“Satori is a moment of Presence, a brief stepping out of the voice in your head, the thought processes, and their reflection in the body as emotion. It is the arising of inner spaciousness where before there was the clutter of thought and the turmoil of emotion."
Eckhart Tolle – A New Earth
My sister, Joey, is here visiting and, as always, brings peace to my troubled waters. I don’t mean to suggest that I am always unhappy but if I am honest with myself, despite my abundance of great fortune (relatively speaking), I have found in my life a reason to be unhappy under many given circumstances.
On the melancholy menu this week:
- My husband has been unemployed for six months;
- We have no financial security;
- My career is in the shitter;
- I am 20 lbs overweight;
- I have taken on a part time job in customer service at the age of 35 because my husband is unemployed, we need the money and there are no big gigs on my plate because I am 20lbs overweight thus making it even more difficult to get cast on camera than it normally is, hence the reason my career is in the shitter… And by the by, my breasts are too small.
See how that works? Once I find one reason to be unhappy then so many others pop up and tend to fortify the preceding ones until I have concocted a meal made up of so many sad morsels. I become a Debbie Downer. But there is a part of me that feels that not getting what I REALLY want is so inherently unfair that I become furious at everything that hasn’t gone my way: Why do we always have money troubles? Why can’t I have a lead role in a series already? Why can’t I get my short film made? Why can’t I be thin with a gorgeous B cup? I’m not asking to break the bank here. I would just like a small handful. Is that too much to ask? I am angry and bitchy and generally unpleasant. Fuck, fuck, fuckitty fuck.
Then just as I rage into an inner hurricane of wrath which threatens to rip through any peaceful, happy moment that might surface in my day, a Satori arrives from an unexpected source and it stops me alive in my tracks. It’s a Mack truck of enlightenment that thrusts itself so mightily up through my despair and self-destruction that it allows me to see things differently, peacefully - the way they are meant to be seen. It is a merciful gift from the heavens offering a little perspective and if it had a sense of humor it might say, “Try not giving a fuck”.
My Satori came yesterday in the form of a beautiful letter from someone I love, written to someone else I love, which was shared with me and it literally left me in tears. In the letter, and in the face of everything my friend is struggling with these days, he described his willingness to surrender control – to let go of madly trying to control everything he perceived as being troublesome in his life. In the spirit of serenity, he lovingly announced that he was simply going to allow things to unfold as they may and “lay down his shield”. His words caught the lump in my throat and softened me from out of nowhere.
And in that moment, I took a look at the positive people in my life and I realized the difference between them and me (or the me when I am negative). When circumstances pop up for them that are less than desirable, they find a way to accept them, dance along to the new tune being played and trust that the music will change and move them forward to a new, more pleasing melody. When this happens for me, and a song comes along that I HATE, I raise my sword and do battle with life. I attack and rail with this heavy armour of mine and fight against the Universe, God and Fate for making such a mess of things for me. I let the monkey I’ve been carrying on my weary shoulders scratch away at the back of my neck as it spits and lashes out at anyone who will listen about just how bad my life is now, how bad it has been before and surely, based on everything that is wrong in my life, how bad it will continue to be.
But when I read my friend’s words yesterday, a pocket of peace opened up in my head and it sailed so gracefully to my heart in a clear rhythm that had eluded me until then that I was able to finally feel a connection to my true self. Not the ugly me or the pathetic me, as I have tried to label myself so many times, but the me that is pure and beautiful and worthy of joy.
There is something so powerful about surrendering control. I truly believe that my soul just gets that. My soul knows that whenever I let go and let God, I slide into the flow of life and revel in the simple, yet beautiful joys that are awaiting my footsteps. But for some reason, even though I’ve surrendered before, I forget that it’s ok to surrender again. I’m like a woman who has forgotten the agony of childbirth and chooses to deliver another time not realizing the pain that is in store in order to birth a baby. But in this case, all I can think about is the pain. I agonize about it. Obsess over it. This always happens before I fully let go and attempt to deliver myself into some quiet moments, in which I get to walk hand in hand with life, trusting that what It has in store for me is just right and in perfect alignment with every dream and desire I have for myself. I forget that I don’t actually need to struggle but that rather to let go means to truly hold the hand of God and walk along this path I am on. I will be ok. I will be taken care of. It’s safe to trust. To fully let go and trust is a lesson I have to keep re-learning over and over again.
