Discomfort

 

Sometimes I forget, in the intensity of my journey, how my changes affect those around me.

As I have grown, shed, evolved, shed again, and continued to come back into alignment with myself the internal process has been all-consuming. Sometimes, the changes and shifts happen so fast that I don’t understand what has happened…sometimes it takes several months to really comprehend the edges of such things, much less the core. For most of this year, there has been so much inner flux that my concentration has primarily been on breathing from one moment to the next.

So, I suppose it’s understandable that I completely lost track of how my changes were affecting my outer world…and my perceptions of it. And it has…changed.

Through this process, I’ve become more and more aware of an inner restlessness and a pulling toward something, but I have had no idea what that something actually is. I would search for it in meditation, but it was too nebulous…like a bat in the night…fleeting and never quite identifiable. To be honest, I’m not sure if the fleetingness was due to the actual issue or my fear…for there was a great amount of fear. How could I step into that pulling when I didn’t even know what it was? I had a great job…I lived in a great town…I had a great life. I’d be a fool to throw that all away just because something was flitting about “out there” calling me. The whole thing seemed ludicrous to me, so I just shoved the impulse of my heart down and away and continued on.

But a funny thing happened…work began to lose its appeal. My co-workers were no longer so congenial. My boss became less competent and much more out of integrity. I kept bumping up against the walls of my home, where formerly I had felt a lot of room. Gradually, I became aware of all the cracks in my life…all the places that really weren’t so fabulous…all the things I had chosen to ignore for one reason or another.

I told myself I was just ungrateful…that I wanted too much…that I thought too much of myself. I tried to change my thinking by expressing gratitude for all the marvelous things in my life…of which there were many. And then another funny thing happened…the gratitude grew! I had lots and lots more to be grateful for, and so I expressed even more gratitude. But there was a side-effect…the discomfort with my life didn’t ease. Not even a little bit. Instead, it grew! 

How is that even possible?! I’m expressing gratitude for my amazing life…and believe me, it really is amazing…and my discomfort is not abating at all? Rather, my soul’s calling toward something bigger and greater, with more responsibility, more passion, more integrity, more consciousness grew with such intensity that there were times I just couldn’t sit still in my chair at work. 

But, I just couldn’t face this calling. It was too big…what if I couldn’t handle it? It was too much responsibility…what if I failed? It required too much of me…what if I couldn’t live up to my own expectations? What if I risked everything and was left holding nothing? I have responsibilities now…responsibilities I can’t just walk away from simply because my heart is calling me to some unknown, nebulous idea. That is just foolishness. So, down it went again. Yet, I continued to express daily gratitude.

And then work became unbearable. Co-workers’ practices became so distasteful to me that all trust eroded away. I suddenly saw them and their practices because I saw their true motivations, and I was appalled. I realized that my perfect life that I had so carefully guarded, defended, and had given my loyalty wasn’t at all what I thought it to be. But, maybe I could change it. Maybe, if I pointed out the areas that lacked integrity, these things could be fixed and I wouldn’t have to walk away. Maybe that’s why I was still in my job…to teach and to fix. So I opened my mouth.

Alas. My words resulted in me being labelled a troublemaker. My attitude was labelled contentious. My quality of work was called into question…even though the quality of my work was higher than ever before. My honor and my character were questioned and I was accused of things that would be impossible for my character to allow. My protests and scads of documentation fell on deaf ears. I stared in amazement as my life started to crumble. 

In a last-ditch effort, I asked for support from Human Resources and we began mediated conversations to try to reconcile the situation. Each week, as I entered the meetings, my internal discomfort increased. I sat in increased amazement as week after week I presented the documentation, studies, professional guidelines, and accepted practices against the reality of my job only to see blank faces staring back at me like I was a crazy person spewing an incomprehensible language.

Six weeks into the process I broke. I went home completely devastated. I asked my mother that night if I was insane. She said no. I called another friend…and another…and another…all asking the same question. They all replied with the same answer. I called other professionals in my same line of work. Same response.

I felt stuck.

Confused. 

I could see the problem…and the answer. Why wouldn’t anyone listen to me?

