Out of the Mouths of Babes I had dinner with a friend from twenty years ago the other night, and it was fun catching up on how we'd grown. She is a therapist and in these interim years she married and had 2 daughters — after age forty. One day one of the little girls chose to wait in the car while she ran into a store to get something. When my friend came out she said, "What were you thinking about while you were waiting?" Her daughter said, "I wasn't thinking, Mom." "Well, what is not thinking like?" my friend asked. "Well. . ." the daughter paused a long moment. "Everything is in order. All the questions have their own answers. And there aren't any more questions." "So how did you get into that not-thinking place?" asked my friend. "I just stare at something, and stare and stare and stare and stare until everything disappears." On another occasion, her younger daughter suddenly asked, "Mom, what did you look like when you were in third grade?" "Why do you want to know, sweetheart? my friend answered. "Well, I saw you when you were in third grade and I decided right then that you were the person I wanted to have as my mother." Today, yet another friend told me the story of 5-year-old Gabe, who came home from school a little serious-faced. His father asked him what was wrong and he said, "I'm OK, I just need a little space. I need to think about something." "What is it?" his father probed. "Well, some girls said mean things to me today and hit me. But I'm OK, I just want to go to my room and think." Later, his father came back from errands and found Gabe playing happily and laughing in the family room. "I guess you figured something out, right?" his father asked. "I thought about those girls and I decided to make a hole in my heart and send alot of love over to them because they need it. And then I felt fine again!" Wouldn't it be great if more of our daily conversations were as pure and direct as these?!!
I did intuitive life readings in Sacramento for the past 3 days and had several men as clients. They all owned their own businesses, and were sensitive, alert, and humorous. On first glance, though, they appeared somewhat rumply and a bit slouchy. Ordinarily, I would not have been drawn to them, as they gave off an aloof quality as well. But sitting with them for 90 minutes, talking frankly about their main concerns and hopes, I began to see what made them tick. Each had been divorced and had put sincere effort into dating. They all said, "I took her out, and when I called her again, and she didn't even return my call." Or, "We went out for a year and suddenly she just stopped taking my calls. No explanation; nothing." They were spiritually active men, and one told me he saw an astrologer every year. The women they attracted, however, thought this was a bunch of bunk! I was amazed. The women I talk to are searching everywhere for men like these! What was interesting, too, was that as I got to understand the men's vulnerability and gave them feedback about their strengths and inner goodness, they blossomed into smiles and I realized they were actually quite attractive and very warm-hearted. One man's grayish tone brightened to a clear light and his eyes began to sparkle.
I became aware of our tendency to make snap judgments, and how, when we pay attention and look deep, beauty always comes to the surface. I also noticed how, because of difficult childhoods where we were taught to please others at our own expense, we tend to attract people who disapprove of us. It's sterotypical to give women credit for being kind and sensitive, while men get the reputation for being self-centered and insensitive. But these intuitive men reminded me that the sexes have much in common: we all want love, and we all start to seem slightly disheveled when we've been rejected repeatedly.
Rainer Maria Rilke and EmptinessI am slowly reading bits of Rilke's Duino Elegies and as I have been focusing so much lately on identifying and letting go of my mind's fixed structures and strategies, I find his words quite amazing and beautiful — that he was aware of these things too: "Ah, who can we turn to in need? Not angels, not humans — and the intuitive animals have already noticed that we don't feel at home in our interpreted world. Perhaps somewhere, there is still a tree on a hillside that we can visit every day; still a familiar street or the sleepy comfort of a routine, still something that made its way inside us and is still here. ...Don't you know yet? All the emptiness that you hold in your arms, if you toss it into the sky's emptiness, into the emptiness that we all breathe, then perhaps the birds will feel the air expanding and fly about more passionately."
Habits of mind are becoming very boring, in both myself and in others. Knowing in the way I've always known feels so limited. Identifying, discriminating, making points. There is a huge, seamless knowing waiting for us when we burn off the self-importance of the mind. Rilke says: "(It is) Strange to discard one's own name like a broken toy. Strange to no longer wish for one's wishes. Strange to see everything one was attached to, fluttering around loosely in space. ...the living all make the mistake of imagining sharp differences between things, of imagining that realities are separate from one another. Angels (men say) often don't even know whether they are moving among the living or the dead."
Photo by Penney Peirce
Fine-line Balances — An Intuitive Art
I am thinking quite a bit this week about those subtle balancing acts we must learn to master if we are to become truly mature and full human beings. To be ONLY happy, or understanding, or even balanced, is to miss half of life and not grasp the depth of human experience. To be ONLY worried, depressed, irritated, or out of control is, similarly, to move through life hopping on one foot. For instance, in my relationship, at times I want space and at other times I want close intimacy. If viewed with a positive spin, both states come from the soul and are empowered: I am centered enough to be able to be alone and vulnerable enough to let go of my ego and merge into a more complex state where I know "self" and love in a larger way with another person. Seen with a negative spin, it could look like I'm retreating into my cave as a way to avoid giving up control of my reality, or that I want another person because I'm needy and afraid to face what might surface from my subconscious depths were I alone.
There are two polarities to everything: 1) the balanced flow back and forth between the two natural poles of something: eg, sleep and waking, panic and curiosity, blankness and imagination, joyful spontaneity and pressure to perform perfectly, knowing the divine inside yourself and outside yourself, as one and as plurality; and 2) Seeing those oscillations from the point of view of soul (love/unity) or ego (fear/separation). I am first trying to allow myself to experience both sides of every polarity and the fluid interconnection between the halves. Let myself rock back and forth and know the whole process, and this takes time, as I must go through several full cycles of each one before I feel the circle or figure-eight. Second, I am focusing on shifting from judgmentalism and being "bothered," to allowing and appreciating every phase of every cycle. Working with the mind's duality and mirroring can be quite confusing! Perhaps that's why the mind keeps trying to stop the flow and make a pronouncement: THIS is the way it is!! And of course, then it promptly changes. Then the mind makes a revised pronouncement: UPDATE: THIS is the way it is!! Under it all is the consciousness and presence that fuels, and knows, the entire game.
Imagine a Beginning, and It IS!!Here we are again, at Day One. Interesting how my mind orients itself to the feeling of a new cycle, tells itself to start fresh, and the rest of me readies for the pop of the gun — just from the habit of defining this day, which is just a day like any other, as a new beginning. ONE is a powerful word. First step. Impulse. Motive. Upswing. The new year gives me a mental break from the airless, saturated state I had descended into last year (just yesterday!) — from the merger with particular themes I was preoccupied with. Today I get to release myself from needing to chew on those ideas. I can let my mind go blank like a limp muscle and just look around and receive anything interesting. Usually on New Year's Day I go off and sit on a mountain, or a rock, or by a lake, and think about what I've accomplished, what I want to be like in my life, what I might want to do in the year, and what I sense may be happening in the world. But today, I just read a mystery novel by the pool in the balmy Florida winter. They say the first step of a journey is symbolic of the journey. So did I fall down on my job of setting myself up to be conscious this year? "No," my inner voice says. "You're setting yourself up to learn how life can be created out of the Great Mind instead of your personal will power. Beginnings are always happening and there is always something new. Turn the page and see what comes next."