining more brightly with each attempt. Slowly, over time, you too will shine like a thousand stars in the night sky.

The Invitation

The Invitation

The Invitation

It doesn’t interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me
how old you are.
I want to know
if you will risk
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me
what planets are
squaring your moon…
I want to know
if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened
by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know
if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations
of being human.

It doesn’t interest me
if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know
if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
“Yes.”

It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me
where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know
what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know
if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments.

By Oriah © Mountain Dreaming,
from the book The Invitation
published by HarperONE, San Francisco,
1999 All rights reserved

 

As poems go, this one strikes a chord. As one drawn by the heart and soul of another, I find societies emphasis on all else tiring. I am not deceived by this costume or covering worn in an attempt to appear familiar to many and foreign to few.  I can be in the same space with another and see they are putting on errs, hiding pain, sadness, frustration. Oriah speaks to this with “if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without, moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it.” It makes people so uncomfortable to be face to face with another’s pain let alone their own.  We are taught that we must tough it out, be strong, never let anyone see us in a state of weakness. My initial inclination is always fixing the problem. I try to fight this urge by using deep listening as my response instead.

 

I am also deeply touched by the lines, “I want to know if you can, disappoint another, to be true to yourself. If you can bear, the accusation of betrayal, and not betray your own Soul.” Coming from a very traditional home in which being highly goal oriented was valued, I found myself lost between expectations I thought my parents held and my own desires and creative urges. I was academic and could have been a doctor, lawyer or CEO. Instead I was draw to the arts, the ethereal and aesthetic qualities of movement and writing. It has taken me much reflection to be at ease with this contradiction. I know my family loves me, but my passions are not viewed as a contribution in quite the same way as more traditional work.

 

Finally, I see myself in the last stanza. “I want to know, if you can be alone, with yourself, and if you truly like, the company you keep, in the empty moments.” My best friend is myself. Strange as it may sound, I enjoy my own company. I like to be lost in thought, listening to music with no distraction. I am definitely not a recluse, but I do pull energy from moments of solitude. When I find that same quality in another, knowing we can be alone together sitting in the same room while deeply immersed in something that speaks to me, I am overjoyed. It is this type of person that I am drawn to; a person that knows when to provide space for quiet and when to meet me at the gates of my solitude, drawing me out into the world to play and explore once again.

 

The Smiling Forehead and Inner Light

The Smiling Forehead and Inner Light

 

As I sat reading last night, I came across a phrase that jumped off the page as they sometimes do. It was in a book titled Thinking Like the Universe by Pir Vilayat Inayat Kahn and a reference to light and a Sufi smiling forehead that caught my attention. Light being the bridge between what is known and unknown and a smiling forehead being this same “light” emanating outward. A complete manifestation of  energy reflecting out into the world with a calm and loving aura. Glorious to envision and a rarity to see and experience.

 

Light has always been a close friend of mine.  When I close my eyes I often see flashes of light that appear like a laser light show behind my eyelids. As a young adult I practiced shielding myself with light when I was fearful and often sent light to others in need of support. I am also one that can slip in and out of that space between my inner light and the outer world with a certain level of ease.  This never requires meditation or a quieting of the mind and strangely I can create this shift at will. This movement between two energetic spaces has confused me in the past. With no reference to what was happening I felt odd and out of step, a very disorientating feeling.

 

“It is tragic how few people ever ‘possess their souls’ before they die… Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation…”

-Oscar Wilde

 

As I have become more familiar with this shift, I have come to enjoy the moments of solitude when I slip effortlessly into this realm that has the vibration of pure and unconditional love. After reading about the Sufi smiling forehead it became clear that my practice moving forward should include emanating this light and energy outward rather than containing it internally. This will certainly be difficult to master and I suspect representative of a lifetime of work in culmination. As an introspective and private person, I am aware that I may appear closed off to the outside world at times. This is a physical manifestation of deep thinking rather than aloofness. I often struggle with this dichotomy, the way I wish to project self out to the world and the way I actually do.  

 

“Below what we think we are, we are something else,

we are almost anything”.

D.H.Lawrence

 

One of my greatest wishes is to be an open and loving vessel to all that I encounter, requiring me to put down my protective walls and let my “smiling forehead” be seen. With people that I am completely comfortable with I am more willing to share this inner light without reservation. It is only in times of fear, confusion or anxiety that I hold my light close as a mother would a child. During moments when I interact and dance with this light, it is pure ecstasy. My external self becomes nonexistent and for just that moment I am free, weightless and shining brightly. The heat is warming but does not burn and the air is reminiscent of a deep and fulfilling sigh.

 

As I have journeyed down this path of mysticism, I find myself slipping into this space more often and not wanting to leave. Outside distractions are just that, distractions. I find the trivialities of life a nuisance and want nothing more than to find a way to allow myself to dance on the boundaries of these two spaces freely and without hesitation. For this reason it has become more important to find a way to share this experience with those around me rather than risk becoming too egocentric  or lost in the practice. I am hopeful that with practice, my “smiling forehead” will enter a room before me, filling the space with light and creating an environment of pure love and joyful acceptance.

 

Ignorant Before the Heavens of My Life

Ignorant Before the Heavens of My Life

 

Ignorant before the heavens of my life,

I stand and gaze in wonder. Oh the vastness

of the stars. Their rising and descent. How still.

