This morning as the cats and dogs aligned themselves with my body in a way designed to prompt wakefulness, I was reminded that the only difference between aggravation and enjoyment is how I see it.
“It” can be anything. Does the above photo look ominous? Playful? Beautiful? If I remember correctly, (or if I don’t) it was windy in a playful way and I was stirred to participate with the earth and the wind, the clouds were my playmates and my feet were happy to be on the ground.
I have to say that I prefer those unchallenging times – but, it’s all in the way I see it, isn’t it?
The heart can be a lonely hunter. But we are never truly alone, not really, our hearts are known by many, here and not here.
Life’s lessons are learned one by one though at time they come in platoons, groups on the prowl, hunting for us.
Where there is life, there is strength.
Strength of heart cannot be forgotten or overpowered. This is true for us all.
Purdah. Rich muslim women behind screens looking out. They are cared for. They wear rich clothes. They are fed. They bathe. They smell good. Jewelry everywhere. Make-up, hair. And this is what they call themselves: frogs in a well. For they cannot be in the world.
How much can be seen? Not much.
But imagination can run. Hope cannot.
Fantasy is fed. Willingness is not.
It is an old story. Women behind screens on a high balcony. Women with bound feet.
In my own life my mother said. “the more respectable you are the less you do.” She was horrified that I would want to change the oil in my car, shop for myself, wash my own hair.
The flip side is not opposite.
I spent some time listening to women say they were nobody without taking care of someone else. They were free to move. Free to drive and shop, read books and write. But they identified themselves by who they take care of, whose wife, whose mother, whose friend.
And still others who seem to only care for themselves. My mother looked like that sometimes. She preened and had “admirers” who sent flowers, she seemed to think only of herself. Once while visiting me we separated in Cambridge, MA. She got lost while I did an errand – too plain for her. When I couldn’t find her I went to the chi chi- est shop and there she was. Salespeople all around, sitting having a cup of tea. She looked at me, said, “What would I do if something had happened to you? How would I get home?”
Indeed, I worried about that too.
My point here is not to expose my mother’s peccadillos but to the larger issue of how we are who we are and how we treat ourselves.
Not knowing how to get home is not a good idea. Not knowing how to be without a project also not life-provoking. And that crosses genders.
How fully we each reach out to ourselves and what we say is crucial. The body is eavesdropping on the mind constantly – not just checking in from time to time. What you say about yourself to yourself is duly noted each time, no exceptions.
My lovely wife danced a dance many many years ago with the title “Frogs in a Well,” I don’t have a clip of that but her newest solo, “Speak,” is handy to me. In it she explores the consequences of autism – of our godson trapped in a speechless form for now – I can say freed to a speechless form for now as well. I believe they are equal. There is nothing that is good or bad but thinking makes it so. My good friend Marcus Aurelius said that a long time ago.
Speak – performed at Lincoln Center.
What if every Thing you are given in your life, good and bad – good and bad according to you since there really is no such thing – were to open your heart and then open you up some more?
What if every time you put blame on something or someone you took away your chance to open further?
And every time you held onto the blaming of someone or some thing and made it a story, perhaps even your story, you kept yourself away from the reality of You.
What about that?
How can you hear my song
If I don’t sing?
How can I tell you my love if I don’t speak?
What is in my heart
Can be shown, tasted, heard, felt and sensed
in a thousand ways
A thousand voices are mine
A million miles of connection
Are mine to show and yours to receive
But I have to show up
And you do too.
Brene Brown with Oprah. Super Soul Sunday
What can I say? This woman has opened the trap door to the ogres of the world and freed us – mind you we each have to take our own step – to be who we will be.
To get the full benefit is to suspend all judgement.
To get the full benefit is to look in the mirror with love and respect.
Join me in adding to the voices of authenticity, of caring for the hearts and minds of us all.
I wrote these words today looking for a simple meditation on spiritual life. Looking for simple, relational, believable.
I wanted to write it on something and, being in my studio where there are no straightforward pens, pencils or paper for making notes, everything is art related, I saw a notebook I take with me on retreats. Flipping through the pages I realized what I had just written was perfectly illustrated for me by me some years ago.
