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Ten Thousand Days

Ten Thousand Days

A Year Ago Today and A Year From Today

May 27, 2020

Photo: el Camino de Santiago de Campostella.

Day 2111

Happy Birthday to Me.

A year ago, today, I was celebrating my birthday in Cape Cod, courtesy of a very generous gift from a long-time friend.  On the spur of the moment, I packed a bag and was gone for a long weekend, across the country.  It was a much longer trip than I’m used to, for a weekend getaway in Europe but it was a trip back in time to a girl I knew in acting school in New York.  We had a good time but neither of us could have predicted the way life would go down for me later in that summer or the way it would go down in the world, for the past 6 months and into the foreseeable future.

A year ago we celebrated my birthday and we celebrated a nearly life-long friendship.  It was a brief but glorious weekend crammed full of adventure and laughter.

This year, I had intended to be spend my birthday undertaking a pilgrimage on el Camino de Santiago de Compostela.  It was clear, last July, that my body was not going to cooperate for that to happen this summer.  World events made it impossible for me to make the trip and for my friend in Singapore to join me.  Maybe next year.  Maybe not.  So much right now is out of my control.

So, what would I like to see a year from now?  I have some goals and some ideas that I’d like to keep working away at seeing come to fruition.  I’m not convinced that I will still be living where I am but I suppose I might as well stay here until I’ve worked my way through the jars of pasta and rolls of toilet paper that I’ve collected to keep me from having to venture into stores.  I could begin to train for the physical demands of a pilgrimage and in that, use the time as a walking meditation so that a year from now, I will have deepened my practice.  There are a few relationships that are in various stages of blossoming and I’d like to tend the garden of my life, uprooting the plants that have spread beyond their borders and nurturing those that appear to be fruitful.

I have learned that its sometimes best not to talk about your goals (says she who has committed to living 10,000 days of gratitude!) because it takes the energy out of actually achieving those goals.  So, I keep a whiteboard in my home and on it are my goals and tasks that I think are worthy of more time.

During this pandemic lockdown, it seemed that time seemed to both speed up and slow down at the same time.  I know that I have never been this present for the spring ever before.  We are now removing restrictions on our activity and I’m not so sure that I want to create a great change in the way I spend my time.  I’d like to see some friends – physically distant, and I intend to work my garden and hopefully to get on the water at least a little bit this summer.  But I spend most of my day working at a job I don’t really enjoy.  My spare time is so very precious that recreation isn’t something I’m really itching to fill my time.  I have a lot I want to do and being creatively productive is the best recreation I can have – that and a paddle on a hot Sunday afternoon, of course.

I have spent a lot of time trying to escape this place where I live.  I don’t think I will be here for much longer but God has a funny way of messing with a human’s plan.  For someone who has a desire to renounce the world and go walkabout, it is interesting that I have found myself grounded by circumstance for longer than this pandemic.  In that grounding, the seeds of some beautiful long-distance friendships and the cultivating of long-distance spiritual fellowship has made my captivity into a hermitage.

One day I hope to travel el Camino de Santiago de Compostela but, as it is written, it is about the way and not the destination.  And that is a good thing to reflect upon as I celebrate another trip around the sun.

I don’t know where I will be a year from now.  None of us do.  This past year has taught me that tomorrow isn’t guaranteed and it certainly isn’t guaranteed to exist in a world that isn’t fundamentally changed.  I’m grateful for the physical requirement to stop and be still.  I’m also grateful for the global pause that we have been in.  Both were painful and will continue to be so.  But, I trust that it was what I needed to begin to get uncomfortable enough to stop and look before I go and move in another direction.  I’m grateful for the internal pilgrimage of the heart that I have undertaken, this past year, and I intend to continue slowing down and making each next footfall a meditation as I navigate this labyrinth called life.  Most of all, I’m so truly grateful to be alive and to have the good fortune to celebrate another year of grateful living.

Photo: Dilyara Garifullina

For what are you most grateful, today?

Ten Thousand Days

Collaboration Connection

May 26, 2020

Collaboration Connection: Ten Thousand Days of Gratitude, Love Me a Latte, Maria Filar and Ali the Unicorn.

Day 2109 – Day 2110

I have been neglecting this website during the pandemic.  I have been putting much more effort into my new YouTube channel and to a project that came to me during lockdown.

A few years ago, the social experiment on interpersonal closeness of Arthur Aron was made famous by a New York Times article about the 36 questions that lead to love.  At the time the article was published, I did my own experiment on Instagram to see if it could build community.  There were some interesting results but mostly, it was not successful.  I’m not sure that Instagram was the best platform for interacting and deepening closeness between people.

I’m not sure why YouTube didn’t occur to me.  YouTube has been a relatively recent addition to my social media experience and this year I have been very impressed with the way that Thoraya has used interviews with strangers to create a universal connection with the viewer.

Given that I have taken the journey of Ten Thousand Days of Gratitude to YouTube this year, I thought it would be an interesting experiment to attempt, once again.  For me, the idea of interpersonal closeness is interesting because it is the entry point for many people to a feeling of Oneness.  I enlisted some fellow YouTubers with channels of about the same size but in very different niches to see if 4 relative strangers could develop – in the context of lockdown and the rise of the Zoom conference – interpersonal closeness.

My collaborators and I have selected a portion of the 36 questions and each week, we either answer 3 questions on our own channels or we come together to share our answers on a Zoom call.  Not all of the responses are posted to my own channel but I have included all the videos on a playlist.

Every two weeks we also have been sharing our impressions with one another, using questions from Arthur Aron’s original experiment.

This week we enter into the final round of individual questions and next week we will have our last set of questions addressed in a group call, followed by a final sharing and wrap up.  It has been an interesting experiment and I’m not sure where we will land on that final day but I’m grateful that my collaborators were willing to be vulnerable enough to undergo an experiment in closeness with strangers.

I hope you will come over to YouTube to see how things turn out over the next 2, rather intimate, weeks.  If you’re interested in the entire process, you can watch all of the videos in my playlist here.

 

For what are you most grateful, today?

Ten Thousand Days

Dream Weaver

May 24, 2020

Day 2089 – Day 2108

Yesterday, I spent the day on spiritual retreat with my particular caravan of wayfaring souls.  For the past 9 months, I have been walking the line between delving deeply into the Christianity of my childhood and the mystical Sufi path that found me, later in life.

In my Sufi lineage, we use dreams as a form of ancient storytelling that reveals the transformation that is calling to be undergone in the soul.  It is also in our dreams where the Beloved does works on our hearts.  I have been reconciling my two paths and I do not believe the Sufi practices betray my Christianity because I had my first mystical experience when I was a child.  Jesus came to me in a dream and called me to the path.

