Love note from my future partner (NOT a short story)

She’s been “leaving” me for years (it’s not really leaving, it’s more like minding the gap that is required to keep our spark moving). In the beginning, I found it heart wrenching, but now I just know it is part of how I am here to love her. It’s not my favorite part of our relationship, but I’m just resilient and persistent enough to let her go, and each time, trust a deeper knowing, that we aren’t done.

This leaving habit of hers pre-dates me. In her early relationships, she stayed in the house, but left the premises emotionally, shutting down and cutting off the pieces of herself she couldn’t figure out to bring into the particular dimensions of the puddle of light of that relationship. I can think of no worse way to love her than to enable that.

In the beginning, it was hard. A wordsmith, she can be quite convincing when she explained that she’d reached her end with me. Even as her heart and my heart spoke differently, her exit was very convincing. Sometimes loud, worse when it was cold stone silent. For a while, it seemed erratic. Over time, I came to understand the paradox that sometimes “both” can be true – that she needed to be away, and also that she was, even in her exit, permanently and inextricably inside our togetherness.

So we have a relationship that is like swiss cheese, and whether that is judged as good or bad is my choice. It is all of one connected piece, and I can focus on that, or it is full of holes and I can focus on that. I’ve learned to now hold those holy spaces with a loving caress. When she goes away, she goes to grow, to feel her own breath, to reconnect to the quiet signal that can sometimes be hard to hear in the cacophony of our robust and gregarious life of family, tribe and community (and my noise?). What I’ve learned is, that signal inside her that is so clear and discernible to me and sometimes so elusive to her is a broad and undeniable call back to community and connection. She lives in connection, and I’m blessed to be one of her chosen connections.

I keep the light on, enjoy time with my and our other beloveds, and look forward to meeting and starting anew with her again and again, each time greeted at my open door by a partner for this next patch of life that is an upgrade from the one that just left me.

A Theorem about Love and Transformation

I attended a David White retreat this weekend. I took notes. Yeah, I’m that gal, sitting in the retreat center, surrounded by poets and yogis, treating the entire thing like an academic exercise. Needless to say, I got something out of it, though I’m not sure I fully accepted the invitation of what was to be gotten. It’s good though, so here I share with you some thoughts and words, straight from David White’s mouth through the gauzy haze of my intelligence, so this piece is part plagiarization, part synthesis, part knee-slapping insight. And a lot of love.

A Theorem about Love and Transformation

Let us start by agreeing on this:

You can not truly inhabit a world for which you do not have the language.

And then let us remind ourselves:

“Applying labels is a strategy of the mind,” not the heart, nor the soul. Labels are a feeble attempt to make something unknowable feel real in the moment. “The strategic mind is meant to assign temporary names so that you can be less terrified and move on; it cannot give you happiness, and it is not the part of yourself that helps you belong.”

Next, let us talk about change.

Transition is a time and place we tend to look down upon, but an inherent part of being courageous and stepping into transformation is accepting that change is where the previous identity gets subverted.

Finally, we all know love.

Love is the one and only, the most powerful and potent agent of transformation. We form relationships for the very purpose of growing. Love is always something out on the horizon, calling us to a deeper understanding of the language of itself and ourselves. Understanding love this way helps us see clearly that “the soul is the faculty of belonging to the largest horizon you can find.”

And so, I believe “we name our love always too soon and in that naming, we create limits.”

It is not until we abase ourselves to the Love itself
that it can fully unfold and grow itself and us
into what is meant to be.
Love named too early can only grow to the limits of that overly eager label
which our waning identity offered to understand the impending self and love
before either had fully become.
This paradox can feel excruciating, especially to the mind, who thinks there is something to do.
But I will offer you this gift:
Transformation isn’t something that you do, it is a becoming,
it is a remembering of the language of your soul.
If your mind insists on action, simply take yourself in the direction of that horizon that is calling you.
“Go to the place where the conversation is happening.
Then just crack your heart open a little,
And let it in.”

What is in my hands?

