Now that I have begun to be more willing, more often, to be one with the quiet, I feel this measure of peace that cannot be quantified or described with mere words. 💛
Over the many years of my life, I have lived between the extremes, much of the time, of excess or deprivation. Whether in relation to food, alcohol, drugs, work, money, or relationships, I found myself with either too much, or not enough, of a good thing. In the context of those extremes, I would transmit to myself a few different messages.
You deserve this.
You shouldn’t have done that.
You have got to get it together.
You can’t trust yourself to be moderate.
You should look like (fill in the blank).
You only live once.
Living this way will be bad for you.
Any of those messages sound like ones you have said to yourself? Or had said to you or about you?
The words, as they sound to me now as I type them, weren’t the worst of it. It was the intention behind the message, that somehow I was not good enough. Or, if I did, said or created something different for myself, I would be more worthy, would be of more value in the world. A sick, dysfunctional game that I would play with myself. Either feeling entitled or needing to be punished in some way.
And, even though the words can sound intense and maybe even overdramatic, it felt like make or break it back then, or that so much was riding or whether or not I followed that diet or had that third glass of wine, that my very self would either be enhanced or evaporated. SO diabolical, yet seeming to have so much power and influence over what I would do or say to myself.
Gratefully, and with a humble heart, I have taught myself a much different lesson at this point in my life. Oh yes, I still say fuck it. But now, I say that to any extremes; to living in the edges rather than filling in my life from a more balanced perspective. I don’t have to deprive myself, nor do I need to indulge every impulse that I feel. I get to tune in, be Present, and then decide what feels really good. Not good in the “I gotta do this now before I even take a breath”, but from a deeper, more solid and authentic place. So that, even if I have that third glass of wine, or eat dessert three nights in a row, or spend the whole evening on Facebook, I am conscious about it rather than being asleep at the wheel of my life.
What comes to me with my Presence is Peace; and the beautiful, brilliant after effect of that is gentleness. Being loving, and kind, and present with any decision I make, allows me to make it from a place of serenity rather than desperation; and allows for me to feel one with the decision, rather than doubting myself or condemning myself. I can choose to do, or not do, and live with myself no matter what I decide.
Traveling this road will not be perfect; and I am sure that I will forget what balance feels like. Yet, I know in my soul that I will forget less, and for shorter periods of time, and that I know not only what feels the best.
I know what it is that I most deserve.
Today, I get to bear witness to two friends, whom feel like family, as they commit to love with one another. It recalls to me the day that I did the same, and how our marriage represented Love to me in so many deep, life changing ways.
I am thinking today, as I do most every day, about Love, and how to really, truly Love. Of course, I have had a lot of practice in Love over my lifetime, with my relationships with family, with friends, with partners, with co workers, with my child, and with my wife. It has been a learning experience all the way along, because in my lifetime, I haven’t actively been taught how to Love. Not really.
Love, as it is known to us by humans, is shown in the most capable ways that it can be. It is shown by the expression of love, as best as we can, through words. It is expressed through actions with one another. It is shown to us, in the best way it can be, as we exist here in our human forms. One of the things that we learn along the way, is that love, by definition, means to love unconditionally. Yet, how hard it is to do that.
As humans, it is so challenging to not want to have expectations, of ourselves and others. I believe it helps us to feel safe and secure, to want to know, if we can, that things and people with stay the same, stay around for us. Not many of us really embrace change, because it throws us off of our balance a bit; it goes against that which we thought that we had known. Yet, as we know, change is not only inevitable, but it helps us to learn to detach, let go, and let things be as they are. When it comes to being a human, and loving humans, this can be some of the most challenging lessons to learn.
Yet, let’s think about it. We often think that it is loving, to want the best for those that we love. For us to express our own opinions and views and perspectives about a person or a situation. And what I have found out is that when I do that to others, it isn’t actually loving at all. It means that I am not only accepting them or situations precisely as they are; I am not trusting that person to have the capability to handle it on their own.
Although realizing and knowing that I have done this in my relationships, for most of my life, at first felt awful; I viewed myself harshly, knowing that I had not truly, authentically loved those around me, by wanting them to be what I wanted them to be. However, I have now understood that the beauty is not in getting it perfect, or always remembering to let go and accept; it is in the remembering when I do forget to truly love, to truly see someone as capable and to allow that someone to be just as they are.