Then my heart called again. 

Wearily, I glanced in its direction. 

It invited me to imagine…to take a journey with my mind and heart aligned…to really examine my dreams, my hopes, my wishes, my needs, my wants…to see them fully and completely…free of fear. So, I did. The discomfort, however, didn’t go away…it only increased, because I finally could see. I could see that my present life is no longer in integrity with the internal changes I have made…and those internal changes are calling me to something else. Without the fear, I could see that while painful, my co-workers were honoring my heart more than I had. They were not letting me stay in my comfortable place when I really desired, and was ready for, something more. 

When Monday morning came, I walked into the Human Resources department and stated that it was time for me to leave my job. The response shocked me…they were shocked…the entire school, my boss, my co-workers…everyone. I was incredulous! How could they be shocked? Wasn’t this what they wanted? 

Wasn’t this also what you wanted?

As I walked back to my office, I heard a meeting adjourn in the higher realms. Chairs pushing back, sighs of relief as though breaths had been held, cheers, hands shaking, back clapping, and all kinds of murmuring. What came through most strongly to me was: She finally did it! She finally made a decision. Now we can get to work!

In that moment, I felt like a shell fell off my back.

I broke through.

I broke free.

I expanded into my full self.

The relief flooded in. 

I chose me. 

I chose my heart.

I choose the unknown.

I choose the void.

Let the miracles continue.

 

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Void

A curious calm creeps in once one accepts death. 

The mind chimes in: “I should fight this!” “You’ve given up!” “Fight!” “Run away!” “Look away!” “Death is your enemy!” “Death is horrific!” “Death is traumatic!” “Death is to be avoided!” “Death shouldn’t be peaceful!”

Really? That last thought startled me. What SHOULD death be like…if not peaceful?! So, once again, I sat…and just watched death take place within me.

Right about this time, my co-worker passed away from cancer, several friends lost their pets, my great-aunt passed away, and another aunt was diagnosed with stage-4 pancreatic cancer.

I stayed in my void space…watching death unravel my life…and others’ lives…and watching how we chose to navigate through the process of death and void. 

About this same time, The Wall Street Journal published an article on death…and because I could do nothing else, I laughed at its timeliness (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203918304577243321242833962.html). As I read the article, I felt joy welling up for the first time in months. Finally! Someone who gets it! Someone who knows how to help me! I realized that fighting against the inevitable only makes the rest of life that much harder for everyone. I watched it all around me…and within me. Yet…I also had compassion, both for my self and for those around me, facing this terrifying void…that in-between space…the space between life and death. That space after the diagnosis or event that signifies the beginning of the end and the actual end. That space between the end and the beginning. For…inevitably…there is a beginning…against all odds…in spite of all hope lost. It’s a law of The Universe. 

I realized that, as much as I wanted to share these thoughts with those around me, I also realized that such comments or suggestions of a perceptions shift would be received as harsh and unkind. So, I reluctantly chose to retreat to my solitude of void-ness and being…and watch my self. 

The pain and grief grew, crashed, then ebbed…repeatedly. They came in waves of intensity…and at unexpected moments. I vaguely knew what was happening, but it was so primal an experience, I couldn’t utter words to share it with anyone. I really was alone in the truest sense of the word. I gradually became stronger…better able to remain present with all my emotions…to suspend judgement and thoughts about the experience…to just feel it all…to allow it to be…without fear of drowning. And soon…it passed.

Then it was silent. Then it was quiet. Then it was peaceful. Then it was rest. Then it was nothingness. I was stripped bare…just my essence. And that’s when I realized the most important thing of all…I was in the most powerful place any being can experience…the place of unlimited potentials. In that moment, stripped of all previous limiting beliefs and thought forms, I was the Sacred Feminine. I was the Creator. I had the power to design and create me…without my physical body dying. The only question that remained was, What did I want to create?

So.

I explored.

I dreamed.

I experimented.

I stretched.

I contracted.

I tested.

I imagined.

I created. 

Death

What Dreams May Come (film)

What Dreams May Come (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There has been a lot of death in my life since New Year’s Day…the day it really began with conviction.

