I Understand

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I understand.

 

I want you to know this in a powerful way.

In a deeper way.

In a way that takes you out of the foxhole you are fighting from.

 

I understand.

 

What it feels like to give it your all

To do everything in your power

To be told that it is enough

And to stumble at the finish line

You believed you were meant to reach

And in the lonely hours that follow

asking what the point is

knowing the right answer that sounds good in your head

and feeling punched in the gut regardless

 

I understand

 

Watching a loved one lose their grip on life

And seeing them hold on so tight

You hold on tight too

And then they learned how to let go

But forgot to give you that instruction manual

And like locked fingers after releasing a heavy load

You don’t know how to open up again.

 

I understand

 

Sitting and feeling paralyzed

As if the smallest task was hoisting a 300 pound weight

And the shame of feeling lazy

And unproductive

And knowing you are none of those things

And wanting the words to explain it

Feeling the need to explain it

Waiting until the feeling passes

Hiding in movie theaters

And in plain sight

until you can engage life again

 

I understand

 

When out of nowhere tears form behind your eyes

And no one else knows behind your calm stare

Is a raging river ready to burst over

And you control it

For now

Suffering through emotional incontinence

Knowing you have no control when

And a healthy fear of looking at why

 

I understand

 

The courage it takes to get of bed

And show up when every bone in your body says otherwise

when people say you are an extrovert

it means something

and when you walk slower in a hallway or sidewalk to avoid talking to someone

It means you are a bad person

Every time you say “what is wrong with me”

 

I understand

 

I am also learning

Present tense

Still figuring it out

 

I want you to know this in a powerful way

In a deeper way.

In a way that takes you out of the foxhole you are fighting from.

 

I am also learning

 

That the sun doesn’t really rise and fall

It’s not dramatic like that

The world just keeps on spinning

And if I stay grounded with my eyes open

I get to see and participate in life as it happens

Instead of feeling like it’s happening to me

 

I am also learning

 

To accept that I too will die

And allowing that knowledge to add value to today

Not as moments to be hoarded

But moments to be LIVED

And the more I hold on to the heavy things in life

The harder it will be to receive unanticipated blessings when they arrive

Its like that

With the moments that truly change our lives

They are not planned events

more like the wind whipping up out of nowhere

and instead of bracing yourself against it

you take a deep breathe in and feel alive again

 

I am also learning

 

Change does not arise from hiding

Or the belief no one will understand

And that tools make life easier

No one ever called the invention of the wheel a weakness

And so when I encounter a new way to ease my practice of living

That doesn’t dull and keeps me engaged in life

It’s worth a look

And that discovery will happen

In transparent conversation

With another

 

I am also learning

 

I need to cry more

And stop editing at the false bottom of release

To spend more time talking and sharing bout what lurks beneath

Not as a deepening of sadness

But an uncovering of layers

bringing it into the light

And saying out loud to every darkness that lurks,

In the immortal words from Labyrinth

 

“Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered I have fought my way here to the castle beyond the Goblin City to take back the child you have stolen, for my will is as strong as yours and my kingdom as great. You have no power over me!”

 

I also understand

I will fall down again

I will forget all I have learned

And maybe

When I sit clutched in fear and fury in my foxhole

You will understand

And tell me what you have learned

And this is how

We love each other

building our community

of human beings

Making each other great

And whole

The Binary Consequence of Attachment and the Arising Joy of Now

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In Buddhism, there are eight worldly conditions of life identified that are at the central route of much of our own suffering during our physical lives. They are broken into four pairs of opposites. They are;

Gain and Loss

Praise and Criticism

Fame and Disrepute

Pleasure and Pain

As human beings, no matter how hard we try, we will experience all of the above at some point in our lives, often several times over. The presence of any one in a pair will lead to the manifestation of the other.

I call this the binary consequence of attachment.

The easiest place to look is gain and loss as it is something most of us have experienced and have a memory of from an early age. I remember the first time my mother took away a toy of mine as “punishment” for being bad. I had initially gained the toy and infused it with the ownership of “mine” and the responsibility of happiness. Its removal from my life created a vacuum of happiness, as if my identity were ripped at the seams.

Flash forward to adult life and the mechanics are the same, just different objects. Last week I lost a brand new winter hat. I loved this hat, it made me look good and I spent hard earned money it. It made me feel, attractive, confident, warm and I experienced GAIN. Even though I know that hat is gone, I keep looking for it. No other hat will do because that was THE HAT. How could another hat possibly keep me warm? I am lazy, irresponsible and careless with money. I have LOSS.

Here’s the sneaky part. The moment I started to infuse the hat with meaning for good, I guaranteed an eventual loss. This is the binary consequence of attachment. In and of themselves, experiences in life can bring us endless amounts of joy. The key difference is that joy does not arise from attachment, it arises from present moment awareness, and fully dedicating yourself to the experience that is really happening in your life.

Instagram is a great example for describing the above, and a daily reminder for me on how fast ego and the eight worldly conditions can spring into action.

The entire platform is engineered to create content and then share that content with real time feedback on whether or not your content is liked, viewed and generates connection. So lets say I share something on Instagram and it receives 100 likes. I instantly feel the pleasure of being liked, the fame of being seen, the active praise those little hearts communicate and maybe even the gain of a few friends.

And then the bottom drops out. Two days later I post something and my pride and ego from the previous post have set sufficient expectation that this is going to top the last post. BOOM!!!!

