Day 1986 to Day 1993
My friend P-asked me if I’ve been painting. I haven’t painted in over 6 weeks, and I feel guilty.
Another friend asked me last week how my writing was going and she told me I should be so successful with my writing because I was so talented. I haven’t been writing enough lately, either. Am I supposed to be flattered or feel like a failure with the fact that I should be so much more successful than I am? I choose to be flattered and let my own judgement go – as much as my ego will allow me to do.
I watch my friends solving the world’s problems on the international stage and I wonder if I made the right choices and I ponder: when did I stop advocating for children’s rights and working to end child poverty? I can’t pinpoint the exact date or moment or choice to take a particular job that started to take me off that course. All I know is that today, I was thinking back to a former version of myself, which has been lost in the update to my operating system, and I feel guilty.
Maybe it seems noble to feel guilt over how little we seem to have become, despite all this valuable life experience. I wonder whether the value we place on life experience isn’t a little misplaced. Surely not all life experience helps us to be what we could become. That trip to India that changed the course of my studies, the job that took me into climate change and away from child poverty, the economic meltdown that took me to the City and out of sustainability, the breakup of that relationship that left me bleeding for the next few years…are these all helpful life experiences on the road to being and becoming, or do some of them just weigh me down as I drag them from scenario to scenario? There is a reason they call it baggage. It’s so darned heavy to carry around.
A friend shared with me, yesterday, a meme that went something like this: to truly love someone is to grieve, without blame, the death of many versions of our beloved, as they inevitably let their dreams die, let fall by the wayside those traits we found so charming, to be replaced with new traits that may or may not be as charming. If we only love the static version that we once fell in love with, that isn’t really love at all. I think it is a very popular form of psychosis, and our need to control our partner into remaining as a single mirage is the cause of ruin in many relationships. If we are willing to grieve and to face each new day with our partner, trying to see the unchanging soul within them, shouldn’t we also do that for ourselves? Are we also not beloved? I do believe that we are always the Beloved’s beloved, whose arms are always open wide, waiting for our hearts to turn towards Him so that we can dissolve into Him. There is no grief in that final annihilation.
I know that there are practical things that I need to change in my life and I’m impatiently waiting to be fully healed and ready to take on those challenges. I’ve heard it said that one ought to make life’s waiting room into life’s classroom. That’s all depends on where you’re at in life. Sometimes unlearning is far more important.
When asked if he was a Hindu, Swami Satchidananda always used to reply that he was not a Hindu, he was an Undo. Osho taught that we need to unlearn all of our conditioning. On the Sufi path, one is stripped of everything and laid bare in the face of an excruciatingly sublime love. Oh the spiritual path is not for the person who is piling on the bricks of the wall of their identity and fooling themselves that it is static or even that it is real. Jesus called upon his disciples to give up everything they knew about themselves and to eschew whatever lives they had built, to turn their hearts towards him and follow wherever he would take them.
My spiritual life is the most important part of my life and yet, sometimes I feel I pay lip service to that idea because I’m caught up in carrying the things of this world. But, I am tired. The weight of all this experience is too much to carry anymore. All the unmet needs from my childhood, all the dreams I’ve left by the roadside, all the aspirations and hopes that I still carry despite all the broken hearts, all the traumatic events of my life, and all the guilt for not doing more – all of it – got set down for a short while, today.
I sat on my sofa and looked at the clouds through the 12-foot window at the end of the room. And when the light in the sky changed intensity, I sat and marveled at all the values that on other days, I would normally perceive as simply gray. Watching the clouds, I remembered what it was like to do nothing. I wondered what it would be like to finally “become” nothing and walk the planet, being nothing.
Whatever I’ve done or not done, been or become, I’ve done my best, and the outcome was never in my hands. I was reminded that an aspect of my path is to grieve and let go of all the selves that have ever been, the self that I think I am and any selves that I would have ever hoped to be. Thy will be done.
I’m grateful for the time I spent today doing nothing and watching the clouds. I’m grateful for all the teachers who have tried to show me the way back Home. From the day that we are born, we are all in this waiting room of death that we call life. I am grateful for this deep experience of feeling “burdened” so that I could, in a single moment of watching clouds pass by, remember the waiting room for what it is. I can set down all this stuff that I carry. I can cast my attention skyward, turn my heart further toward Him, and yearn to die, as the Sufis say, before dying.