I’ve been following a thread of a dream that began sometime late last summer.  I dreamed of a man I knew of but had never met.  He was with his brother and we were tentatively touching fingers like children in love.  There was an innocence to this flirtation but also an unquestionably pure love.  What a delightful dream to have had.

He’s a handsome fellow so I thought it might be simply a nocturnal expression of a bit of a crush.

I got to know this man – in a sense – through the internet.  He felt like a kindred spirit and we have an awful lot in common.  We also lead very different lives in different parts of the continent and we have different experiences of the world based on being born in different decades.  I like him, and I have an interest in knowing him, more deeply.

In the early part of this year, I started seeing repeating number sequences.  I wondered if this man, who was appearing in my intense dreams, might be linked to it.  I read about the idea of a Twin Flame and I’m not sure such a thing exists.  Maybe it does.  Maybe it doesn’t.  In this, there is a mystery that I may never solve.  But, I tend to put more stock in Jung than in new age concepts.  The thing about mysticism is that there is very little of which we are sure when we are invited to follow a thread.

Around the same time as the number patterns started to appear, I had another dream.  This time I dreamed I met the man for the first time, in person.  He had two sons with him.  They were about 8 or 9 years old.  I tried to talk with him but his children just wanted to play with me and so they grabbed my hands and pulled me away to play.  I awoke with the same feeling as I’d had in my first dream: a real innocent and pure feeling of love.  I wondered if the dream was perhaps literally telling me that I’m not going to meet this man.  Or, if I do, it won’t be for a long time – at least a decade or more – when he’s settled in his life with these two young boys.

In my waking state, the same man has pushed some buttons and triggered some wounds that originated in my childhood and I’ve had to work them through and heal those places that are still tender.  In the time he has been in the internet of my life, I’ve been quite inspired and irritated by him, at different times.

About a month ago, I dreamed that I was travelling the 101 in Oregon and I was listening to the radio.  I was not on the highway.  I was on the long, winding, remote Pacific Coast highway, where the wind whips the waves ashore and where an individual soul meets the sea.  A young Cat Stevens was also driving the same roads and talking on the radio, and I was listening.  I entered the town CLOSD, Oregon, just as he said he was arriving there, too.  The streets were empty and I called in to the radio station to say hi to him. Driving down the road, a vintage Chevy convertible caught up beside me and in the back seat was Cat, playing his guitar and singing for me.  I waved hello and as we came to a stop at a traffic light he asked me out for a coffee date.

Now, Cat Stevens was before my time and he is no longer Cat Stevens.  He is Yusuf Islam, now.  As much as it was a young Cat in the dream, in my heart, I knew it was the energy of that same man who has been in my innocent dreams filled with images of children.  I don’t think the man who appears in my dreams is even aware of such a thing as a Sufi path, but Cat Stevens latest song, I discovered after this dream, was based on Sufi poetry.  Maybe it was telling me that I’m on the right path – at least, spiritually – to follow this thread.

I wondered if the boys in my second dream were not the same two boys from my first dream, at a much younger age.  I wondered if they were he and his brother.  If they were, then I’m so glad I played with them.

This past week, I had another dream.  This time, I was walking and talking with his adult self again, meeting him for what seemed the be – again – the first time.  This time there was a girl child.  She was young – maybe 5 or 6 years old.  She jumped into an abandoned and dried up cistern.  He was about to go in and rescue her but she refused and insisted that it be me that come for her to hold her and take her home.

Yes, I know that girl child was me.

Yesterday, as is our practice, I got to share the whole series of dreams.   I can’t pretend to know the entire meaning of them but the symbolism and imagery is so lovely, pure and sweet.

There was a trauma that I experienced at that age that the little girl was, in my most recent dream.   I blocked it out – even at the time.  My very best friend in the world died of a hole in her heart.  If there is a more Sufi way to die, I don’t know what it would be.  In her death, she left a hole in my own heart and in that space, God entered.

There is some healing to be done here, for the psyche of that little girl.   But after today, I have a profound appreciation for the gift that my friend left when she went home to heaven.

I’m grateful for this man who has been walking with me and singing to me and helping to weave my dreams.  Something seems to have shifted between us in the real world, and I don’t know if our inner journey is over, or if it has just begun.   He has taken me to a scary place where I probably would not have had the courage to go, alone.  For that I am grateful. The thing about these inner journeys is one can make the mistake of assuming that they represent a waking connection that goes beyond the symbolic or that even if a connection exists, that the other person is consciously aware of it.  Awareness, it should be remembered, is no guarantee that a person is ready to embrace the mystical or spiritual.  In any case, I am grateful for what has been, on the inner.   I am thankful for his gentle companionship and sometimes direction, on this journey.

I am grateful for the companionship of the wayfarers on this caravan, who listened to my story and held the threads as my waking self wove all of these beautiful dreams together.  There is a great mystery in the middle of it all and perhaps that is the thing for which I am most grateful.

In my meditation, I asked about this living and breathing internet man who has been weaving dreams with me.  I was given something to do and it seems quite weird.  I’m going to have to wait and listen until I know how to do what I’ve been asked to do.  But do it, I shall.  The last time I was given direction by the Beloved, in a meditation, it was also about someone with whom I had been dream walking.  I second-guessed the instruction and I didn’t follow what I was told to do.

I lived and learned a very tough lesson.

I had not seen it before my dream, but Yusuf/Cat Stevens posted this video the very day I dreamed about him.  I will continue to follow this thread, not knowing why or what will happen.

For what are you most grateful, today?

Ten Thousand Days

250 Words

May 4, 2020

Photo: Kai Gradert

Day 2071 – Day 2088

I am overdue for a post.  There is much that I could write about, whether it be my observations of the collective or of myself.  Yet, there is little that I wish to share. I sit at the computer, a little bit stuck.  When I first started creative writing after a long absence, I set myself the task of writing 250 words a day.  I could sit at my page for 2 hours or write 250 words – whichever came first.  Only then was I free wander with my camera.

I’m too busy to spend 2 hours not writing.  I’ve got a tax return to prep and loads of work to do; 250 words it is.  And there, I get stuck.  I have no story to offer as I’m in the middle of unravelling a ball of yarn in my intuitive mind, that is tangled.  What it will reveal is anyone’s guess.  There’s a lot of fear in the collective right now but this is not fear.  It is something else.  Something I’ve never felt, before.  For it, there are yet no words.

I’m grateful to Sutton Hospital for teaching to pace my energy and to always set a low bar that I could meet even on the worst of days, and that I have applied this to writing.  I’m grateful to the reader for indulging my creative process.  I have nothing of wisdom to offer at this moment; But, I do have 250 words.

 

For what are you most grateful, today?