As if I didn’t exist. Do I have any

share in this? Have I somehow dispensed with

their pure effect? Does my blood’s ebb and flow

change with their changes? Let me put aside

every desire, every relationship

except this one, so that my heart grows used to

its farthest spaces. Better that it live

fully aware, in the terror of its stars, than

as if protected, soothed by what is near.

by Rainer Maria Rilke

 

Have you ever missed a place so much that your heart aches? I have missed a place such as this my entire life. How is this possible?  I do not know. I wish I understood, but I don’t. I long for this place yet cannot even describe it, a different dimension filled with love and light. I have no idea what this other is, but I wish to be there. As Rilke writes, “Ignorant before the heavens of my life, I stand and gaze in wonder. Oh the vastness of the stars.” I see and feel this vastness everyday. It blinds me with its purity and beckons with unconditional love.

 

I am not well suited for this world; it feels foreign and heavy to me. The day-to-day grind of life along with meaningless small talk and the incessant desire for more. I cannot seem to prescribe to this paradigm, even though I have tried on numerous occasions. My love for my family sustains me, but does not quench a constant thirst for this other. It is a buzzing that never ceases. I can be in a room full of people and still feel alone. It could be that everyone feels this way to some degree and my ultra sensitivity amplifies it. I only know my experience and how it feels to walk in my shoes. Nothing more and nothing less.

 

This has nothing to do with psychology mumbo jumbo or my personality type. This is much greater than that. It is metaphysical, indefinable and boundless. It feels like the earth’s core; hot, full of energy and dangerously intense. I feel this intensity inside all the while projecting a calm and serene demeanor. It is an untruth, yet a protective one, allowing me to move through my day without becoming completely disillusioned. I am very much unseen but often end up spending most of my time “seeing” other people. The naked truth of this sight can be sobering. I have this other voice in my mind constantly taunting me, calling out to me when all I want to do is live my life. It teases me, telling me, “No, this is not you. This is not living.”

 

In moments such as these I read Rilke’s last line, “Better that it live fully aware, in the terror of its stars, than as if protected, soothed by what is near.” I am fully aware and live in a state of unrest knowing that this other is too vast and beautiful to comprehend. I have chosen to sit in this space rather than be soothed by what is near. Comfort will never be enough and I have learned to accept this even when it is lonely. I find solace in writing, people that understand the jagged pieces of my soul and the light. I feel it nearby at all times and for this I am grateful. In due time I will come home to this other and all will be right, but first I must live this life fully. I must learn the lessons meant for me and love as much as my tentative heart will allow. It is only in the living that I will be released back to where I am from…home.

 

Home is Where the Heart Is

Home is Where the Heart Is

 

 

The real voyage of discovery consists not in

seeking new landscapes but in having new

eyes.

—Marcel Proust

 

Restlessness is like an itch that can’t be scratched.  I have felt the intensity of this irritation many times in my life.  Usually it is expressed as a deep desire to run, change scenery, job and relationships. I naturally have a gypsy spirit and thrive on the challenge of metamorphosis, strange given my intense dislike of change. Ask anyone and they will tell you I am a true homebody. I like nothing more than a long relaxing day nesting in my own space and this apparent contradiction describes me in a nutshell. I waffle between two separate ends of a spectrum and quite literally live in the gray.

 

Over time, I have come to understand that it is not the geographic location in which I live, or the roof over my head that creates a stabilizing force.  It is the people, my family and loved ones that fill whatever space I inhabit with loving intention. As such, I have become especially adept at creating a loving “home” wherever I may be. I have owned homes, rented, lived with family, just about every living situation possible.  In each space I have inhabited, I do not ever recall a desire for anything beyond a warm blanket, food, and my loved ones to put my arms around. My ability to create a welcoming environment in a multitude of spaces has served me well. In addition, having been married for many years to an individual that was constantly on the run, craving new places in order to resolve old conflicts, I have found peace in remaining still for the moment.

 

Sea Fever

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,

And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,

And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,

And a gray mist on the sea’s face, and a gray dawn breaking.

 

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide

Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;

And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,

And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

 

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,

To the gull’s way and the whale’s way, where the wind’s like a whetted knife;

And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,

And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

—John Masefield

 

Being well into midlife, my heart’s longing for adventure has settled a bit as I have discovered new ways to explore life without seeking drastic change.  I have learned that I can act as a home base for others as they continue to explore the world, intrepid travelers they may be. The world may be swirling around them with so many unknowns, but the awareness that I am there as a constant can act as a reassuring and stabilizing force.

 

So how does one quench a constant thirst for adventure?  A restless spirit never goes away, it is just quieted by life’s demands.  My way of addressing this has been to focus this energy on topics that I am passionate about. I find satisfaction in guiding the next generation in my vocation. I feel resounding joy welcoming in my children’s extended circle of friends and I read voraciously, digesting new ideas and world views. All of these vehicles for exploration are representative of my restless spirit living and thriving out in the world.  

 

“A man sees in the world what he carries in his heart.”

― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

 

Everything I am searching for is within me and going on the journey of 1000 miles will do nothing for my growth when the ultimate adventure resides within. Maybe the challenge in life is to learn to see the opportunities for growth right under our nose, often the most difficult to recognize as they are far too familiar to draw attention.  In this instance, moving becomes a distraction, a temporary change of scenery that does not address any core issues. If I am lonely, sad or have lost my passion in life, it is a good possibility that I will still feel all these same emotions upon relocation.  You see, it is not place that creates stability, it is self. For all the same reasons I was able to create a home wherever my heart was, I would not find the answers I am seeking simply by a change in scenery.

 

Understand that restlessness is an energy that can be directed in many ways. Try to resist the urge to run and look for more creative opportunities in your own backyard. A restless heart is a explorative and expansive heart. Engage your restless heart in the here and now rather than on future possibilities that may or may not come to past. Feed your spirit with circumstances that engage you completely: mind, body and soul. Finally, continue to allow your heart to speak no matter the location in which you reside.