I know I am on the cusp of understanding it when the weeping comes in the presence of a Satori. The tears are ones of release and they wash away my foggy lens so that I can see, even if for a brief moment, that life is actually on my side. My weary self has had enough of all the turmoil I have created and I am ready to create something else, something better. I am ready to “lay down the shield”, or in my case the sword I have been using against myself to procreate so much misery in the place of the utter delight that is naturally wanting to manifest itself for me.
“One day, I’ll find relief. I’ll be arrived and I’ll be a friend to my friends who know how to be friends.
One day, I’ll be at peace. I’ll be enlightened and I’ll be married with children and maybe adopt.
One day, I WILL BE HEALED. I will gather my wounds forge the end of tragic comedy.
I have been running so sweaty my whole life. Urgent for a finish line.
And I have been missing the rapture this whole time.
Or being forever incomplete...”
These are the lyrics to an Alanis Morissette song called “Incomplete” and it has been another revelation for me. It is such a lovely piece of peace and when I watched her perform it live on TV one day, I felt calmed. It was so beautiful to see her share her art with the world as she gently set her armour down and opened her heart to let us see inside, past some of the experiences that have caused her pain recently, and into the music that tells us it’s all going to be ok - that there is still hope that one day all will truly be well.
Yet, I am beginning to wonder why I think that that day always has to be at some point in the future? And this is what the song asks me to consider also.
I began to crack open to this query this morning as I sat on my husband’s lap and buried my face into his shoulder – so strong and supportive and so completely there for me even though he is experiencing some pretty stressful stuff himself these days. I admitted to him that I am suddenly so very tired of missing out on my life. There is so much good that is happening right in front of me. Yes, there is crap. Yes, there are some unwanted circumstances upon us. But I have decided that because I have a tendency to find fault with myself no matter how good or bad things may be that I cannot waste another moment missing out on my own much deserved happiness. It is my birthright to revel in delight for crying out loud, right?! So why must I deny myself what is rightfully mine to enjoy?
I am reminded of the words of Randy Pausch, the university professor who, prior to his death of pancreatic cancer, delivered “The Last Lecture” and in so doing captured the world’s attention. His quest was to leave a living manual of sorts for his children knowing full well that he would not live to see them grow up and that they would be left without a father to look to for instructions in life.
I bought his book recently and look to the gems within for instructions in my own life. I devoured it quickly after I picked it up and every night before bed, I close my eyes and flip to a page that wants to show me what I need to know before falling asleep for the night. The other day, I opened to a page where the following words jumped out at me: “No matter how bad things are, you can always make them worse. At the same time, it is often within your power to make them better.” It was exactly what I needed to hear in that moment. And I am still absorbing the full meaning of this passage days later as I take a look at some of the unhelpful habits I have turned to over and over again in trying times. I have spent a good deal of my life making things that do not go my way worse for myself and for everyone around me in an attempt to scratch and claw my way to a phantom outcome, which always seems to be just out of my grasp until it flies so far out of reach and then finally disappears off the horizon.
“I have been running so sweaty my whole life - Urgent for a finish line. And I have been missing the rapture this whole time...”
How much of my life will I allow myself to miss? Randy Pausch soaked up every last ounce of the time he had left and let the world soak it up with him. I have been presented with so many reminders that our days on Earth are numbered and precious. Painful reminders, which came to me most notably after my Mom’s sudden death. But isn’t it possible to enjoy all this fleeting time without the shock of losing a loved one to jolt us back to the present moment?
I am learning that it’s only possible if I choose it to be so.
“One day, my mind will retreat, and I’ll know God and I’ll be constantly one with Her night dusk and day.
One day I’ll be secure, like the women I see on their 30th anniversaries.
One day I will be faith-filled;
I’ll be trusting and spacious authentic and grounded and whole.”
I think that day is today.
My mind’s eye has opened up a new lens for me and I am choosing to see things a little differently now. I am eager to shed the layers of self defeat. I am willing to let go of my wrath and be gentler with myself. I don’t know where the finish line is but right now, I’m just too tired of the race. I’m going to spend some time in stillness for a while. I like it there. I like it here.
My sister, with all her wisdom, insight, laughter and tranquility has given me a brief holiday. She is my great Satori. And I don’t want to miss a minute of it.
(If you’d like to watch Alanis Morissette sing the song, check out the link below. The lyrics are there as well and they are lovely as can be. Click Here )