Ten Thousand Days

Brave Words

April 16, 2020

Photo: Armand Koury

Day 2062 – Day 2070

A few weeks ago, I entered a literary writing contest.  It was the first piece of writing that I’ve submitted to a contest or, well, anything, since the Modern-Day Monsters playwright’s competition that devastated me with reader’s comments that questioned my mental health.  The reader didn’t seem to consider that a play is not always written in a straight-ahead manner.  Dark comedies are usually pretty dark because the envelope has to be pushed to the edge of comfort to make an audience laugh.

I procrastinated.  I knew that there was a deadline looming but I procrastinated.  I was just editing an old piece of writing, I reasoned.  How difficult could it be?  And then, it was the day of the deadline and I had not even looked at the old piece.  A friend used it to teach creative non -fiction at a University level, so it must have been fairly reasonably written.  Unless, I panicked, it had been chosen as an example of what NOT to do when writing non-fiction.

The self-doubt didn’t stop there.  This was, after all, the top literary contest in Canada.  The expectation was that works would be ‘literary.’  I took my piece and pimped it up, adding metaphor and imagery that had been lacking in the original.  I cringe now, thinking of how I may have ruined a sparse piece of writing with hackneyed metaphors just to be more of what I perceive to be ‘literary.’  I’m not a fan, but Hemingway did a pretty good job with writing that was sparse.

A couple of weeks later, another friend was running a writer’s workshop that used lines of poetry as a kickoff for timed writing.  We had to read our works to the rest of the group and I felt a little nervous to share with all these women I did not know.  I had written bravely, from the gut, and it was not comfortable for me to lay out my innards for all to see and then recoil them back when I was done, without the benefit of feedback.  I didn’t like that, and I’m not sure what to make of that.  I think I would prefer to either workshop a piece or write bravely and keep it for myself.  Exhibitionism of one’s soul without validation of being ‘seen and heard’ just seemed to push all kinds of buttons on old childhood wounds.  I can be grateful for the takeaway that I have some work to do around my ego and my writing.

I don’t like the way I pimped up my old piece.  Maybe I’m not a literary writer.  And maybe that’s okay.  I’d like to think that what I am is a brave writer who writes brave words and if even one reader is moved by my writing, then I have done my job.  We have made a connection, through time and space, that is meaningful.  Literary or not, that is art.

I’m finding myself in a place in life, or maybe just in this weird global pause where untrue words and frivolous use of my talent does not sit well with me.  I try not to get too heavy on my YouTube channel, but I have some pretty heavy things I want to address.  Maybe that’s just me.  Nobody ever called me shallow.

This week I reached out to someone with  an email that, were I to receive it, would feel pretty intense.  I wondered why I was writing it and there were really two reasons.  Firstly, in the writing, a small miracle was worked in my heart and something with which I have struggled just seemed to lay itself out in perfect clarity for me.  And, in laying that out, I have said the most important things one person can say to another.  It wasn’t a love letter in the traditional billet-doux fashion, but it was a letter that was filled with love.  It could have been shorter, but it could have been longer, too.  What needed to be said has been said, and what it does in the heart of the receiver is out of my hands.  They were brave words.

I’m grateful for this gift I have to put one word in front of the other.  I’ve always known that it is probably my mightiest tool if I choose to use brave words to convey something that is truth.  Is there absolute truth?  I don’t know, but I do believe so.  I also think we all know when someone is communicating from a place of truth, and I’m grateful for those moments when I can do so.  I’m also grateful that a good portion of what I write hits that chord.

I think that in days to come we will all be called to bear witness to the truth.  I am grateful that I have several people in my life who I believe will stand alongside me and utter brave words to a world that has fallen deaf.

I’ve been sick for most of this month of quarantine and I wish I had another month to use each day to do the things that are meaningful and that matter.  I don’t know what will come but this pause has affirmed that there is purpose in this gift of words that has been given to me.

I wonder how others have been re-evaluating their lives, under lockdown.

Photo: Deva Darshan

For what are you most grateful, today?

Ten Thousand Days

For Every Number, There Is A Name

April 7, 2020

Photo: Tim Mossholder

Day 2056 – Day 2061

Yesterday started out great.  It was sunny.  I was up early.  I wrote a post that I knew needed work but I had time to fix it.  I made a nice brunch to enjoy outside and I made a video.  Things were looking pretty good.  Good, if you ignore the fact that what I wrote was unpublishable.  Great, if you also ignore the fact that, for a 3-minute video, I recorded 42 minutes of me, talking to the camera, about how I wasn’t doing okay.

Maybe we’re all doing less great than we want to admit.  I try to be of service by offering inspiration but even cheerleaders get to rest between games.

I have been watching underground news since January and planning for the worst-case scenario at home and for the company where I work, since early February.  I’ve had the heaviness of how bad things could get resting on my heart for a very long time.  It was a burden that many people mocked back then.  I think many people are still in denial.  Last week I wondered why every nation isn’t flying their flags at half-mast.  The fact that we are not doing this seems like a sign that we really haven’t grasped the tragedy that has been unfolding, for months.

I don’t think we should all be falling apart and unable to get out of bed, although after my 42-minute soliloquy, I did have to lay down, for most of the day, under the weight of things.  For me, there is a sense of alienation that is not the result of living alone and having no in-person contact with another human being for more than 2 weeks.   As happened during 9/11, I feel a chasm opening up between myself and so many people.

Humour and positivity helped me to face being sick and to adjust to my circumstances, during the first 2 weeks of my quarantine.  But it seems to me that much of the humour I see on my Facebook feed and elsewhere just focuses on first world problems (I’ve been guilty of sharing and even making some of it), when the tragedy is a global one and it impacts the poor and vulnerable, disproportionately.  Humour can help us cope, that is for sure.  But humour can feed denial.  I think humour is a way to help us process tragedy, when circumstances are temporarily difficult.  It helps us bridge from the time before to the time after, so that we can resume our lives.

The thing is, I don’t think we can resume our lives, as they were.  Systemic change is here, whether we like it or not.  Personal transformation, for those willing to be moved, is available to all of us as well.   The number of people whose lives have been impacted in all but 9 (as of this morning) countries in the world is almost impossible to comprehend.  Never before in my lifetime has the entire world been impacted by threat and tragedy, at the same time.  For every number there is a name.  For every name there is a story and a decision of how they will bear witness to the greater story that is unfolding.

I have the unwelcome gift of being an empath as well as some weirder gifts that I only discovered in 9/11.  When so many souls are leaving the planet at the same time, the energetic and emotional toll is heavy on me and I’ve been running from it.  Until yesterday, I had been able to get by with partially armouring my heart.  I would sit in meditation, listening to the birds, but not truly meditating.  When I sat on Sunday, everything caught up with me and I was shaken.  I felt unbalanced and began to unravel.  Yesterday, I knew I had to stop running, open my heart, and just grieve.

I can’t be a cheerleader today.  It is right for me to cry.  It is right for me to have a shattered heart.  I can’t talk about a pandemic in abstract terms.  And I really cannot laugh about it.  For every number, there is a name.  For every name, there was a final moment, alone, somewhere.  Last words of love that are forever unspoken.  Souls left wandering, in shock.

