Little Ways of Being™
- Created on 01 January 2015
"Every man, through fear, mugs his aspirations a dozen times a day." --Brendan Francis
She told me her pledge for 205 is to be fearless.
"I envisioned what my life would look like if I were fearless," she said, "and was astonished to see how I'm holding myself back."
"If you state your goal with a positive spin," I offered, "and strive to be courageous and brave, your mind won't take you to the negative: fear."
Swept up by her enthusiasm and the power of the notion, I thought, I'll act courageously in 2015!
As soon as the thought occurred my abdomen tightened and the clutch in my heart locked up. To me courageous means opening a vein to write with unadulterated honesty. Scares the hell out of me—so much so I often can't write.
Common wisdom says face your fear. Challenge it. Jump off the cliff with a hang glider attached to your back. Crawl into a small, dark space without light. Query the editor of a magazine you want your piece published in.
Another approach is to relax into the fear or take it in small doses until you build up your tolerance and courage. Like, you don't have to jump in, just put your toes in the pool.
I enjoy a challenge, am not intimated to try new things, and have usually found a storehouse of confidence backed by an iron will. All of which proved that persistence is a powerful mover into action and fear-shaker.
I've flung myself into business start ups without guarantee of income flowing for many months. I stared horror in the face, calm and collected, when I picked up my screaming two-year-old brother the moment a German Sheppard bit off his nose. I spoke out and published writings about oppression of the women in an international religious organization (read: lots of "big" people around the world were against me) and, even after receiving a death threat and public name-bashings, continued strong.
My persnickety problem: A fear of being abandoned lingers to this day. The fear that I'm not good enough haunts me.
I'm good at giving myself pep talks, and write and say affirmations that grow powerful by being grounded in spiritual truths I hold dear. In fact, I'm quite convincing when speaking to others about what constitutes a healthy view of the self.
Yet at times a core unworthiness surfaces and won't depart even after I pull out my full repertoire. My love-mantra soothes most fears, even the big fear of death, because I have regular experience of a welcoming location and company beyond this world. But even my sincerest mantra petitioning has not always appeased these fears about my worth and failure.
At that time, I drop my beads and helplessly yell in my mother tongue with a crackling voice, O Lord please take my fears!
Helplessly dependent is actually a good place to be. When I go there wholly much of what is amiss gets sorted out.
Still the fear of failure (which, evidently, my subconscious loosely defines variously by some vague conception that changes at different times, and which I only become aware of after I'm paralyzed) and the fear of being unworthy can shove competent, confident me to the ground in a pile real quick.
Fear is not an easy foe to do battle with.
This morning I didn't bother trying: my work with it the past week wasn't shifting things. For a half an hour, as I laid in bed after a restless night, I began thanking Radha for everything in my life: the cotton sheets, the quiet house, the line of oak trees, healthy food, air, the computer, my ability to think, ten working fingers, and a long list of physical and spiritual experiences and relationships. Getting up from bed I thanked God for warm water in the shower, my magnesium roll-on supplement, socks, no pain in my body. . .
Surprisingly, after forty-five minutes it became evident my thank-you mantras had no end.
Then I noticed the fear was gone.
- Created on 19 December 2013
"Hope in a Prison of Despair" by Evelyn De Morgan
A girlfriend committed suicide last night.
If she could see the profuse tears streaming down the faces of those who loved her would she rethink her decision?
I haven't spoken with K. in more than a decade. Why, then, do I cry? Because I couldn't help her and feel how alone she must have felt in the hours before she departed.
My heart is splitting open because I know her pain.
The pain that can shred and rip and tear unrelentingly until I run and scream and pound my fists, "I don't want to live! I don't want to live!"
The physical, mental, or emotional pain is so acute, so dense, so persistent that I can rush toward death and embrace it blindly, willingly, as if my rescuer. That which I avoid at all costs in health, and go to great measures not to even acknowledge my life long, in despair I clutch and seize and beg, Take me now!
An inner cloud forms and begins to hide all those who love me. It covers reason, and removes from my memory the floods and drops of happiness that I have experienced until that moment.
I cry because having stood at that edge and looked into that chasm, I know I'm capable—if circumstances would push that hard again—of taking my life too (no, I'm not suicidal, I'm getting to a point).
What frightens me more than that I could, under right conditions, commit suicide—and I suspect everyone has a breaking point—is that any number of events could happen at any moment and bring me to the edge. In short, I'm not in control.
The frightening problem is the universal experience of living life: there is suffering.
Sometimes there is unmitigated suffering that cannot be removed by kind words, a loving touch, positive mental outlook, philosophical or religious discourse, pain killers, or drugs. Sometimes we are meant to be with acute suffering.
Admittedly if someone holds our hand and sits with us, or shows a perspective we inherently know is true or possible, we're better equipped to build a bridge across chasms that we inevitably stand over in life.
As with many matters of substance and seriousness, there is no magic pill. No secret to end suicides. Sometimes fear alone is enough to keep someone from taking the step of ending their life. There is the hard work of spiritual practices and mental health hygiene that helps many.
