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.

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?

 

This isn’t something to work on, it is a celebration of life

At Kirtan on Saturday, for the first time, I reached a stillness so deep, that I could feel the clarity and intensity of my own heart beat like I was being rocked by a wave. I found a deep slow breath, a gentle placement of my closed eyes slightly up and centered. I felt my heart open. I became presence.

From there, I could open my eyes, smile, and see. Not look around – See.

There were children dancing joyfully, some were rambunctious, some cooperative, some silly. There was a flow to their play, coming together, and pulling back into their individual trajectories. The young warrior fathers danced with the children, gently powerful and potent. The young mothers held hands and danced and spun, or sat strong and ready as their little ones flitted over for a pat before going back to the celebration of movement. This observation landed in me as a very simple statement. I could see these families choosing to spend their Saturday evening together in loving joyful tribal community.

I felt these words: They are doing this right.

My lover danced in the joy of feeling his body. He invited me to dance, and I knew my place in this moment was to witness. He danced a lyrical communication of the mystery of spirit and love which I don’t yet understand. I feel honored to be his student in this. And he danced the longings in his heart, longings I also know well, and I feel honored to be one of his teachers in this. I felt sadness at my recent struggles with seeing him as a gift for me, rather than for this truth.

Again, words arrived: Hold this one lightly.

The older people and the young seekers, the guides and the musicians, were the roots of the room. I could feel them each, and I could feel them all, and I could begin to understand the mystery that I’ve always had, and always will have, a place in this continuum. Even before this understanding, I have offered myself in service as the child, the seeker, the lover, the mother. With this awakening, I will now be able to offer myself as the guide and some day, as the elder. And always as the seeker and the lover and the mother, and as the student and the teacher.

Here more words: I belong.

I reached these words in the stillness.
In these words, the stillness reaches me.
My mind is not here to make these words, it is here to understand them. I felt tender and naked from this human awareness, electrified and alive from my loving relationships, and harmoniously connected to myself. And I could see with clarity. I could feel what matters, how what matters is always in abundance, and how little the rest matters.

This landed in me as this simple mantra:
This isn’t something to work on, it is a celebration of life.

Holding the stillness and this mantra together, I allowed it to become an exploration.

This relationship isn’t something to work on, it is a celebration of life.

This child isn’t something to work on, it is a celebration of life.

This role isn’t something to work on, it is a celebration of life.

My work isn’t even something to work on, it is a celebration of my life.

The tears that accompanied this truth poured gently from my eyes, and I felt no need to hide them or wipe them away, so they created a sweet stream that caressed my face, my chin, my neck, and pooled in my heart.

This was gift enough, more than I had expected would happen, and then I received even more. As the evening began to come to a close, the last mantra was an invitation for each of us to envision the way in which we can use a portion of our lives in service to one another, to our families, to our communities, to spirit, to the earth. It wasn’t a call, or an order, it was an offering of the gift of knowing. In this sacred space, I received a clarity.

First and foremost, my service is love, and absolutely nothing else matters. Any detail of location, destination, logistics, who is there, what shape it takes, is secondary, or even insignificant.

I explored this.

What of my adult loving relationships? The answer was Love. Who to love and what it means for my future, is secondary. Because there is always enough love, and if this one beautiful person has his or her own calling, my love gives only one choice: joyous celebration. This isn’t something to work on; it is a celebration of life.

What of my children? Love. This, so simple. Nothing to engineer, nothing to do right or wrong. Lovingly witnessing their becoming and joyously celebrating their choices and empathetically holding them in their struggles, even if their struggles include me, is all I’m required to do. Loving is doing it right. This isn’t something to work on; it is a celebration of life.

What of home? Also simple. My home has spaces for stillness and spaces for joyous celebration for me, for my children, for whomever feels drawn to join us here. My home will be a place of refuge and community. For love. This isn’t something to work on; it is a celebration of life.

What of work? This one particular ego struggle became the lightest and most insignificant of my mysteries to understand. My employment can be my work, or it can be the source to fund my work. If it is the source to fund my work, it can also be an opportunity to live lovingly in every one of those interactions. This isn’t something to work on; it is a celebration of life.

This isn’t something to work on; it is a celebration of life.

So I set an intention to reconnect to this stillness, this mantra, during the next day, to allow it to become familiar, a new form of muscle memory. I realize this will be a practice. The next day turned out to be a day, precisely like every day, in which I was invited to contemplate connection, commitment, the preciousness of time, and living with purpose. It was a day in which I was invited to ask how I will choose to live this one life. And I know. And this knowing isn’t something I needed to invent or create or work on. It was given to me.

So, during the day, I experienced sadness about the times when I believed there was not enough. I felt the pull to drop back into that familiar story of scarcity and grief. And also, I breathed, I found the stillness. And I felt gratitude for this moment when there is enough.

And I experienced regret for my past actions when I was disconnected from living love, when I was driven by neediness or ego or my unreliable thoughts. I felt the pull of self-pity. And also, I breathed, found the stillness, listened to this awakening heart, and found gratitude for having made my own discoveries of doing it wrong.

And I experienced a joyful noticing of how the abundance I receive when I stopped trying to collect, is a profoundly infinite abundance my egoic mind never could have imagined in that misguided desire to control and predict. I found surrender.