I have just learned from David Whyte about a certain sect of Irish monks who pray, not with their hands together, but with them out and palms up. We have two hands, David reminds us, one for receiving and one for giving.  So the invitation I take from this insight is to wonder a series of important questions about my giving and receiving:

Are my hands presently held in balance?  Is my giving equal to my receiving, or am I favoring one over the other? Am I giving gifts that are of a nature that is in sync with what I have been given? Am I giving what is needed, or simply what I am seeking to receive?

This last question is one that deserves my significant attention.  Sometimes givers (and yes, I include myself in this characterization) aren’t altruistic at all. Needy givers can impose their “gifts” unsolicited onto others in order to allow themselves to feel significant, in effect, to manufacture self-importance. David implored the audience to “make yourself large enough to be able to hold what you have been given.” Trying to understand this will be a significant shift in perspective for me. My practices in expansiveness have been about becoming large enough that my grief is small in comparison to my wonder and appreciation, or so that I can be capable of giving without becoming depleted. It had not occurred to me that the expansion was for greater getting. But in David’s model, the two-handed monk model, this makes perfect sense – larger hands to accept, hold gently, and then pass on greater gifts.

And this beckons an even deeper wondering:

What have I been holding for far too long, that I can set down or pass on, to empty my palms so that they are ready for what is up next for me to receive, share, and give?

 

Sometimes the Answer is a Question

 

 

I have a story that sometimes my take on reality doesn’t align with others. Sometimes it’s just a very different memory of what words were said; sometimes it’s remembering meeting someone in one place or time, while they remember the meeting in a slightly different place or time; sometimes it is about having a completely different take on the emotional context of an interaction. I expect this is a universal experience, and I’m curious about what other folks do when they have this experience.

For me, a common strategy is to request validation or reality checking; I am trained as a scientist, and the inquiry process is important to me. When my understanding of reality is divergent with the “common” or at least an “other” view, I like to ask my partner, family, or co-observer(s) this fundamental questions:

IS THERE TRUTH TO MY OBSERVATION AND UNDERSTANDING OF THIS REALITY?

In a more simplistic way, the question is:

IS THIS TRUE?

Again, my story is that the answers I have gotten often in the past, at least the ones I am coming to realize I have most deeply internalized are three pretty cumbersome answers:

  • No, that’s not true.
  • I don’t want to talk about it
  • What the hell is wrong with you?

Now, I’m certain I’ve gotten lots and lots of other good answers, but these three stones are the ones I’ve let most deeply into my heart, and they are the ones I use to beat myself with when I am in my quietest self reflection and I ask MYSELF “Is this true?” Here is a certainty: this is not a useful conversation to have with myself. And, I love myself unconditionally, so I am ready for a broader spectrum of answers to my question.

Luckily, my life is filled with beautiful people who also like to answer and ask all sorts of questions, with whom I have discovered and have witnessed so many other answer choices. So here are some other possible answers that I like, and I love that most of them are questions. And I am enjoying the process of internalizing these, and also sharing them with you. I welcome additional contributions to this list!

So, the question is: IS THIS TRUE?

Frankly, I think this would work with any question.

And here are some PRIME CHOICE ANSWERS:

  • That is a beautiful question.
  • Yes.
  • No.
  • I don’t know.
  • I don’t know, yet.
  • What’s the evidence?
  • It is not my understanding of truth, but I believe you.
  • What does your mind believe?
  • What does your heart say?
  • How does your body feel about it?
  • What does your intuition know?
  • Is your truth coming from spirit?
  • Are you sure that is the right question?
  • What is under that question?
  • Do you know why you are asking that question?
  • What is your deepest need?
  • I have no answer, but I am curious about how can I be of service to you in your exploration of your answer?
Human Awareness
Human Awareness

The Opening Chapter

OK, so I dropped a few layers. I still have a personality, an ego structure, a history, and an opinion about things, but I am also less driven from those forces as I am driven from a place of awakening and now awareness.

My experience last week (with Ashamarae and my current beloved) wasn’t insight, or understanding a good career opportunity when I see one, or “letting go” of some thoughts that have been troubling me. My experience last week didn’t even take place exclusively last week, that particular string of moments was simply a more tightly concentrated connection of moments that lead to a nice “Aha!” discovery, but what was there to be “Aha’d” has been here all along and would be here even if I hadn’t noticed. Last week was simply one of the precious first moments where I let in some help to really pay attention, and so I did.