Every time that I forget, I get to remember again. I get to keep learning. I get to keep understanding how to Love.
One of my favorite aspects of nature is being by the water. We live by a lake, I love walking down to the falls at the park in our city, and I absolutely adore the ocean. Although we don’t live by the sea, I enjoy getting there as often as I can. This past weekend, we had an opportunity to travel to the east coast for a couple of days, right on the water.
The ocean holds particular fondness for me. As a child, we would spend days during the summer at Hampton Beach in New Hampshire, just to be able to run and swim in the waves, walk along the sand and find shells. It was pure heaven, even then. As I got older, it always seemed that myself and some friends or family, would make a trip at least every year to be by the ocean and feel its magic. As an adult, my parents rented a house every year for a decade, front and center on the coast.
I love the sounds, sights and smells of the ocean. I love hearing the roar of the crashing waves as I go to sleep, and I enjoy seeing the calm of the tide while the sun comes up in the morning. Whether it is opening up in me something that feels closed, or it is inspiring me to create where I feel stuck, it always seems to bring to me what I need at any given time. Inspiration. Consolation. Connection. Infinity. Peace.
So much has changed in the form of life for me in the last few years. And, I still at times, struggle with those changes, and accepting them fully. I keep learning to let go, little by little. But yesterday, as we were getting ready to depart from the ocean for another season, I felt connected. I felt one with all that Is. I felt the ocean, not through my senses, but as being part of Everything. I was as much the sand and the waves as I was my own body. Although I have been preparing in so many ways to be less connected to being my own, little entity, I had no idea how far I had traveled in my realization journey to be one with All that Is, in that moment. It felt like everything, and nothing, all at the same time. Feeling without touching.
I Am, more and more, All that Is.
It is not unusual that I would be thinking about, and writing about, Gratitude on this day, Thanksgiving Day, 2018. And, my thoughts and perspectives have changed about both Thanksgiving, and about Gratitude over the years. In a way, it feels somewhat strange to change my perspectives, and in another respect, it is so much more at ease to view both Gratitude, and this holiday, in a new way.
During the early years of my life, Thanksgiving most often was spent in Massachusetts, with my father’s family, my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. There would be more than a dozen of us around the dining room table, and the smaller and younger of us at the kids’ table, which was a folding card table in the television room. No matter where I sat, there was always plenty of food, plenty of laughs, and lots of love.
As I grew older, Thanksgiving changed into various ways of observing; either with my parents at our family’s home; with my partners and their families; and, eventually, with my own nuclear family. In the last few years, the holiday has mostly been spent with myself, my wife, my son, and my wife’s family.
However, this year, we decided to observe it differently; to create more simplicity around it, and to do what we felt most inspired to do. This year, that was to have it be just my wife and myself, cozy in our home, cooking our own turkey, and celebrating our own internal quiet and the quiet nature of the day. That decision, for both of us, has had moments of feeling different, unusual, or like we were doing something wrong; something not expected. However, when we let go of any guilt, expectation, or should thoughts, we are in bliss and enjoying our time together.
I have, in addition to these changes, changed my perspective very profoundly around gratitude in the last few years. Although I have never had difficulty finding things to be grateful for in my life, I would limit it to the events, circumstances, and things that felt good; that seemed to enhance my life. And, I was not fully aware of my feelings of gratitude in my every day life. It was almost as if I would wait for gratitude to be worthy of something I was experiencing, and then it would show up.
My practice has deepened to the degree that I now find Gratitude in most everything that I experience, including those times and circumstances that seem most difficult. Actually, those difficult life experiences end up being the things that I am most grateful for. In those moments of heartache, struggle and being gripped by one thing or another, I learn so much about myself, about others, and about what it is that I really want for myself. I am full of Gratitude most in those times, because I am slowly, but surely, setting myself free.
Of course, I don’t always remember to be grateful from day to day; and I still bear resentments, judgments, and deep insecurities at times. However, when I remember to choose Gratitude, which is more frequent all the time, I feel a sense of Surrender, Peace, Forgiveness and Love more deeply than I have ever known. And that is my saving grace; that is my freedom.