I can’t continue to cheer us on,  like we’re all going to be okay.  Because if we are okay when 1.4 million people have officially tested positive for the virus and 76,000 people have already died, then who are we?  If, as a species, we can be okay when the UN warns that 2 million Bangladeshis could die, and globally, mortuaries have been unable to cope with the volume of the dead, then I don’t want to be a part of this species.

I know that may sound judgemental to some people.  Maybe it is.  I am pretty firm in some of my core values, which is out of fashion.  In our work as spiritual beings, let us not condemn others for being who they are, and for feeling what they do.  But, let us not forget that a spiritual life is sacred and having discernment in one’s companions honours the sacred.

I’m so grateful today for the friends that went through 9/11 with me, in New York.  On a smaller scale, we have been through a way-of-life changing event together, already.  There is an unbreakable bond that forms with the people who survive a trauma like that, together.  I’m so grateful that many of them are still in my life, even though we are scattered far apart from one another.  I’m also grateful for my spiritual circles, from New York to India to London to Vancouver and to online circles.   I have many friends but I feel that if I can’t bring my spiritual self to the table, I’m only bringing a shell of myself to the relationship.  I don’t want to do that, anymore.  It is essential for me to be able to be authentic and fully present. I am grateful to the young and handsome man for bringing his gift of wounding to the places where I most need to heal, even as I need to slow down my evolution to a manageable pace.   As much as it hurts, I am actually grateful that I’m able to feel all this global pain, instead of being shut down or in denial.  I think we will all get to the sadness part of the cycle of this grief, in our own time and in our own way.  Right now, it means that I need to turn the dial up my self-care.

Last night I listened to Jesus Christ Superstar.  I listened to the various versions till I found the one that was circulating in my house when I was a child (Murray Head/Ian Gillan, I think).  I went to Catholic primary school and religious studies was part of the curriculum, but  I truly did have a first impression of the gospels as being sung, Rock Opera style.  Music is a great salve and they say that the sense of smell is the most linked to memory but for me, listening to that album took me back to a young version of myself – somewhere around the 11 year-old mark.  She was a very open-hearted girl and was in love with Jesus.  Tapping into her spirit and to the passion of Christ made the tears flow for the suffering that fills the world, today.

For every number, there is a name.  I could not sense every individual, but I started witnessing their passing and, where needed, gently helping some of those thousands of souls on their onward journey.  There is more to come.  I have a headache this morning from it.  But, my heart feels more malleable and at peace.  I’m ready to meditate, to pray, to have strong boundaries and to practice good self-care so that I can serve again.  It may look like I’m doing nothing when I sit in prayer and meditation for most of the day, topped off with time for mourning, but I know that this is the best work that I have ever done.

Photo: Aaron Burden

For what are you most grateful, today?

Love, Ten Thousand Days

Love in the Time of COVID-19

April 1, 2020

Photo: Leighann Blackwood

Day 2047 – Day 2055

I spent the late afternoon on my balcony garden, watering my tulips with my tears.  Today, the first person I know (that I know of, at this time) lost his battle with COVID-19. To be sad at the passing of a life from this world into another is a very human response.  He was not really my friend, in fact.  He was the husband and essential person in the life of a woman who is a very dear friend to me.  And it is for both of them that I cried.  It is a hazard of love that our heart will break along with those hearts for whom we have love.

When my heart breaks, I am nearer to my Beloved Divine than when I’m coasting through life.

I see memes and articles about how it is hard to be single during this time of self-isolation.  I think this is the perfect time to be single.  The world has reduced love to a swipe screen of photographs like an online shopping cart as if we can fall in love in the same dispassionate way that we can decide if we want carrots or broccoli in our weekly shop.  I think for all those that meet on apps and make a life together, there are a dozen more encounters that were terribly empty.

I am a romantic.  I have always been a romantic. When I was a child, my first love was a man in white who came to me in my dreams.  I had a spiritual call very early, and my path was to be the path of love.  In difficult times, my faith is fortified not because I can make sense of the world and what is happening, but because I turn my heart, and the Heart of Hearts turns to me.

About a week ago, my good friend WRDSMTH posted one of his WRDS and it really struck me.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the repeating numbers that I was seeing – specifically 11:11.  It is said that this is the number of the Twin Flame and it also represents a spiritual gateway.  I knew, when I wrote the piece, who that twin flame was.  It took me a few weeks of seeing the numbers and scoffing at the idea that the person who first came to mind might be my twin flame, but eventually the gravity of that awareness rested within me.  I know who it is.  I knew him before he came into my life.  I realize that I painted him out of my subconscious, 2 years before I ever encountered him.

I don’t know how to incorporate this idea of a twin flame into my existing belief structure.  I don’t even know if it is a real thing, or what it means.  What I can tell you is that I’m aware of a deep connection to someone on every level, but most certainly on a spiritual level.  I first connected to him over spiritual issues and then became aware that I could hear him in my heart.  We have an awful lot in common but that is just surface.  I hear him, in my heart.

Yes, that sounds crazy.  I’ve even asked professionals if I might be crazy.  I’m not crazy.  The fact that we question the spiritual at times like this is crazy.

The path of the mystic is that of the madman who must trust, and dwell in the not knowing.

Even though I don’t know what to say about it, what it is or, really, anything, I don’t believe I’d have happened upon and have been made aware of this relationship if it isn’t the will of the Divine that I know it.  And if the Divine is making me aware of something that seems weirdly magical, I’m going to do everything I can to remain open to whatever happens.

I’ve spent weeks and months trying to talk myself out of this and telling myself it is crazy.  I still struggle to trust my own knowing of what I know.  But there is one thing that I know.

I know exactly who I love and where I want to be.

Love rejoices in the truth.

As I witness the brevity of earthly love, in the passing of my friend’s husband, I want to call out to he that lives inside my heart: “Don’t waste time!!! We could be dead tomorrow. Let’s ground this in reality, now.” But I must learn to trust in Divine timing.  Maybe it will happen when this quarantine is over and all the souls have been released.  And maybe it will not happen in this lifetime.

Love is patient.  Love is kind.

Knowing it may not happen in this lifetime, I can’t let my wishing it could be so be a distraction from the spiritual awareness that it has brought to me.  And then there is this: just because I am aware of this connection, it does not mean that he is aware or welcoming of the crazy-making awakening that this brings.  All gentle gestures I have made toward him, in the real world, have gone unanswered.  I have to respect that boundary.  The heart longs for spiritual companionship but it also yearns to fulfill the wishes of the one that is loved.  Maybe I’m not what he wants, in the real world, in this lifetime.  And so, I need to learn to walk the line between remaining open and stepping back.

Love is not proud, rude or self seeking.