It came about because I’ve learned to practice – meditation, listening, feeling, compassion in a way that was at first self-serving and thankfully has begun to shift to being of service. It was the logical next step of learning to meditate, of awakening my energy body, of beginning to let in the truth that this idea of separateness is an illusion. It was the next gift after learning how to access what the Buddhist call the “God Realm,” come back to what we call the “Human Realm,” and notice that neither is the true reality. (And the also the same experience with the “Hell Realm.”

It was possible because I became willing to turn to face and walk straight into the thoughts and feelings that have been most compelling – be they extremely attractive compelling or extremely aversive compelling. So long as I was unwilling to think of myself as worthy of the beauty of those compelling ideas that were enticing me, so long as I believed myself too weak to experience those compelling ideas that were scaring me, I was driven by those ideas and was therefore less aware. One by one, as I’ve turned into and deconstructed those compulsions, they have dis-integrated. This brought me to the emptiness, to the question, to letting go of the argument with the question, or wanting to get the question right, or even believing that I’d ever get an answer to the question.

Now, the tiniest taste of awareness has come and it is like one of those life changes that is like jumping off a cliff. There is no going back, and only the faintest idea of what the landing place looks like. And although what I understand is vast and amazing, I have the deep knowing that I’ve got only the tiniest inkling of a clue here. It is just like the books and (non snake-oil salesmen) gurus say, only not at all like that. All of these things we say to describe what it is are metaphors. And there are 7 billion of us, each with a very unique configuration of personality, ego structure, history and opinions about things, so many many metaphors are needed. Pick your philosophy, pick your path, it is not important, the how. It isn’t even important that we all awaken, but wouldn’t it be great if we did?

I’m not entirely ready to share what my particular insight into the oneness is, partly because I am reluctant to sully it with words, but mostly because I understand it is the tiniest little insight that has had to be interpreted through my silly little human mind and when I describe it in words, I will get it 99% wrong. And because it isn’t important that you know what my awareness is, it is important that you know what your awareness is.

And also, it is important that you know that awareness is possible in this lifetime, even for a middle aged house wife so inclined most of her life in overthinking and senseless chatter.
So get to it, and if you want some encouragement, radical honesty, undefended love, compassion and empathy on your path, let me know.

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Something happened. It’s called Undefended Love.

Something happened.

It was just a thought, really, when you look deeply enough. So some thought happened, and everyone involved had really big ideas about what that meant. Big ideas. Thoughts about a thought, as if that is what matters. But this time, we did something different – we tried letting this thing completely BE rather than trying to make something else happen.

We let the thing be and we paid attention, and that lead us to the thoughts and then the thoughts to unveil the feelings, and we let those into the light as well. And those all just turn out to be either desire or aversion, and we let that be, and under that, we could see the deeper truth, and I’ll tell it to you now:

It isn’t about the thing. It isn’t about the thought. It isn’t about the desire or the aversion, or about what happened or who you think you are. It’s about where this all comes from, and what is below that. That’s the lesson. The thing, the decision, the outcome of that decision, these are nearly irrelevant.

Letting myself be fully seen, to see with undefended love, has changed me. I think I just shed half a person and am now bare, light, released from a lifetime of story. That thought experiment brought so much into focus for me. Life is short. I want my time to matter. I want to live in love and nothing else matters. In love with art, in love with myself, in love with my people, in touch with whatever those people call God. I want each moment, the love making ones, the ones where I am a wretched puddle on the floor, the ones where I’m preparing a meal for myself and my family, to be fully experienced, unburdened by what I think should happen or how I feel about what happened before.

Today, the absurdity of e-mail and washing dishes and that there are practical things like bills to pay and train schedules is making me laugh. I used to think it was about these things. Sometimes, I used to even cry about these things. Ha!

So I say to myself: Give the people attached to these things a bare look. Such sweet small souls, each carrying these giant heaping piles of armor and baggage, making these Herculean and inherently flawed attempts to connect through all that. Look at yourself doing the same. Isn’t it amazing how much energy we have to keep trying this experiment in belonging, in knowing ourselves?

And then I say: I love you.

