Awakening

In golf, players who are progressing through the game at a swifter pace will sometimes be allowed to “play through” or pass slower golfers ahead of them on the course.

I’m not a golfer. But I am a deeply spiritual being. So I want to explain what I mean by “playing through” in the context of this blog. Many who seek answers to the deeper questions or who want a religious element in their lives choose to follow spiritual teachings set out by those who came before. That’s their choice, and I respect it.  My own spirituality, on the other hand, doesn’t fit any standard formula that I know of. It’s constantly evolving. I learn and grow at my own pace without feeling a need for instruction from books or priests or gurus. I make my own path.

I’m playing through.

This past year has been difficult for me. The personal life I’d so carefully and lovingly built for over 33 years fell irrevocably apart. The first few months after the crash are a blur. Only isolated, disconnected memories from those days linger amid the rubble of the rest of my life. For a while I was a real mess.

Instead of falling back on my faith, though, I pushed it away. I didn’t want to think beyond the next minute. It was all I could do to put one foot in front of the other. I struggled to find reasons to get out of bed in the morning and to cope with the absolute fundamentals. Wake up. Go to work. Come home. Sleep. Repeat as necessary. Eat when you’re hungry. Feed the cat. Don’t forget the cat.

Looking back, I don’t think I believed for a minute that any divine being was “punishing me” for anything. However, I do believe things happen for a reason, so apparently something in this painful experience will benefit me in some way I cannot yet fathom. The Messiah’s Handbook in Richard Bach’s Illusions  (www.barefootsworld.net/illusions.html) says “There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hands. You seek problems because you need their gifts.”

Now my somewhat sensible conscious mind says I would never have knowingly chosen to go through this particular dark night of the soul regardless of the rewards. I’m not sure what I did or which turn I took that led me to seek the gifts inherent in this particular set of problems; I’m sure they’ll one day manifest, but at this time I’m in the dark as to their nature.

Nevertheless I have no doubt I brought this on myself. See, I think it works like this. The Divine puts things in your path that you need to learn, or experience, or do. If you ignore the thing or walk around it or put it off, the Divine will whisper in your ear.

Hey … you really should do this thing.

If you still ignore the message, you might — might — get a tap on the shoulder. If even that doesn’t work, you get the clue-by-four. You know, the one that swings in from out of the blue to knock you out of your comfort zone and smack dab into the middle of a major crisis you can no longer ignore. No more chances to wake up gently or make the change slowly. The clue bat just whacks you upside the head and suddenly everything is different. Remember when your mom would threaten to slap you into the middle of next week? Yeah, it’s like that.

Years ago, I saw a greeting card that fits this scenario. On the front was a 3D-ish maze that was so large it completely filled the image and ran off the sides so that you couldn’t see a clear path in any direction. In the center was a little man looking up at the card-holder with an expression of utter bewilderment on his poor face. Inside the card was a very deep, yet simple message.

“Sometimes the only way out is through.”

I’ve thought of that card over and over in the last year, except in my mind’s eye I’m in the middle of the maze. After the initial shock, I spent a lot of time asking myself why — why me, why now, why this way? The answers to such mundane queries are pointless. It did happen. I am where I am. It is what it is. Asking why only left me anguished and frustrated, so I tried to put it out of my mind, suck it up and deal.

I don’t remember what prompted me to do so, but one day I asked those same questions of Spirit. Suddenly, the answers became very relevant. Instead of being a victim, I became a student. I was no longer helpless. I was a scientist, examining a failed experiment with an eye to avoiding the same mistakes in the future. Spirit didn’t show these things to me. She only waited patiently for me to see for myself what had been there all along.

I’m still in the maze. The drama that upset my applecart hasn’t concluded. My road may still be long and full of shadow, but it helps to once again see the spiritual current running through every detail.  At least I’m moving forward again. And that can’t be a bad thing.

Drema Deòraich (from September, 2013)

Choices

I sometimes envy people who have had that “Aha!” moment which inspires the words, “This is what I was born for!” To have that certainty, that conviction, that gut-deep knowing that you have found your true purpose must be profoundly and life-alteringly fulfilling! It would, of necessity, focus you, give you “permission” to dismiss all other pursuits as irrelevant. You can finally, without hesitation or reserve, give yourself over completely to the joy, the love of your calling.