This year, I have been ruminating on the link between gratitude and love.  And, I’ve been called to begin to tell the stories of love. We may never meet.  Although I would prefer to be with him, as crazy as it sounds, I know we are together, on the inner planes, always.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends.

I am so grateful to be awake to this love.  Whether he walks with me or not, I will gratefully burn in the fire of this spiritual love and allow a quickening.   I am grateful that the spiritual work that either of us does seems to benefit the other.  And I am grateful that this love is a taste of the sweetness and the madness that is being lost in the love of the Divine.

This is my first story of love.

This is love, in the time of COVID-19.

 

Ten Thousand Days

Fragile

March 23, 2020

Photo: Antonio Poveda Montes

Day 2040 – Day 2046

Last week I was talking with a friend and what has struck me with the way things have gone down this week, is how fragile we are.

We have become a world that is pretty smug with all our machine-learning and virtual assistants.  We have more inequality than we have had in modern times, but we are a more affluent world than we’ve ever been.  We’ve gotten used to everything on demand and innovation solving all our problems.  We are pretty self-satisfied and we think we’ve got it all figured out.  We see people acting in a certain way and we think we have their number. We have built skyscrapers and driverless transportation systems.  We fly through the air, stopping here and there and having weekend breaks to Vegas, Vienna, Barcelona, Zanzibar and beyond.  We’ve got it made and we are the Apex predator.  We’re the big cheese, the big man/woman/person on campus.  In our smugness, we have forgotten just how fragile and precious this little life we have been gifted really is.  And we have not only killed God.  We have become God.  When Oppenheimer quoted the Baghavad Gita in reference to the testing of the first atomic bomb, we should have learned our lesson about replacing God with technology.  As Oppenheimer said, quoting Shiva:  “Now I have become death, the destroyer of worlds.”

The fact is that right now, our faith in technology is failing us.  There are not enough ventilators, beds, or PPE for our medical staff.  We are running out, globally, of a key chemical used for testing. We believed in the myth of technology but planned for Amber risk.  We never planned for Catastrophic scenarios, because technology would save us first.

And the second fact that is salient right now is that with all our technology and all our wealth, we are but a fragile bit of sentient organic matter.  Our worth to the world, if we boiled down our elements, would be just a few dollars.  With all our knowledge and all our money, all our perceived power over one another, in a swift movement across the planet, an organism 1/1000 the size of a human hair is taking us out by the thousands, perhaps the hundreds of thousands, or millions, before we’re done.

Woah, wait, you came here for gratitude, a bit of joy, to feel connected and served.  Well, if we can dwell in the sublime truth of our fragility we will see, without hesitation, how connected we all are.  Only by honouring our connection, being laid out in stark detail in every ER in the world, will we survive this moment in history.  Never before in my lifetime has it been so clear: What I do, what you do, affects the rest of the world.

Maybe the profound truth was revealed to some of us early on.  But the herd? Well the human psyche is fascinating. When faced with our powerlessness, the first thing most of us do is to deny reality.

As late as mid-week last week there was still a cultural story here in Canada that we had to somehow waste energy and precious time managing the threat that those who called in sick could be taking a free ride, bunking off of work.  Within two days our city was in a state of emergency and everything but essential services were supposed to shut. There are fines being imposed for failure to apply social distancing and self-isolation.

Borrowing from Kubler Ross, when a threat comes upon us we go between panic (bargaining) and denial for the first while.  Because of the denial, we are often forced into situations we didn’t choose, for our own good.  I think of the way lower Manhattan, where I lived and worked, was closed down to anyone but residents/first responders during 9/11.  Some people were still in denial, heading to work, even as people were fleeing the area below Christopher St/4th Ave. The police, and then the National Guard, turned people back.

Denial can look a lot like a good sense of humour.   I am all for a good laugh – even gallows humour.  The laugh fortifies us as we slowly let the truth sink in.

What comes after our panicked bargaining response and our denial (which seems to resurface as we bounce between emotions) is probably depression.  This week, when I have tried to meditate, I find it incredibly difficult.  My heart is so heavy with what is happening in our world.  In case you haven’t noticed, they’ve stopped leading the news with global statistics.  The numbers are just too big for us to process in this COVID-19 pandemic.  The last time I recall it being the lead, we were talking about just over 100K cases.  I found today’s numbers.  We are over 400K, globally, of all the cases confirmed.  I would not be surprised if the number of presumptive cases for which tests are not offered is an order of magnitude higher.

Denial will kill so many people.

What worries me is what comes next.  When the anger hits us all, how then will we cope?  I can only hope that we will remember our humanity, then.

I’ve seen some people out and about, taking social distancing and isolation very lightly, even in the midst of a state of emergency.  Non-essential businesses are still open.  When I’m fighting to breathe or my friend or family member is fighting to breathe, how will I forgive that person who just had to go skiing or go to the island for a weekend getaway, or congregate with friends at the beach to watch the sunset, or take their car in for servicing – all during a state of emergency or disaster?

My anger is already here.  I’m locked in my house and I’m going to give into it with a full force so that I can work it through and move on to acceptance.  I’m grateful for a lifetime of personal growth work that gives me the tools and the resilience to meet my dragon and let her rip, without smashing up someone’s car, their reputation or a friendship.  Well, let’s be honest here.  If you are someone who was cavalier in this crisis, the fate of our friendship is already sealed.  Perhaps you will be right and I was over reacting.

I would love to be wrong.

And let’s not even begin to talk about whether our unsustainable lifestyles have had a part to play in this, when so many of us have been sounding the alarm for decades.  I can’t talk about it, but I will feel it and move through it.

I’m grateful to have seen societies with weak infrastructure, many times.  I have seen how fragile are the systems on which we rely.  I’m grateful to have studied complex emergency and been a Risk Manager/Business Continuity and Crisis Manager in a global organization.  I know how to plan for the worst, even if it is unlikely to happen.  I know how to escalate response.  I know all this and even I was thrown by how fast we went from business as usual to High Risk with preparations for a Catastrophic scenario.  I’m grateful to be humbled.

At the moment there is not a lot of joy in my life except in being able to come together with others in solidarity and to attempt to be of service to others.  I fear for the world when the anger hits.  My hope is that we can all remember our Oneness and move through the anger and sadness without violence.

Our bodies, our psyches, our world is fragile.

If you are feeling it like I am, and you are being crushed under the weight of what is happening, if you are saddened or furious, I invite you to go deep into it and feel it.  Feel it for all it’s worth and let it give you the wisdom that is at the heart of every phase of our collective grief.  But, please, don’t take it out on those around you, no matter what jerks they’ve been.  I invite you to bring your darkness here, and let it rip in the comments. Bring it here, lay it all down and let it go.  My comment section can take it.  Your partner’s face, your neighbour’s car – they’re off limits.  Use my comment section.  I won’t publish it if you want to vent. It goes into moderation already; I’ll clean it up later.

