Another year has rolled past and for me it was at times a painfully slow roll. It reminded me of a class in college almost 25 years ago. The professor was a mild mannered, aging hippy; complete with ponytail tied, not with a rubber band, but a piece of old leather cording. I was a geology major and just as granola as the professor. He was very knowledgeable and the cadence of the class, stratigraphy, was on par with how long it to for the strata we looked at to have morphed from sand to stone.
The classes and field trips were well planned and enjoyed by most. (As I am sure, dear reader, you are aware that there are always a few humans who need to complain no matter what.) Anyway, about two weeks into classes, as we were learning about the law of superposition, our quiet peaceful professor suddenly turned from the chalk board (yes, there were chalkboards in college-that’s how old I am) and began a rant about his ex wife, loudly, emphatically with gesticulations and maybe spittle.
Then just as fast as it began, it was over and he turned back to the chalk board continuing the lesson as if the whole diatribe never happened. Clearly he was a catastrophist! A uniforitarian would never exploded like that!
These outbursts happened randomly in every class I had with this professor. Initially it was shocking- was he crazy? A few screws loose? Overtime we adjusted to it and it became a normal part of his classroom experience.
The effusive eruptions didn’t make him a bad teacher, on the contrary it showed depth, a story- more than meets the eye. He wasn’t just an aging hippy teaching a bunch of ungrateful kids. This man had a life, hopes, fears, dreams. The outbursts were breadcrumbs leading the inquisitive on down the path of human experience just as the eruptions of pain and confusion I encountered this past year, were breadcrumbs leading me deeper into the mystery of my deteriorating health.
By following the trail, patterns began to emerge; both with my health and the life of my professor. Allowing a patience to settle over me- I am able to see more clearly into the patterns of detail. By pausing and stepping back, becoming the witness, I can see the forest through the trees, blossoming with awareness.
The shifting moods, subtle yet complex, were easily noticed by anyone paying attention. My professor suffered from bouts of depression and anxiety. The outbursts were his coping mechanisms when not wanting to take meds; a full release of energy- and a prompt return to normal.
Was there a clue here for me? My confusion, tremors and other symptoms had to be breadcrumbs leading me to the path of healing. I only needed the patience to persevere and not play the victim to my heath. With the belief firmly established that healing begins within, I used these random outbursts of bizarre symptoms to discover the patterns.
If the pattern of trees makes a forest then my pattern of symptoms would lead to a diagnosis. So like any good geologist, I got out my field notebook and began sketching out the layers of life that were impacting or being impacted by my symptoms.
It’s amazing that it takes catastrophe to look at the stratigraphy of our lives . Where is the fault? Where have we allowed the pressure to build to the breaking point. Where can we find small moments of release as to not completely shake loose our moorings later?
These insights along the rocky shore of healing has led me towards deeper inner wisdom and a softening of spirit. Patience, it seems, has been born of cleaving layers of sediment crashing through me. What else can you do with tremors, but ride them out, knowing this too shall pass and calm will be restored once again.
And in the calm lies stillness and elucidation; for from the pressure of living comes forth the diamond clarity of truth – all of life is an ebb and flow of pain, joy, suffering and love; leaving traces of each story to become fossilized in memory.
And in the calm, what I discovered classifying my pain and suffering was a pattern of excess and scarcity. It is between these two extremes a balance can be found. Overdoing it, taking on too much leads me down a path of deterioration. Doing too little leads to stagnation and eventually down the same path of deterioration.
However when conditions hover in the sweet spot between the two extremes; this yields a slow yet steady pace, allowing for the unexpected & reveling in its mystique. Set backs are no longer boulders blocking my way, but a chance to meander creatively around my inner space getting a fresh view, creating new neural pathways.
When we can witness our story, layer built upon layer, lessons and meaning emerge from the patterns. We can learn from our past, adjusting our patterns to create a path of fertile soil which holds within it the sediment of our memory, allowing for new growth and experience to ripple through our lives.
Wishing you a peaceful 2023.