….. and 34 likes. What is happening? Why do people hate me? I am a fraud. People are sick of reading my shit. Why did you even post that? Someone un-followed me? #Imdead No one cares. Blah, Blah, Blah.

And it happens like that, the moment expectation and attachment to outcome is not met. The high of posting something that achieved gain, pleasure and fame instantly creates the fertile soil for loss, pain and disrepute.

As part of my journey over the last several months, I am beginning to find a way out, a way that brings peace and most of all, joy. It is the practice of enjoying, with the most present moment awareness I can create, whatever I am doing or what is, in my life. I am free to interact with anyone I meet without agenda. If I experience loss, I don’t focus on what the loss has taken way, rather how I can enjoy what IS NOW PRESENT in my life. I will share much more about this later.

Today I am sharing the first longer form poem I have written in several years. I wrote it last night sitting at a bar that also serves late night coffee as I am on day 21 of who knows how long of removing alcohol from my life. More about that later as well.

This is not a poem that will or even should receive any critical acclaim. It is presented as another step on the path of discovering my dharma, and sharing it with the world.

I am not mad

Red is not the color I see

I simply choose to be

This is my free

From society

Wanting me

Angry.

I am not sad

Reject your perception of blue

Embrace what is true

Each day is new

In the morning dew

Sunlight’s hue

My coup.

I’m not jealous

Joy is not a prize to be won

We all stand in the sun

Envy Arson.

Accept what is done

Wanting none

Become.

I’m not happy

A soaring balloon that will fall

Inflated protocol

Crackpot cure-all

Dubious drywall

I install

Over all

I’m down with Joy

Spontaneous-no cost attached

Or wits that must be matched

The now is hatched.

Life’s purpose dispatched

Soul Impact

I attract

I accept death

Impermanence as we decay

Bodies wither away

This moment-Stay

Begin again day

After day

Today

About Me-Updated

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One of the most important things I have learned in the last 6 months, is how connected we all are and how what we have in common may act as the pathway to discovering the ultimate connection, that oneness within us all we all share.  Perhaps we are even more connected than you know. In the spirit of that discovery, I have updated the About me section of this blog.

I am 36 years old and enthusiastically identify as Gen X.

I have lost a parent

I am learning to rediscover another

I have two brothers that love me

I can spend more time loving them

 

I grew up in a small town

Went to college in a bigger town

Dropped out of college

Had my heart broken as a teenager

And as an adult

 

I have had almost every hairstyle

Shoulder length

Shaved

Bowl

Cornrows

No dreadlocks

And never shaved only down the middle

There is still time

 

I have been addicted to drugs

I have been addicted to alcohol

I am currently addicted to pizza

Seriously

I have been overweight

 

I loved wearing sweatpants in school as a kid

Then I wore a uniform from 4th grade through 12th grade

And dressed like a bum throughout college

And most of my early 20’s

Then I saw Ryan Gosling in a Hugo Boss suit in Fracture

And decided to compromise

 

I have lied in the past to look good

And avoid looking bad

for fear of punishment

and to manipulate praise

for all the bad reasons

because good ones don’t exist

 

I watch too much TV

I LOVE watching movies

But don’t really like movies made before 1964

Stand By Me is my favorite

 

I was a mathlete in middle school

Don’t ask

The first book I remember feeling moved by was A Celestine Prophecy

I once told my fellow 4th graders at recess that I was pacifist

I explained it meant I wouldn’t hit back……

Should not have explained that

 

I love playing basketball

But not the practice

I loved acting

But not the practice

I love writing

But only when it comes easily

I love anything that comes easily

You know

Anything I don’t have to practice at

Except Yoga

I love practicing yoga

 

I love just about every type of music

my first love was grunge

I used to tell people I liked everything

except country

that was the thing to say

and now I like country

and have fallen asleep to the sound of Metallica

 

I am a hard worker

When I know it will get me ahead

Whatever that means

If I could go back I would remind myself

Not all hours spent working are productive

To be proud of a job well done

Not of a job well perceived

 

I have never been a bully

But I have sat down when I should have stood up

I am sorry for those moments

And I endeavor to never sit

When the moment to stand arrives

 

I love making people laugh

I laugh out loud

Often about 2 seconds after everyone else

It just takes time for the joke to hit me

I love listening to people sing

And although I wish I could

I’m not the best singer

Except in the shower and elevator

There I am a star

 

I love works of art

And I draw stick figures

And label my drawings when not clear what is drawn

Really

My 7th grade art teacher threatened to take me off the honor roll unless I drew something else

She allowed stick figures after I submitted ‘something else’

 

I often think about running for office

Then I see the news

And I don’t

Then I think about what I could change

And I do

Until I tell myself the system is broken

And I don’t

 

I used to believe in God

Then I didn’t

Then I did

Then being agnostic was cool

Or calling it a higher power

Then I didn’t think about it at all

And now I do

And I believe we are all connected

And I believe

You know

 

My favorite color is blue

It’s the color of my eyes

my mom’s favorite color

the color of her eyes

 

I am very skilled at starting things

Less skilled at continuing things

A novice at finishing things

An amateur at engaging in feedback after something is finished

A virgin at being okay with completing something that failed

I give up before I can fail

It’s my paradoxical parachute

Opening it ensures I crash

 

I will hesitate to hit send on this post

Just like when I want to call to my friends

And I have AMAZING friends

It’s not about you

Always about me

 

I do believe that sharing who we are

And holding space for others that do

is the foundation for connection

I don’t share enough

I would like to share more

I commit to sharing more

Starting now