I’d been invited to several parties in order to ring in the new year, but as the sun set, my heart became increasingly heavy. By 6:00 that evening, I knew I wasn’t going anywhere. All I could handle was sitting on my couch, watching “What Dreams May Come” and sobbing. I thought it would pass. It didn’t.

The next day, New Year’s Day, I went to the beach. I took with me a bag filled with items for a ceremony. Even though it was a hot, sunny day, and lots of people were at the beach, The Universe conspired to protect my favorite hidey-spot so I could be in private. I lit candles, arranged my crystals, and invited beings of love and light to assist me in writing my intentions for the year.

I first wrote all the things I wanted to transform…all my beliefs, thoughts, emotions, behaviors, patterns, and relationships. I burned this paper and allowed the wind to carry the ashes into the ocean. Then, I wrote all the things I wanted to attract to me…new beliefs, thoughts, emotions, behaviors, patterns, and relationships. I also burned this paper, but then I buried it where plants were growing so that my intentions could also grow. I then sat and sobbed some more…feeling more relief and freedom within than I ever remember feeling.

A month later, a grandfather figure passed away unexpectedly. As I talked to my brother while walking the beach, I realized what I was experiencing…and had been experiencing since New Year’s Day…death within me. I wasn’t overcome with grief for my “grandfather”…I’ve faced physical death several times and don’t fear it for myself or others. I also grew up in a culture that honored death as a natural and necessary part of life…without death, life cannot persist. But, to have the self die…the internal parts of me…the very foundations on which I have built everything I know…on which I exist…in which my very thoughts and beliefs are anchored…this was unprecedented…and quite disorienting. Everything I knew and trusted…even if I didn’t like it or want it any longer…was falling away…and I had no idea how to be.

At first, I tried to understand it…to participate in it…to analyze it…to make sense of it and explain it. That only made it worse. It was only when I chose to breathe and sit with it and watch my essence shift with every breath that any flow or release began.

So.

I sat.

And breathed.

And allowed myself to exist…even though I had no idea my identity.

I AM.

It’s enough.

Wabi-sabi

wabi-sabi

I love old books. They have much more character and unique qualities which reveal so much more about who they are and where they’ve been than recently published books. Even the smallest flaws or irregularities excite me because I know that this is a one-of-a-kind and I’m inspired to discover all the eccentricities that this single book offers to me. The tiniest detail can often reveal the most magnificent thing about an old book. My favorite example comes from one of my favorite books: “People of the Book” by Geraldine Brooks.

“Ozren, it’s a fake, the thing in the vitrine. It’s a fantastic fake—the oxidized silver, the stains, the smeared pigments. I mean, we’ve all seen fakes, but this is outstanding. It’s a perfect replica. Perfect, except for one thing. The one thing that can’t be replicated because it hasn’t existed for three centuries.” I had to stop. I could hardly breathe. Werner was patting my hand as if I were a hysterical child. His hands, his hard, craftsman’s hands, had the usual perfectly manicured fingernails. I pulled away my ugly untended mitt and raked it through my hair.

Ozren was pale now. He stood.

“What are you talking about?”

“The parchment. The sheep that they made it from, that breed—Ovis aries Aragonosa ornata—it’s been extinct in Spain since the fifteenth century. What they’ve used, the pore holes, they’re all wrong…the size, the scatter…it’s parchment made from a different breed…”

How fantastic is that? To be able to tell how genuine something is by its irregularities…perfection in imperfection. Wabi-sabi. This term was introduced to me several months ago, but I struggled to truly understand and absorb its meaning and implication for me. Since then, I have been delightfully surprised in the most outrageous moments to realize I’ve just witnessed wabi-sabi. I’m only beginning to realize what wabi-sabi really means. In this culture of symmetry and thinness and young-ness and greed and deception and The American Dream, the idea of perfection is rather skewed toward a fake, illusionary perception that is perpetually programmed into Western society. And, when I choose to accept that definition of perfection as the only definition, I lose the one-of-a-kind genuine moments of beauty that surround me…the perfection in imperfection.

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