I experienced longing for home. And in my breath, in my stillness, gratitude for the chance to create.

And I lived this one day as true to my calling as I ever have.
I honored love. I honored the struggle. I honored the path –
For myself, for my family, for my community.

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Truth & Reconciliation

Notice the title of this post, and the concept it conveys? Truth & Reconciliation. It’s not justice. It’s not winning. It’s not even forgiveness.
It’s reconciliation. To reconcile. Requires the truth.

But is there ever really a single “The” truth? My truth right now is that each of us has in common a desire to be seen, to feel part of a collective that is more than self serving, and to love.

Stan Dale, founder of the Human Awareness Institute said that everything is either love, or a cry for love. Damn straight truth there. So I find myself trying to reconcile the truth of my own actions. I find myself sorting my past actions and behaviors, choices and non-choices into these two buckets:
“Good, that was love.” and “Ooops, cry for love.”
And then wanting to come clean, to move forward with a greater intention to check my future actions against this litmus: Are you loving, or are you crying out for love? Will this action/request/word cause connection or harm? It’s like a mini version of the recovery Step 4. In that step, you make amends with those you have harmed, with the important disclaimer that you do so ONLY when doing so does not cause greater harm.

And there is the rub. That judgement of knowing, before hand, whether I am acting from a place of giving or taking. There are specific people I love who I long to provide with an explanation, an apology, a promise for something better in the future, but I have not been invited to do so. Without the ask, without specifically asking or being asked, stomping in to make these declarations is a dump, a taking, an attempt to spackle over my own wounds. It would not be an act of love, even if my intention was to do good.

So perhaps a review, a breathing into the truth of my own actions with the honesty of the impact it has had on others, a quiet contemplation of what could have been an alternative choice. Perhaps this internal investigation will acclimate me to the process and next time it can run through the steps before I act, or fail to act.

Here’s the truth: I’ve loved, lied to, tried earnestly to help, over-shared with, and hurt the people in my village. I acted. Someone was hurt. From the perspective of the person who was hurt, that certainly may have felt like abuse. Does this mean I have been abusive? I guess it does. Strong word there. Maybe abusive comes from an INTENTION to cause pain, and I’m fairly certain that the vast majority of my actions have come from a misguided attempt to help or be helped. Or my utter inability to know what was the right thing to do. My abusive behavior has been a cry for love. That doesn’t justify it. But perhaps it saves me the label of “Abuser.” Perhaps, at least in my own mind, it negates the power of that word applied anywhere to anyone. Perhaps all abusive acts are committed by people who are miserably failing in their longing to be seen, to figure out how to be part of a collective that is more than self serving and to love? I know so many tales of abuse that are hard to filter through that lens, but perhaps that is the work of truth and reconciliation.

And what of NOT acting? That can cause harm as much as harmful actions can. I have avoided, walked away from, failed to share, failed to see and love people in my village. I failed to act. Someone was hurt. From the perspective of the person who was hurt, that certainly may have felt like abandonment or neglect. Does this mean I have been neglectful. Absolutely. And I have a story of having been abandoned by others. When I run that through the “Stan love filter,” I arrive again at truth and reconciliation. I can see that neglect or abandonment as a cry for love, by someone who is failing to have enough love, not someone who is intentionally withholding it for some nefarious purpose.

I’m going to hold onto my faith and belief that each of us does our best with what we have. Some of us, for some time, just don’t have what is required to show up, stay, deliver, or do anything but self serve. I’ve done this. People I love have done this. I want to stop seeing the world through the victim/abuser binary. I want to see the world through the lens of love, or not enough love. I guess the opportunity to shift this thinking is to stop using language that actions and neglect are done “TO” someone. The action happened. That is the truth. Assuming that I can understand another’s motive is a path of great suffering for me. But asking myself if this feels like love, and walking towards it, that is something I can do. Asking myself if this feels like a cry for love, and then ASKING if there is some way I can be of service, that is something I can do.

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A Mantra

I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you.

I believe that each of us wants,
individually, as a pair bonded unit,
as a family, as a tribe,
as a culture and as a collective is quite simple:
To be truly seen and from that truth, to be connected.

I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you.

I know that what we focus on grows.
Love is infinite but time and energy are not.
My wish is to practice with intense effort
and a light heart the act of sharing my time and energy
growing ideas and relationships that are worthy
of that preciously finite energy and time.

I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you.

I sit quietly with my own personal yearning
to be seen, to live in love, to connect.
I humbly honor that desire as good
and accept where my actions,
ego, thought, and learned personality
have interfered with the goodness of that quest.
I especially allow myself to feel
the suffering this has caused others.

I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you.

I’m sorry.
I’m sorry for not allowing myself to be fully seen.
I’m sorry for not fully seeing you.
I’m sorry for the pain this has caused.

Please forgive me.
Please forgive the words I said that hurt.
Please forgive the words I omitted that would have healed.
Please forgive me.

I love you.
I love your striving to make more love in the world.
I love your willingness to lean into the discomfort of that.
I love your capacity for love.

Thank you.
Thank you for being my teacher.

I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you.

And now, a time for silence,
to remember that some words do not need to be spoken,
some thoughts do not need to be fed.