There have been those persons in our world history who seem to have had such clarity of purpose in their lives: Beethoven, Michaelangelo, Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, Jane Goodall, Stephen Hawking — all are considered masters in their respective works, and with good reason. Each found his or her place in the world where they were most effective, where they shone brightest.

But all that glitters is not gold, and finding that sweet spot doesn’t guarantee happiness. Beethoven lost his hearing and had multiple romantic difficulties. Goodall’s methods of research were frequently called into question. Michelangelo was constantly dissatisfied with himself, and suffered from melancholy. Mandela spent many years in prison.

Then, again, I wonder — is the focus of such a “true calling” ultimately limiting? Would it cause you to cease all other exploration, all questions external to itself? Would outside interests wither on the vine, as it were? Does such concentration shrink the borders of your world? If so, is it possible to find an in-between point where you still feel the conviction of your purpose and take profound joy in it, but do not close the door to all other avenues of discovery?

I believe that the state of mind can be attained wherein you can continue your focus on your calling, even follow it to the point of excellence, but not to the exclusion of other activities; from this centered point, you can more easily discriminate between those outside pursuits which are merely distraction, and those which harbor golden nuggets of genuine awareness, growth, enlightenment or expansion of thought. I suspect the dimensions of this peak are slight and difficult to sense. Thus you are unlikely to stumble upon its sanctuary. Instead, it must be actively sought and, once attained, used carefully, purposefully and mindfully, as one would utilize and maintain any gift of rare and precious delicacy.

It seems that we alone, of all the animals on Earth, are burdened with the search for meaning. And not even all humans, perhaps regrettably, are thus charged. Many, maybe the vast majority of us go through our lives never wondering why we are here, or what purpose we might be meant to serve. And sometimes — just sometimes — I envy them too.

Usually not, though.

For my own part, I cannot imagine an existence where meaning is … meaningless. Ergo, I continue the search for that true calling, and for the pinnacle of balance between it and all the unanswered questions that await.

— Drema Deòraich (from August, 2009)

Blink Blink

You know, it just doesn’t seem like it should be a new year. Again. Didn’t we just have one of those last week? I swear, with every passing year the time seems to scream by with increasing speed. Remember when we were kids and an afternoon seemed to last an eternity? Nowadays, it is gone in the blink of an eye.

And isn’t that just scary as hell? Because, if you think about it, we blink our eyes a lot. A lot. Blink – another week past. Blink – another starry night sky ignored. Blink – another opportunity to build a snow fort with your kids lost. Blink – another chance to say “I love you” gone. Blink … blink … blink. We don’t get it back. Ever.

Think about this. There are 8,760 hours in one year. If you work 40 hours per week, sleep 8 hours per day, commute 1 hour each way to work, spend 3.5 hours preparing and eating meals each day, and an average of 27 hours per week on laundry, grocery shopping (and storing), cleaning, showering/dressing and other assorted tasks you do regularly, that leaves you only 559 hours free every year. That breaks down to about an hour and a half each day to do with as you please. And that’s only the average things that most of us do; it doesn’t count the other tasks that find their way into our schedules. Blink, blink, blink.

Gurdjieff taught that most people are basically asleep at the wheel, so to speak. They don’t notice what is going on around them because they are lulled by the regular rhythm of everyday mindless tasks, and the stupor of living up (or down) to others’ expectations. We all know the sensation of driving along, suddenly becoming aware of the fact that we have no recollection of the last 10 miles of road. Where were we?

On the other hand, we also know the excitement of anticipation when we are engaged in or about to begin some task or activity that is truly meaningful or enjoyable to us. That’s when we’re really awake.

The question is this: would we rather sleep our time away? or would we rather be awake, alive and excited about the next moment?

Granted, there are some things that can’t be escaped. We must eat. We must sleep. We must clean and care for ourselves and our surroundings. But how much of our time is spent satisfying the expectations of others? And how does it compare to that spent doing what is most meaningful and fulfilling to us as individuals?

We all have a limited amount of time in this life to do what we came here to do. Those hours we waste will not be regained, nor will some opportunities reappear if we pass them by. If we sincerely wish to gain spiritual development and growth, we must recognize what it is we should be doing with our time, and spend that precious resource wisely.

Drema Deòraich (from January 2005)