As we said, in Manhattan, in the days following 9/11:  Take care of yourself.  Take care of each other.

In our lifetimes, the stakes have not been higher.

 

Photo: Filip Mroz

 

For what are you most grateful, today?

 

Gratitude Practice, Ten Thousand Days

Rolling With It

March 16, 2020

Photo: Mauro Mora

Day 2027 – Day 2039

I’m a bit late in uploading a post.  I have been extremely busy – and not in a fun way.  But I’m rolling with the punches. I hope you are, too.

Some of the work I do comes into full force in times like these and I’d like to get past the work that is very earth bound and practical (and to be honest, really hard on the heart) so that I can get to what I feel is my real work at this time.  I have been so busy with my day job that I have, I’m displeased with myself to admit, let my spiritual work slide a bit in the past week.  On Thursday I was feeling so stressed out by a combination of the work I am doing and the response I’ve been receiving that I was stress eating everything in sight.  I’m grateful for the love and support of some good friends, particularly CMF, who helped me remember who I am and the worth in what I’m doing.  I got it together and I am doing what I can to bring my professional skills to a sometimes-unwilling client.  And, I am taking care of myself and my family (I’m single, no kids, so that is extended family).

There is a lot of panic buying and we are seeing the worst in people coming out.  There is nothing wrong in being prepared and in fact, I think it is our civic duty to one another that we get prepared to stay home for a good long time.  But we don’t need to run over the old ladies and push toddlers out of the way to get that last packet of toilet paper.  When I see it in the store, I buy a single pack because I know that my father, my sister, my nephew, or my aunt will need it.  I’m good, I’ve got what I need.  And so, when I’m out buying my bok choy and other fresh veg each week, I shop for my circle.  We all can do that.  I know a co-worker struggled to get a certain brand of gluten free pasta.  When I was in the store, I saw some of it on sale for 2 for $4 and I bought 2.  I didn’t buy 10.  There will be enough for all of us.  I preserved my garden last year, and I have more dehydrated kale than anyone would ever wish to have to eat. (This year, I will not plant 9 kale plants. I bought a flat of seedlings and couldn’t give the stuff away to other gardeners.  Now I know why!  Anyway, 3 will be enough for fresh kale all season, so I’m seeding my own seedlings).  We all, if we calm down a bit, and look in our larder, probably have enough to eat for the next month.  The people who don’t are those who live very close to the poverty line or who have no space to store food.  Relax.  Leave something on the shelves for them.

Today I will go to the post office, and on a battery run (check the battery in your thermometer and consider having a spare).  I’m doing that on behalf of a whole bunch of folks.  If we work together, we can minimize our contacts and maximize our social distancing.

I have a busy week ahead as we begin to implement some of my recommendations but I’m grateful that I decided not to work the whole weekend and I took some down time to go out in the sunshine, even though it was blowing my hair off with the winds through the prairie, here.  And, I’m grateful that I opted to pick up some flowers and some potted plants.  I will pick up some more seeds and seedlings tomorrow in anticipation of planting a lovely garden on my deck in a few weeks.  My job is not one that has a work – from – home option but if I do get stuck at home, I want to be surrounded by beautiful flowers.

I am grateful, too, for the creativity of my friends who are organizing online concerts and online body music classes.  If I get stuck at home, I’d have loads of things to occupy my time!  And, I’m hoping that if the world slows down a little, we will all have time to catch up via Skype or Zoom or whatever networking programme you use.

I’m really busy for the next few weeks with work that is important to be done right now.  But I didn’t want to let slide the other important things in my life, like marking my journey of gratitude.  This has been hastily written but I think you will forgive me for my messy hair and lack of punctuation.  The key in the gratitude journey is to just keep showing up.

We see a lot of ugly in people right now.  I’m guessing that this obsession with toilet tissue has to do with our primal fear.  Poo is pretty base chakra stuff.  And, having toilet roll is a mark of modernization and civilization, in many of our psyches.  As long as we have toilet roll, our civilization will not crumble and in a world where the great threat is something we cannot see or control, the one thing we can control is our poo and how civilized we are about it.  I get it.  But civilization is about being civil to one another.  I know we are remembering that, and I’m grateful to see that happening.  If you panicked, I forgive you, and let’s get back to working together as a civilization.  Sh*t’s gotten pretty real in Asia and Europe already.  It’s about to get real in North America and Australia too.  Let’s roll with it, and look out for ourselves as well as looking out for each other.

Remember, that in dark times there is so much goodness, too.  If you can’t see the goodness, then I encourage you to BE the goodness in your world.  Help someone who needs some help getting prepared or is in isolation, today.  Share some of your toilet tissue with others.

 

Photo: Hello-I’m-nik

 

 

For what are you most grateful, today?

Love, Meditation, Ten Thousand Days

11:11

March 3, 2020

Photo: Hennie Stander

Day 2021 – Day 2026

Throughout my life, I have seen repeating numbers and knew it was supposed to mean something, according to New Age texts.  I just never really gave it much thought.  Several weeks ago, I started seeing repeating numbers every time I looked at the clock. It started with the number 11:11 and I saw that over and over again and ignored it.  So, I started seeing other strange combinations like 3:33 or 5:55.  I saw 5:55 an awful lot and dismissed it as simply being an indication that maybe it was time to leave the office for the day.  I also saw 8:18 an awful lot.  That is the time that I was born, so I dismissed it as selective attention.  When I started seeing 23:23, I started getting annoyed.

There is a lot of new age spiritual mumbo jumbo out there as to what number series mean.  I don’t buy into that.  But, there are ancient systems of numerology where number series have meaning.  I am not versed in them.  Some people say 11:11 is a twin flame number – I don’t know what that is or if it is a real thing.  If I’m going down the mumbo jumbo route, I’m more inclined to believe that 11:11 is an invitation to a spiritual gateway.  Even that sounds hippy dippy to me.  But, what I can say is that I am grateful for feeling annoyed by the constant series of repeating numbers filling my life, if only for one reason – it has made me pay very careful attention.

This morning I awoke at 4:44. Okay.  I’m paying attention.

About two weeks ago I was lamenting to someone that I have never had the benefit of a mentor, even though I really feel that I could use one.  I have this particular situation where I feel really lost.  I can see that I am doing work that others are doing and I want to network with my colleagues but I am stymied.  I don’t know what to say to them.  I’m not sure what the value proposition is.  And I’m frustrated.  I need a mentor.

As soon as I expressed that feeling, I got an email of an offer for some discounted mentoring from someone who knows what they’re talking about.  Now, it is not someone involved in that circle of colleagues but it is someone who can help me figure out how to use the tools at my disposal to put myself out there.  I’m grateful for that email and I’m looking forward to our session that will happen, tomorrow.

