Thursday, August 28, 2014

8/29/14—Letting Go, Part 3

Here's a guest blog I've been holding on to for a couple of weeks. Enjoy!

The Sparky & Goddess Evolutionary Love Chronicles 
Part 3
So tired, tired of waiting, tired of waiting for you. – Ray Davies

I volunteered to write our blog, on my own this time, as Goddess is in the throes of navigating a particularly crowded, complicated and fast paced stretch of life.  Picture you’re in Times Square, late for an appointment and fun house mirrors start popping up.  Bottom line is, she didn’t hesitate when I volunteered to write this one.  I was grateful too, as I had this nagging sense of some unfinished business between me and our ongoing inquiry into letting go.  Against the good advice of author, Anne Lamott who wrote, “My mind is like a bad neighborhood. I try not to go there alone…” I felt like I wanted to scout out this territory solo and report back with my findings.  

At first glance, the inner terrain seemed hospitable.  Thoughts were busy in their usual comings and goings, but nothing standing out around letting go.  I felt clear, alert and calm inside.  The problem, it seemed, was that I really couldn’t come up with anything to let go of!  At that moment, the perspective I was in was uncluttered, at ease and darn near perfect!  I was living the proverbial “good problem” to have, as in there was nothing apparent that I really needed let go of!  And still, there was something under my radar that was softly signaling me, but not showing up on screen.  

What to do next?  I had options.  I could just ignore the bleep and focus on techniques for letting go; or make up a situation and write about it hypothetically, or simply write about what it’s like to have nothing to let go of – just to name a few.  But this topic was inspired by the joint inquiry of our Evolutionary Love Chronicles, and we’d ended our last blog stating that we’d be writing about our own experience with letting go, so I decided to go deeper and walk the talk for this one.

My next step was to set aside some formal meditation time while holding the inquiry of, what can I let go of?  I say “holding” the inquiry, because that’s how I learned to approach a question like this.  Not as a problem calling for a solution – which just keeps me stuck in my head skimming through information and past experiences but as an invitation to be open, curious and available to whatever may arise.  Doing so allows me to engage from a more expanded perspective, rather than the narrower perspective of practical actions to take.  That part comes soon enough but for now it’s all about opening and allowing with nothing to figure out.    

With my intentions set, I waded back into routine life and proceeded to find one thing after another that was more urgent, immediate or desirable than the 20 minutes or so that I’d earmarked for this particular meditation.  It’s worth noting here that I have a formal meditation practice which I plan for at least once and often, twice a day.  All of a sudden, it seemed, day-to-day life was showing up for me with a roar, where background and foreground merge and priorities melt into a muck of indistinguishable slush.  And so I trudged on through that slush for days before accepting that I’d been sleepwalking, so to speak, avoiding my regular practice and the question of what can I let go of?  Once that was fully acknowledged and accepted, I was “free” again to return to practice and to this increasingly curious inquiry.

Eventually, I did fulfill my intention to sit with the inquiry and so sat in silence and slowly opened to the stillness inside.  My mind was resistant and busy, and I was patient, compassionate and remained alert.  As awareness grew, the unruly thoughts began to thin out and fade.  I welcomed the familiar atmosphere of stillness and let it bathe through me.  As one rarely experiences except in meditation, prayer, or other moments of divine love, I was enveloped in the essence of being home. “I home.”  No longer a place, or even separate, the I and home arose together as one.  I don’t know how long I sat in this bliss or more accurately simply sat as bliss, before becoming aware of a thought/form that softly stood out.  Effortlessly, the thought/form became both a statement and resonate question: what are you waiting for?  

What are you waiting for?  I held the words like a child might hold some astonishing, mysterious something seen for the very first time.  It was a wondrous, miraculous thing to behold!  I repeated the words in thought many times until a smile was lifted deep inside and spread through me like a clear, warm sunbeam.  How perfect, I thought.  Waiting… I’ve actually been waiting! 

Then it came as, waiting again…  Ego had seized it and now it took on a personal dimension followed by a story.

My awareness of and personal relationship to waiting goes back many years.  At one pivotal point in life, I found that my day-to-day life experience was diminished through a perspective that life, for me, had become a pattern of one rote reaction after another.  It saw it in my work, at home, and in my most important relationships with family and friends.  An unsatisfying life of reacting had emerged through a broader context which I eventually identified as waiting…  Waiting for certain changes to occur before “my” more authentic life could begin.  Waiting for things like more money, more time, more love, and more freedom.  Waiting for other people to change, to “see the light” and be somehow different so as to better fit into “my” world.   I recognized this waiting perspective as a place from which I judged other people, current circumstances and events, myself and my life, and saw all to be insufficient and needing some future improvement, some change...  Perhaps you can relate that this was not a very happy or empowered place to experience life from?

Armed with this new awareness, I felt clear to begin to make the changes that I could, and to let go of those that I could not.  Through various daily practices, I became more alert to the alternatives to waiting and became more present and engaged with life.  The result has been transformative!  Being present, which by its nature transmutes waiting, has become my chosen way of being in the world.  It is a foundation for all of my relationships and the core essential of my relationship with Goddess.  Heck, even my profession is about this stuff – I often help others to recognize their own limiting patterns, get present and take clearer choices… And still, an unintended perspective had formed in me and waiting crept back into my world! 