I’ve heard consistency is the hobgoblin of the little mind and mostly I subscribe to that but today I was thankful to find I had already illustrated something I had just written.
As I open to the world
I see I belong
I cease the fight to belong
As I discover how deeply I am
As I trust I am seen
I no longer feel the need for any
effort to be noticed by the world
I am enough
I am one with the world
The world is one with me
And it’s not Eli! I just put his lovely face up because when we see, even for a moment, something we like in a category we love, our cells relax, take in more oxygen, and have a chance at some rest and recuperation they’ve been trying to get.
Since the slightest change of mood is picked up by every cell we should really feel paranoid about what’s in our minds. If we could flip the scary stories we tell ourselves; all the denial, envy and pain to seasides and mountains, contentment and frolic, we could save ourselves so much aggravation.
Let’s say we know that our 50 trillion cells (by last count) pick up our slightest change of mood and share actively in our thoughts. We know that what we think catalyzes change in our bodies and over time our mirrors talk. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to pay some attention? Meditation vs. face cream or lipo. Smiles vs. iffy digestion or gimpy backs.
What would you give for some peace of mind? How would it be to see a solution to every problem? To know when you need help, shouldn’t go that route, or can do it yourself? Most of us can access our wisdom, our strength is right here, now, ready. It’s simple, not necessarily easy.
The strategy for this is to notice what is right about us, our life, our health, our spirit. Treat yourself as if you were a beloved and very interesting child/person/animal. Listen with love and curiosity, let patience be your guide. Let this moment, this one here now, be your guide. Then take the next step and the next. It’s not about wallowing in the moment, but letting the moment take you, inform you, love you, forgive you.
Doubt is not the opposite of faith, it is one element of faith.
Often in my coaching practice I find myself speaking of faith. There is resistance to this word, this concept. It’s scary. It requires what I call air-time – call it a leap. Time when you are moving forward, gently or rapidly, and you have to keep going no matter what. I have kayaked backwards through some very “interesting” rapids, nothing to be done but do what I could as well as I could. In this case the kayak has the same shape coming and going – it was not sea faring – and the only difference is that I had to have a great twist for longer than I would have chosen.
Doubt was not on my mind. Neither was faith. I was all action. But in other moments when I have had time to contemplate, doubt has been friend and foe. Doubt has kept me from making sudden decisions – hasty words and actions. I think doubt has made me look wiser than I am and it has made me wiser in the process.
There is this drive we all share for unity, oneness, wholeness. We are often puzzled and struggle with our own complexity. That we might have an unsavory thought, not be the kind of person we want to be all the time. My companion Liam is a great example of just this. He is the sweetest, snuggliest, kindest of dogs. And then going out the door he has to be the awfullest, most inconsiderate, impossible, neck-biting maniac to Jules, the stately greyhound. Or barking and throwing himself against the window – the screen is not yet fixed – at Momacita the feral cat who teases him relentlessly.
We think we would like to live in a black and white world. One in which bad guys looked bad and good guys… But that’s a little like Midas. When we wish for something to be always true we forget times we don’t want everything the same color. Our own diversity is our friend. Even when we feel we lack something in the moment. In the next moment we might get exactly what we want.
True or not, truth or dare, for me Oprah has become the Highground, along with TED talks. And now my hero Brene Brown will be on Super Soul Sunday. I first saw her on TED. Pretty much nothing rattles my cage – for good or ill – I’m classed as “steady” and most of the time that’s true. That said, I am really excited about these ideas. The mission of people like Oprah and Brene, their ability to speak out, show up and expose themselves is truly a gift.
What carries me along with the current of these pop and popular venues is the high ground they take. These are some of the most moral, vulnerable, open, expressive and passionate human beings I have ever seen. I feel so blessed to be in a world where these ideas and values can be shared. I know it’s getting better and better here on planet earth and I know this kind of dissemination of ideas is as important as Johnny Appleseed and honey bees.
for each new moment here on earth
another moment fades
moments pass us – well, like moments
the mere mention is one
push the space bar and it’s gone
each one countable and accountable
each one a weave into the next
this is how we grow
no other way to do it