What if we were able to view our struggles as Grace?
I know that might seem like a crazy question to ask. You may be thinking “How could she ask me to look at my struggles my pain, my suffering as grace?”
…and 15 years ago, I would have agreed with you.
My perspective has shifted. It did not happen overnight but through a process shedding the ideas, beliefs and constructs I had learned to believe about who I actually am.
From where I’m standing now I can look back at every perceived struggle, every bit of pain and suffering; whether it was spiritual, physical or mental, and see it has been Grace. Every decision I’ve made for good or ill has led me down the path my soul required I walk in order to learn the lessons needed in this lifetime; to live with an open heart and not one filled with fear.
When I release the need to view my struggles through the eyes of victim-hood, and instead, the through the eyes of a student being guided by a master teacher, I am better able to release my attachment to outcomes and remove my expectations from situations of which I have no control over; moving through my days in a state of flow, not constriction.
In doing this, I am also better able to forgive others. When we forgive ourselves for misguided judgment it becomes easier to forgive others. We learn that we are not perfect and neither is anyone else. We are each learning day by day, moment by moment, breath by breath.
I am not the person I was yesterday. You are not the same person you were last week . Each new choice opens us to the pure potentiality of our experience.
We begin to hold ourselves and others to a standard of GRACE, not perfection.
I wasn’t necessarily planning on participating in nanowrimo this year. I didn’t want to put myself through the stress of coming up with an idea and all the things that go into planning, writing, finishing 50k words in 30 days.
So with nanowrimo off my mind for most of the summer, I had begun kicking around an idea for a short story, taking some notes, sketching out ideas, but I forgot about it sometime around the end of august.
As September rolled along I was focused on content creation, my dog, new guided meditations, family, and feeding squirrels. On one of my many squirrel feeding expeditions I happened to walk a route I hadn’t taken in a while. I meandered on the side walk looking into the vacant lot for the sandpiper who nested there, stopped to watch a bee on a cornflower, and stumbled upon a memory.
I was walking the same sidewalk a few years before and I had been noting how cracked the sidewalk was and an idea for a story bloomed in my mind. Unfortunately, I was never able to expand the idea enough to begin writing.
That moment in late September, when I noticed the cracks on the sidewalk, stopped me in my tracks. I could clearly see how these stories, these ideas were waiting for each other. One born in the future, waiting patiently for the past to catch up in order for the whole story to be told.
Stories want to be told. They are always searching for their voice, for the instrument of their telling.
Since this story to must be told, I am poised to begin nanowrimo for the first time in 2 years. I completed it once in 2019 as I was very prepared. I feel just as prepared now, yet more at ease. I’ve written 50k words in 30 days before so no big deal doing it again.(right??)
Perhaps this will yield a strong flow – being at ease, calm; allowing the words to flow thorough me. Allowing myself to have fun with the creative process instead of worrying about word count or deadlines.
I guess we will see how prepared I am a month from now as the first week of NANOWRiMO comes to a close. As for now, I will continue prepping with these little bursts of creative flow.
Keep Calm & Write on!
Find Pleasure in the Simple Things
By 𝘴𝘪𝘮𝘱𝘭𝘦, I mean natural. We are inherently surrounded by elegant simplicity. The delicate fold of a new leaf unfurling; the gentle decent of that same leaf, months later, as it is released by the steadfast deciduous of its birth.
We now live in an unnatural world of concrete and plastic; imitation flora decorating the interior landscape of our homes and offices; completely removed form the 𝘮𝘦𝘴𝘴𝘺 parts of actual life such as the slaughter of meat for constant consumption.
Would you eat meat if you had to kill and dress it yourself? I wouldn’t. So I don’t eat meat.
Our modern trappings have so removed from being able to actually take pleasure in simplicity.
Go outside today. Learn the names of the tress in your immediate space, smell a wildflower as it struggles for sunlight through a crack in the concrete jungle.
What wonders can be found just outside your doorstep, waiting to be cherished for the integral part of existence that it quietly is?