The Truth does not depend on whether or not you believe it. 💙
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.
Winter is not a favorite season of mine; I don’t like being cold, and I don’t like driving at this time of year. Yet, I love the feeling of being cozy, cocooned, and in a sense of hibernation of mode. Tucked away and allowing ideas to emerge during a period of perceived slumber.
I go out less. I feel quiet more. And, on the Winter Solstice, I see how the darkness starts to diminish, and the light gets warmer and stronger. Although this is a truth meteorologically, in that the days will now begin to get longer by a minute each day, and more light is available to us, it is more than that for me. Symbolically, it feels like the deepest darkness before the dawn, the deepest sleep before waking up.
This time of year is always very emotional for me, for many different reasons. I feel nostalgic for my family Christmases from long ago, and all of the people that were part of them. I remember and smile at the car rides to my grandparents’ house, over the river and through the woods. Riding on the toboggan down the hill in the field by our house with my siblings. New Year’s Eve parties, dressed in my finest attire, and drinking champagne at midnight with my friends. The sound of the creaky stairs as my young child attempted to sneak downstairs on Christmas morning, wanting to peek at what Santa delivered, without waking me up. Present moment awareness, and gratitude for all that is. Anticipation of what this new year, new decade, will hold. And, at times, a deep well of feeling completely alone and forgotten, and yet feeling more connected to others than ever before. The culmination of it all feels at its peak at this time of year, more than any other time of year for me.
I am living the most brilliant life, and feel more awake and real than ever before. I am vulnerable and forgiving. I am energized and peaceful. I am also unsure, lost in my thoughts and focused on the form of life. And, without wanting to live in the future, I know that every day that I am in my human form, breathing and alive, I will continue to learn, and grow, no matter what that looks like. I will keep moving closer and closer to the truth of all that is.
So, I love, honor, and appreciate the darkness. The solitude. The quiet and pensive way. The expansion of light. The nurturance of the new.
After all, flowers emerge from darkness and climb toward the light.
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.
I spent a lot of time in nature today. I laid down on large rocks, I walked on trails in the woods, and I breathed deeply in the air of the day. Nature is close by our home and we spend a great deal of time there. Taking the beauty in through all of our senses is a deep, healing experience. And, it helps always to remind me of the freedom that I have to contemplate life and circumstances from a variety of perspectives.
I am grateful for knowing that I have a choice. Many persons, including many in my life, do not know or understand that they have a choice in their perspective on the world. Whether they see themselves as a victim, as flawed or defective, as better than or more evolved than others, as only being their life circumstances and nothing else, they cannot see beyond these roles or situations. And, in addition to that, even if they are told that they have a choice to see things differently, they don’t understand that because they don’t believe that it is true.
The truth is, life is different depending on the perspective with which you look at it. Today, I lay upon a rock, that was the length and width of my body, and somewhat suspended between other rocks. First, I sat up looking around, and had one view. And, then I lay on my back, and just looked upward, and the view of course was somewhat different. So it is with my life.
I have had a boatload of shit that has gone down in my world in the last year. And, I mean, A LOT. Good, bad, sad, frustrating, blessed, and everything in between. And, if I believed in accumulation, of good or bad circumstances, then I would be believing that 2017 was one of the worst years of my life. However, I don’t believe in accumulation of circumstances. I guess because I have stopped believing in past, or future for that matter. I still understand that memories of the past and projections of the future will occur in my life, I don’t take them as seriously as I have before. I now believe that more than anything, the present moment is all that we have. And, I don’t consider that as a point of view; I consider it to be a fact. This, right now in this moment, is all that we ever have.
That reminds me that peace is always in my grasp, if I only just choose it. To look upon a small pine seedling, a pile of leaves crunching under my feet, or clouds that look like cotton streaks in the sky, or the arms of someone whom I have never met hugging me on the street. Those are moments of sweetness, of truth, love and abundance. And I can only fully experience them if I am present, as present as I possibly can be.
But, there are times I choose strife, and anxiety, and worry and belief that the past defines me or that the future will save me. And, then I remember that I can always change my perspective, and I remember that this moment is all that needs to grab my attention, and it carries within it every possibility of greatness, beauty, magic and eternity and infinity within it. That is my saving Grace.