As I looked out the window feeling K's pain and despair, I was curious if contemplating the wonder of life could have shifted the outcome. What if she had held a newborn, a newly blossomed, brightly colored flower, or hugged a pet, or viewed a high-speed video of a blade of grass growing—
When I've reached my chasms, in addition to the screaming and pounding and running, and staring at a pile of pills in my palm, I've cried, Krishna! Krishna! Radha be with me! to evoke the mercy and grace beyond me that inevitably fills me when all other shelters fail.
Perhaps there's no way around the apparent: we need all the help we can get from wherever we can find even a small candle of light.
"When it is dark enough, you can see the stars"
Ralph Waldo Emerson
May light and love always be in your world,
P.S. When I received word K. was no longer with us, I held the energy of her self in my hands, and set intentions for her to be carried on her journey safely and with love to a brighter future. At any time--in life and in death--we can send loving intention and feelings to someone in need. The affectionate intention of the directed heart has a powerful impact anywhere its energy is sent. So hold someone you care for, even if you can't be with them, in your hands with love. They will receive life affirming energy.
- Created on 15 November 2013
Read my latest essay that Rebelle Society published today, and enter the dialogue to come up with a new word for "crone." The article has hit a nerve.
So far I like Wisdame, Shamama, Mage, and Wow [Wise Older Woman].
- Created on 13 October 2013
- Created on 24 September 2013
It was an ordinary day. Following last night's overcast skies, rain poured. I chanted the Hare Krishna mantra, hearing the eternal sounds and allowing them to touch my soul.
- Created on 13 November 2012
Here's the passage I want to share with you because the poetic last paragraph was so lovely to me; the previous paragraphs are for context:
- Created on 14 September 2012
You’ve got to scrub them off. Every last one and every last inch of them. Florida’s love-bugs are delicate and always joined with another. They float and land easily, lovingly. All would be well in Florida if love-bugs just stayed out of the way of cars. Their unending deaths on the front of my car and rear view mirrors leave remnants of love that can best be described as a god-awful mess. Not a benign one.
Their black bodies are made of something more tenacious than tar. If you let them stay on the car your paint will be indelibly stained. From what I can tell, if they’re left on long enough of, whatever was in them and their love-making starts eating away at the paint.
So why isn’t there a product to keep them off my car? I have lived peacefully with each love-bug season for the past twenty years, but not this one. I’m driving more.
I’ve ventured out to set up a writing retreat, which means camping on a tile floor in an empty house, close to the ocean to spend glorious mornings and evenings with sand between my toes and sweeping my feet into tepid waters.
I now commute between St. Augustine and Alachua. For two days a week I'm in Alachua to care for Meena (that’s pretense I just have to be with her), stock up on water, do laundry, and pick up a piece of technology, a sweater, or whatever I need in at my campsite in St. Augustine.
I’m relocating to St. Augustine to write. It might kill me but I’m going to write. Okay, I shouldn’t make that statement publicly for many reasons.
Anyway, after making the one-and-a-half hour ride between St. Augustine and Alachua, I have to—sooner or later—remove the love-bugs from the car.
Why is there nothing we can put on cars before leaving our driveway that inhibits or prohibits love-bugs from attaching themselves to us?
- Created on 09 September 2012
For the person taking an inner journey do politics and spirituality go together? Is it politics and spirituality or politics or spirituality?
For the past year I’ve been following American politics, as well as world politics focusing on issues concerning women. So Marianna Williamson’s recent article Sister Giant: Consciousness and Politics at HuffPo, which partially takes on the questions I posed, caught my attention.
The article is a feeder for the November event “Women, Non-Violence and Birthing a New American Politics,” which aims to encourage more women to enter politics. The logic is that we’ll heal what ails us if we increase women’s participation in politics. We need more heart in governing society.
- Created on 20 August 2012
I listened to Martin Seligman, the "father of positive pysychology," speak at the Aspen Ideas Festival about improving happiness through practice.
Studies show that the single-most important barometer of personal happiness is whether a person is grateful. Check out your level of gratitude by taking the Gratitude Survey. I thought I would score high, but didn't. What an eye opener!
I also took the VIA Survey of Character Strengths. To each statement in the survey, you are to indicate if it represents you or not. Here are two of the 240 questions:
"The goodness of other people almost brings tears to my eyes."
"I get chills when I hear about acts of great generosity."
On The Aspen Institute site, I stumbled upon a talk about abuse of women by the authors of Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.
Kristof said, "In any decade, more women are discriminated to death than all the genocide in the 20th century. The scale is truly astonishing." He means, literally, discriminated to death.
More girls die in ten years by families selectively choosing boys over girls than all the people killed in all the wars in one hundred years!
Kristof went on to say that the central moral challenge in the 19th century was Slavery; the 20th century Totalitarianism; and the 21st century Gender Inequality around the globe. He says his statement isn't hyperbole.
Tears came to my eyes.
And they really started to flow later driving home from Meena's fourth birthday party as I approached the left-hand turn onto my road.