I won’t go into dissecting all the why’s and how’s I engaged in re-forming this recent perspective of waiting.  Certainly it was not a conscious choice, that is to say, I wasn’t aware of it as it was forming.  I’ve come to see it as a by-product which forms when wanting a particular outcome – like wanting to be in a closer, day-to-day relationship now, and that day-to-day relationship not being immediately available.  This is the current status with Goddess and me, so a seed of waiting was planted.  Add in a few unrelated challenges; like our adult children coming and going this summer, my son unexpectedly taking off a semester and moving back in with me, Goddess’ plans to prep and ready for market her home of 25 years, our plans to re-brand/re-invent our independent career paths together, future travel plans, budgets and projections, and voila… I went into auto-pilot and began coping with the present moment, instead of experiencing it!  

Waiting, for me anyway, is much more than something you do – it’s an attitude and eventually a way of life that no one would knowingly accept.  I can now see how it spread, like a virus, into practically every aspect of my life.  Waiting found its way into my work, personal habits and even my most treasured relationship.
If, as the saying goes, holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die, then holding onto waiting is like a slow drip, numbing you to life, while expecting life to catch up to where you want it to be.  Of course, life won’t “catch up” since we’re not separate from the life that’s ever present, and ever changing.  Seeing this, I can let go of waiting and choose presence instead.  I’m grateful to Goddess and this inquiry, and feeling newly inspired to being more present with life… where waiting, is once more, just a concept waiting for me! 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

8/25/14—Checking The Fence For Holes

The whole section of fence behind those trees is missing and nobody noticed!
After a two-week rest, I finally have something to say. 

Some of you may know that my fence has been undergoing a two-year long rebuilding at the hands of my neighbor. He didn't use pre-fab anything. He built it all one rail at a time. Last year he rebuilt the span between our properties and recently he built the shorter front span...the part with the gate. 

Last weekend he had two guys out to set new posts about three feet in front of the existing front part of the fence. That way, I'd still have the old fence to contain my pooches and he could build independently of worry about them. At one point last week, my neighbor removed a section of the old fence, so essentially, six feet of the old fence was gone, offering a possible escape route for the dogs. In reality, everything was locked up tight. But I thought for sure that the dogs would see the missing section of fence and run into it, checking out the alleyway between the fences for critters, sniffing the new fence and hunting for possible escape routes. But they didn't. 

At no point in the week that this fence opening existed did Kizzie or Mystic even approach the opening. The only reason Magick Moonbeam went back there is because I was so shocked that nobody was checking it out that I picked her up and placed her in the alleyway. In fact, even odder, when my neighbor was working on the fence with the dogs out in the yard, Mystic and Magick would run to their usual peeking holes in the old fence to see what they could see—peeking holes that weren't 6" away from the six foot opening that they were, for some reason, not acknowledging was there! They could have run right up to my neighbor to check it out, but they stayed inside the fence they knew.

I've been thinking about this all week. It's not uncommon when people are held captive that they begin to identify with and trust their captors. This is known as Stockholm Syndrome. Alongside this, some of these kidnapped girls we hear about say there were opportunities for escape and, because of fear or conditioning or whatever, they didn't take the opportunity. So I started thinking...where in my life have fences been torn down and new avenues built yet I, nonetheless, stay within the confines I've always known? What opportunities for "escape" am I letting pass me by because I've resigned myself to a situation?

The more I thought about this, the more self-limitation that was revealed to me. I'll bet you could find at least one—if not many—ways in which this applies to you, too. We get so used to the roadblocks, limitations, obstacles and, let's face it, excuses that bind us, that we don't recognize salvation when it comes.  

At my age I know a lot of people who worry about ageism, so they stay within the confines of their current job, fearing that nobody will hire them at their "advanced age." While some of this may be true, some of it's not. In fact, if you look at statistics, the lowest unemployment rates exist in the 45-54 and Over 55 categories. And the rates in those categories have dropped over the past year. In fact, the 45-54s realized the sharpest drop in unemployment of all the groups in the past year. So someone is hiring the old farts! What you don't want to be is 16 going on 17 or a new college graduate. In fact, a surprising aspect of the Bureau of Labor Statistics findings is that the very people we worry about taking our jobs—those 25-34 years old—seem to have more trouble finding work than anyone else over 25. So this is an example of how the fences we build around our lives aren't really as confining as we think.

Today, the old fence came down in my yard and the dogs went to to explore their new reality. They were unimpressed. They have a few more feet in which to play. But for them, there's still a with fewer peeking holes. Nothing significant has changed. They're still trapped in mommy's evil little web. But at least they finally explored the possibility of a different outcome.

Where might there be an opening in your life that you haven't noticed? What is unsatisfactory enough that you would look again for an escape route, even though you've decided none exist? And where might you find that the only obstacle to progress in your life in your life is you? Sometimes the routine feels safer than change, even if you hate the routine. But that doesn't mean it's the best choice for us to make.