And that is all that matters.

http://undefendedlove.com/

The stories we tell ourselves

I’m thinking about the way we make our existence, moment to moment, by the way we choose to be (or fail to be) in each of those moments. I used to think it was all about how we spend our minutes… where, with whom, what activity… and now it is feeling like setting is less relevant than voice.

See, I’ve been to amazing places of beauty, and been miserable there — constantly rethinking past abuses, scheming futures, or even just having conversations in my head that were less true than the simplicity, joy and beauty of the present moment. I’ve also been to places others would find enormously challenging or just uncomfortable or boring, and found myself deep in wonder and healthy growth. Mind you, setting matters, and can create something conducive or contrary to achieving “right mind,” but the real juice happens inside.

So, when I was little, there were all sorts of events that transpired that were formative- oh, you too, right? It bothers me how I, my therapist, and the personal growth community focus so heavily on the stories where those experience formed something wrong in us we now must overcome, broke something in us we now must repair, or failed to meet a need we now must work to understand. For most of my life, when I’ve been asked about how I grew up, I told those stories, and consequently, much of my life has felt sad, incomplete, or otherwise not good enough.

But I’m telling you now, there were other experiences too! Certain as I am sitting here – in one of the wealthiest countries in the world with a nearly miraculous piece of technology in my hand (when you really think about), thinking cogent thoughts in a generally in tact body- certain as that, I clearly MUST have also had some formative experiences that went right, helped me grow parts of self that clearly serve me well, and met my basic and more subtle needs.

Why the disproportionate focus on the deficits? What does this focus do, day after day, thought after thought, new experience after new experience, to chip away at the sense of wholeness and grace that is our birthright? And I am so curious to notice what has happened inside of me, and in my immediate constellation, as I have invited those other stories, the ones about abundance, to be heard.

I believe that this scanning for what is wrong is cultural, and it is making us individually into sick, over indulged, miserable S.O.B.s. And I am beginning to know it is a choice, how we hold our awareness. As an illustration, have you noticed how when Americans travel to poorer countries, we are always shocked to notice happy people there? We are so ingrained with a distorted understanding of where happiness comes from. Notice how the people who have vacationed abroad experience this as an anomaly they talk about, but the people who have spent time really living abroad have shifted to a wholely different world view?

As another example, I cut most TV out of my life a couple of years ago as an experiment, and it has completely changed my view of the world. I feared that I would feel disconnected and uninformed. To the contrary, I feel more connected to the information that matters, and I spend my online time exploring stories my carefully culled (no negative noisy people) Facebook community delivers. I watch TedTalks, Buddhist lectures, and films that have made it onto my radar screen enough for the name to stick and prompt me to go find it. I am now acutely aware of the contrast when I get around tv, where the constant deluge of news tells us that the world is scary and that we need to get some more stuff, and then worry about how to keep that stuff safe. Why? Because most of the ways we seek solace in this culture is in acquisition of external comforts, and the makers and sellers of these comforts underwrite the news. So, in its barest form, we tell ourselves scary bedtime stories and then wake up every day to the need to comfort ourselves because the world is so bad.

One of the basic Eastern meditations on compassion starts with visualizing the loving care of your mother. When masters first brought this meditation to the U.S., they were shocked to learn that this very same meditation brings up anger, sadness, and anything but a universal source of compassion in Western practitioners. I find this story to be amazing, both as a daughter and as a mother. How have we created a culture in which our most fundamental and basic form of nurturing is generally perceived as not good enough? Think about it – in those countries where poverty is more pronounced and opportunities are more limited, people generally regard their mothers with gratitude and appreciation, yet in a country where we have all of our needs met and most of our wants, we tell stories of deprivation.

I’m going to end by saying that our stories matter… the good, the bad, the truthful ones we all have in common and the illusion ones we make up for so many ego personality reasons. I’m not saying we should stop telling our sad stories, or the stories where we were hurt, or violated, or truth was not served. Telling these stories is a key step to breaking free of the pain they caused. But I am inviting myself to also be mindful of the weight, time, energy, and heart space I give to the various types of stories I tell myself, and to scan for at least as many good as bad. I’ll let you know how that goes.

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