I feel like the energy of the world is changing and this is happening very quickly, now.

I’m also grateful for what appears to be a heightened sense of intuition and connection to certain people.  I probably can’t explain this but there are people in my life with whom I am feeling vibrationally connected in a very intense way.  There are even some people that I only know on the internet with whom I am feeling strangely in-tune. With my increased intuition and intense connection, I am experiencing a lot of profound and intense love.  I sometimes wonder if I’m not a bit weird or if I have a brain tumour.  Intuition is something that nobody really teaches us to understand, in modern times.  I am grateful, in this, that I have a spiritual group to whom I can bring my weirdness.

The world is in a very tumultuous place right now with the news filled with stories of a worldwide pandemic, panic buying, stock market plunges and G7 rapid action to stem off a worldwide recession.  I remember my yoga guru Swami Satchidananda used to say that we are all like oranges.  When we get squeezed, we will see what is truly inside of us.

What is inside of us? Fear and darkness? Or, love and light?

Photo: Jon Tyson

For what are you most grateful, today?

Happiness, Meditation, Nature, Ten Thousand Days

Sail on Silver Girl

February 26, 2020

Photo: Vidar Nordii Mathisen

Day 2015 – Day 2020

One of my favourite YouTubers has a habit of quoting lines from songs of the 1960s when he’s vlogging.  I’ve noticed, over the years on my blog, that I do this too, sometimes.

I have a weekend of fabulousness ahead!  I’m heading over to Vancouver Island and then onward to the Gulf Islands, for a meditation retreat with my old spiritual group.  I’m first going to spend the day singing with Moira Smiley and maybe I’ll have a chance to hit one of the museums in Victoria before or afterward.  I’m not sure whether I will intersect with my long-time friend TCBC this time or not, but I am hoping to get to see the Natural History Museum (of London)’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at some point.  If I don’t see it this time, I’ll be making another trip back.

I am really most excited to be seeing my spiritual group again.  We are silent sitters and so, excited is probably not the best feeling to be bringing into lots of silent meditation.  But, I’ve missed them so.  There is truly something magical that happens when we sit together in silence.  When I left London, my great consolation was that there was a long time group in this tradition that meets in Vancouver.  Alas, when I finally made the decision to request to join the tradition, my teacher retired and then the meditation group leader retired and closed the group, within months of one another.

Well.  If you’ve finally decided to take spiritual maturity seriously, there is nothing like being cast out of the circle and being left on your own, to test you.  It is within the parameters of this tradition to cast out a seeker in order to deepen their practice.  But, I can’t take this personally.  It happened to many of us, all at once.  Over the roughly two years that our group has been apart, I’ve been through quite a lot.  The period from end of 2016 till now has been the hardest in my memory, though you might not know it, to look at me.

I’m looking forward to sitting together, to extreme attentiveness and presence, to discussing dream symbolism a la Jung, and to being in the company of one another in the name of the Divine.  I’ve had many dreams but now that we’re coming together again, I have nothing I can bring to the group.  About 4 months ago, I dreamed that a YouTuber that I follow was sort of flirting with me but I don’t think that qualifies as anything worthy of deep reflection…unless the guy is a representation of my animus….and now…come to think of it, he probably really, really is.  I love him dearly for showing up when I needed him.  He arose from the ocean of the collective unconsciousness to bring life-giving rain to my desert.

Oh I’ve missed the depths to which we go, in the group!  I’m so grateful that the group leader has decided to reconvene the group as a kind of retreat, and that I will be sitting together with them all, again.  I’m also grateful that even in the relatively isolated life that I live right now, the archetypes still know how to find me.

The weather forecast is for reasonable skies and hopefully reasonable tides.  There is something about a journey by sea that is a beckoning of the subconscious.  I did a year of writing school on the island and the sea was a strong motif in much of my writing both then and when I returned to the mainland.  Some people find their peace in the forest.  Some find it at the top of the mountain.  For me, I find myself called to sea.  How appropriate for this work that we do.

I’m looking forward to my journey almost as much as the events planned at my destination(s).  I think that is a pretty great thing and I wish I lived my life with that mindset more often.  I’ve tried to keep my blog a place that is welcoming to people of all faiths and those who ascribe to no particular faith, but I’m starting to think that the time for evading writing about my own faith – for fear that it will turn people off – is coming to an end.  I welcome everyone and I’ve vowed to serve people of all faiths (and I include agnostics and atheists in that group), but writing about my experience is really superficial without writing about my spiritual life.  I’ve had a pretty crap run of it these past few years but it has been my faith that has carried me through, like a bridge over such troubled waters.

The sun has begun to come out, the flowers are sprouting in the ground and my strength is slowly returning.  It is good that we will be gathering again to pray and listen, in love, to light the darkness of the world.  I believe my time has come to shine.  Maybe all my dreams are on their way.

 

 

For what are you most grateful, today?

 

Art, Art, Ten Thousand Days

When Life Imitates Art

February 20, 2020

Photo: Markus Spiske

Day 2009 – Day 2014

Over the weekend, I decided to spend some time painting.  I’ve got about a million things tugging at my time but I am battling a cold, so I decided to stay home and just paint, on Sunday.  I sat at the easel for hours.  Then I went and did laundry and came back and sat for hours.  And then I went and cooked dinner.  Back to the easel, for more sitting and looking.  In all those 12 hours, you would have thought I’d have started six new canvases and finished at least one work in progress.  But, no.  I managed to make very little progress on the two pieces in front of me.

I work on several pieces at the same time, in order to just keep working.  While one piece is drying, I move on to the next.  And, when I’ve got paint left over, I often will start something new.  I have probably a hundred WIP pieces and I’m tired of having them around.  Right now, I’m into finishing them and furthering a new style of painting, to build a new body of work.  I’m grateful to be able to say that I finished several old pieces at the end of 2019, but I’ve got many in the pile to be completed.

I am what you might call an intuitive artist.  I suppose what that means depends on how you define that term.  I think you might call me an expressionist.  One of my favourite figurative paintings is by a lesser known Austrian painter who is arguably, the first expressionist painter.  For me, expressionism sometimes takes abstract form and I absolutely love abstract expressionism.  Klee, Rothko and Martin are among my favourites.  But, it’s hard to be a good at abstract expressionism, no matter how it might look to the museum-goer.  To me, it has a lot to do with being great with colour, light (Klee and Rothko were amazing at this),  composition and texture in order to convey abstract emotions, ideas or states of being.  It can be approached scientifically and theoretically, but I tend to approach my painting intuitively.  Another way I paint is to start by laying down colour and patterns and then I keep turning the canvas around and around, adding to and painting over the colour, shapes and patterns until a figurative form or forms begin to emerge.  It has to be something that organically emerges to my eye.  I know that many people see things in my work that I never saw and that’s wonderful.  But, if I haven’t seen it, I’m not going to be able to relate to it and to bring it to life.  The final way that I often work is a form of outsider-art/primitivism that I was taught by Jesse Reno, where I lay down colour and symbols, then ‘grab’ parts that I like the most and see where that grab takes me.

Of course, I have done some art works where I set out to paint or draw a particular ‘thing’ – whether it is a still life or model in front of me, or from a photograph, or from my mind’s eye.  I never find these things have the same kind of energy that my intuitive pieces have.  While I’m grateful for the instruction I’ve had, frankly, I’m not that great at the technical aspects of painting or drawing.  Many artists plan out their canvas before they even touch it.  I don’t.  And so, I often end up with challenges in framing the final piece or with weird compositions.  But, I kind of like the results and the process is a deep one, so I keep working in the way that I do, and each painting teaches me more about myself and about composition that somehow I intuitively bring into the next piece.

I’ve been wondering if life imitates art.  I don’t particularly mean in the way that Oscar Wilde meant this twist.  I don’t mean that we see beauty only in the way that art has trained us to see beauty – although there is something in that.  I do think our ego has been conditioned to perceive things in a certain way and we forget to look with fresh eyes and to stay receptive, with wonder.  But I actually mean something more base than this.  I wonder if the way we are comfortable creating isn’t reflected in the way we end up living our lives.  You don’t have to be a painter or a writer or a musician to create.  Everyone cooks.  Some people follow a recipe to the precise measurements.  Some people make tasty food but have no eye for presentation.  Some people cook by principles, creating and tasting as they go, so that no two attempts at a ‘dish’ will ever be the same.  I tend to cook the way I paint: intuitively.  And what I am realizing is that some of my frustration with my life comes from not giving myself permission to live the way that I create.

In life, I plan out the small stuff – the steps to a particular goal.  I probably could make a lot of decisions intuitively but because this kind of lifestyle is not valued, (at least it was not valued when I was growing up), I do a lot of research and wrestle with the question for a long time before making a decision.  I even have some goals that are pretty much ‘life goals’ but if truth be told, I’m not so great at figuring out the steps to get there.  I could look objectively at the steps someone else took to get there, and I’ve tried this, without much success.  Their steps wouldn’t be my steps because there are so many different environmental factors at play.  I think that I need to find my way to the goal within the set of circumstances, talents, opportunities and insights that I have.  And if I don’t find my way to the goal, then I would like to have sufficient faith that even though the goal was something I wanted, it wasn’t something that was meant for me.  I’m grateful that I’ve usually found a way to make peace with my failures, but I admit that sometimes I really believe that what I want is what the Universe should want, and I struggle with the pain when it doesn’t come to pass.

That is frustrating, but faith doesn’t mean believing only when things go my way.   I do believe that when my will and the will of the Divine Quantum are in alignment, the obstacles are cleared.  I believe that the Divine Quantum is always opening doors and laying out a plan.  It is me that hasn’t always been fully receptive.   As humans, it’s tempting to want to plan every step and control every outcome.  I’ve done the planning and tried to achieve things through self-control.  But there’s an old joke – if you want to make “God” laugh, make a plan.  Sometimes the joke is on you when you don’t achieve your goal.  Sometimes the joke is when you do.

I don’t use ‘Divine will’ to be lazy.  I graft with the best of them.  Yes, I’ve worked tirelessly to achieve huge life goals only to get there and realize it wasn’t what I wanted, after all.  I’ve wasted years in jobs I should want and ruined my health trying to be everything to everybody except what I knew in my heart I should have been.  Nowhere along the way did I allow myself to question whether I was being drawn toward or guided to something better.  Well, that’s not true.  I did question.  I didn’t follow.  Instead, I went with what seemed a bit more practical.

I remember one instance where I had my eye on the prize and I broke down all the steps to achieve my goal.  I kept track of my progress so that I would make it to the end game as a success.  For more than 18 months, while I held down a full time job, I worked every morning from 4-7:30 am and 7-9 every evening with an additional 12-28 hours of work every weekend just to achieve the prize.  I spent all my holidays working toward that goal and I took 6 weeks of unpaid leave to get to the finish line.  I remember that the night before the final hurdle, I turned on the television to relax for an hour and there was Felix Baumgartner about to leap into space and skydive to the earth.  I knew nothing about it and I wasn’t certain whether I’d be watching a man fall to his death, but oh, how he was living!  For me, my greatest professional achievement to date will always be a part of the gestalt of that moment Baumgartner said “I’m going home, now” and stepped off the platform.

I achieved my goal, and yes, I felt grateful and proud of my accomplishment but it wasn’t going to lead to a life that I really wanted.  It didn’t give me anything of the joy of watching Baumgartner that day.   That was the beginning of the end of that phase of my life.

This weekend I went back to a painting that I’ve been working on, in my studio, for over 2 years.  It’s a small painting.  It’s nothing momentous but I feel that it is special – at least to me.  I keep looking at it and I see this brilliant potential but I’m not sure where to go with it.  So I put it aside for another few months and then bring it out again.  Maybe I do a few brushstrokes but then I put it away again and forget about it.  This past weekend, with a renewed commitment to receptivity, I worked on it again.  For the first time, I could see what was there, all along.  I see it.  I know the title.  I’m so close to giving it life.  One of the hardest lessons in painting is knowing when to stop.  And now, I’m stuck.  I’m afraid of the next brush stroke, in case I ruin it.

I feel like I can’t live my life in the flow of receptivity, following my faith, if I am afraid of the next step.  And yet, here I am.  I know that change is ahead and has been in process for some time, now.  I’m really trying to be receptive to where it will take me.  Some days I dream about going walkabout, of renunciation, and walking the earth.  It has been my experience that when I wander, small but profoundly beautiful things happen.  The pilgrim walks in faith, not always knowing the destination and I don’t know if my will is going to align with the Divine Quantum on that dream or whether, by focusing on being receptive, the Universe will bring the mate for whom I have been longing and who has been questing for me, for so long.  Maybe it will be neither of these options and I will be led to something completely ordinary where there is some meaning that I may never fully comprehend.  I know that my one job right now is to be receptive.

And so, I keep turning this life around and around, looking at it from different angles, and waiting for that which needs to be born to emerge.  But all day, I sit at my desk and my painting haunts me.  I can’t work on it but I can’t forget it either.  Maybe tonight I will go home, and with a single brush stroke, destroy what was waiting to be.  Maybe I will give birth to something beyond my wildest dreams.  Sometimes in life, it can go either way.  But who are we to say that what we call a mistake was not aligned with the intent of the Divine Quantum?  I believe every downfall is an opportunity to learn and grow.  And equally, who are we not to be receptive to the call to a great leap of faith into something beautiful?

 

Photo: Kamil Pietrzak

 

 

For what are you most grateful, today?