Daily Om Thursday 


Control: Letting The Curves Take You

Trying to maintain control in this life is a bit like trying to maintain control on a roller coaster. The ride has its own logic and is going to go its own way, regardless of how tightly you grip the bar. There is a thrill and a power in simply surrendering to the ride and fully feeling the ups and downs of it, letting the curves take you rather than fighting them. When you fight the ride, resisting what’s happening at every turn, your whole being becomes tense and anxiety is your close companion. When you go with the ride, accepting what you cannot control, freedom and joy will inevitably arise.

As with so many seemingly simple things in life, it is not always easy to let go, even of the things we know we can’t control. Most of us feel a great discomfort with the givens of this life, one of which is the fact that much of the time we have no control over what happens. Sometimes this awareness comes only when we have a stark encounter with this fact, and all our attempts to be in control are revealed to be unnecessary burdens. We can also cultivate this awareness in ourselves gently, by simply making surrender a daily practice. At the end of our meditation, we might bow, saying, “I surrender to this life.” This simple mantra can be repeated as necessary throughout the day, when we find ourselves metaphorically gripping the safety bar.

We can give in to our fear and anxiety, or we can surrender to this great mystery with courage. When we see people on a roller coaster, we see that there are those with their faces tight with fear and then there are those that smile broadly, with their hands in the air, carried through the ride on a wave of freedom and joy. This powerful image reminds us that often the only control we have is choosing how we are going to respond to the ride. ~Madyson Taylor, Daily Om

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From the moment we wake up, we are faced with choices. Some, like whether to brush our teeth or what’s for breakfast, are no-brainers, and, for most of us, do not arouse any fear or anxiety. One after another, we choose between options without raising the specter of control. Wouldn’t it be a joy if all of life choices were so easy?

Inevitably, a choice arises that may be a life changer. Be it, whether to end a long-term relationship that you’ve outgrown, or to leave a job that you abhor, to begin that career you’ve always dreamed of, the choice renders us unable to decide. Often fear of the unknown is the impediment, and we are under the mistaken belief that our task is to make the better of the two choices. In other words, we are trying to control the outcome. Unfortunately, in many cases, either choice has its risks and benefits and the unknown is the governing factor. No amount of lists or mind mapping is going to change those facts. 

Trying to maintain control is like trying to grasp the wind in our hands. It is a futile effort that is only likely to bring unwanted frustration, suffering and pain. Our innate nature is to go with the flow, surrendering to what will be. Even a small child, tries to wrestle away when their parents try to exercise control over them. As we grow older, life fools us into thinking that we have control, until the unexpected happens and we are hit with the realization that our sense of control was only illusory.

We are not subjects in a scientific experiment in which each facet of our lives is a controlled factor. In reality, our lives, our choices are unbound mysteries that cannot be harnessed. In spite of our attempts to plan for any eventuality, life will most certainly remind us that at its core, it is uncertain and filled with surprise. What are we to do?

The other option is to surrender. It is a word that goes against our need for control. It requires letting go of our need for certainty, and to embrace vulnerability. Opening ourselves to the state of being vulnerable takes courage, because it removes any illusion of control. Instead, we grow to let go of the “need to know,” in favor of allowing life to unfold before us, with all of its magic and unforeseen opportunities. With this said, there are instances when the choice may require thought, planning and deliberation, yet, the outcome is the same — unknown. Risk permeates all of our choices, and acknowledging those risks, makes life that much easier to accept.

So, when faced with a difficult choice, do your homework, and instead of following your thinking mind, listen to your heart. Undoubtedly, the unknown is scary, but in spite of the ever-present risks, knowing that you made a choice that aligns with your highest, true self, brings a sense of relief, and whatever the outcome, you have the strength to face it.

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Here’s To Making Magic And Mistakes in 2014

Fireworks

Fireworks (Photo credit: bayasaa)

It is a new year and there must be something that I want to say about it. In this post, I already disclosed that my word for 2014 is ‘courage,’ and believe me, there is much to say about that in future posts. A Facebook friend posted a quote about the New Year written by Neil Gaiman. Initially, I thought it perfect, but still I hesitated to use it in this post. Lest there be any misunderstanding, I love the quote. In fact, here it is:

May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some find books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful. And don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or create or sing or live as only you can. And, I hope somewhere in the next year you surprise yourself.

As you can see for yourself, it is an inspiring and uplifting quote. I particularly like the first sentence, especially the reference to ‘good madness.’ Generally, one thinks of madness as a negative or undesirable state of being; such as, “That woman is mad,” which is a less offensive way of saying, “That woman has lost her f***ing mind!” When I think of the phrase ‘good madness,’ I think of one taking affirmative steps to let go, have fun, engage in raucous laughter, and to live fully and happily.

I suppose that I should add that in my mind, all New Year wishes and offerings are, in actuality, blessings pure and simple. When one blesses you, as the Oxford dictionary confirms, they may intend to invoke “a prayer asking for God’s favor or protection.” On the other hand, the word ‘blessing’ is also defined as “a beneficial thing for which one is grateful; something that brings well-being….” A sincere well-wisher is expressing in mere words, a gift of his or her’s desire that you experience the very best that life has to offer.

Anyway, I went to Neil Gaiman’s website curious to see what I would find. After wandering to and fro, I discovered a ‘blessing‘ that I identify with and offer to you for the New Year. It is:

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.” ~ Neil Gaiman

Much like the phrase “good madness,” “making mistakes” is a call to action. The opposite of action is inaction and although it ensures a lack of risk and, I suppose one can argue, a sense of security, it does not allow for growth or the opportunity to engage in our lives. Personally, I think that it offers a lifeless and boring existence, lacking happiness or excitement.

Life provides us a series of choices and decisions. Which path do I choose?  Which job do I take? Is this the man or woman of my dreams? Don’t search for certainty where there is none to be found. There is no certainty in any decision that we make. In fact, there is a 50/50 chance that the choice that you make is right, and an equal chance that it is a big, fat mistake. Such is life.

The answer is not to shield ourselves from our ‘mistakes’ by refusing to act. The very act of choosing is life affirming, and it is a fact of life that some of our choices will be mistakes. The thing is that mistakes are the stuff of life that, if responded to properly, offer opportunities for growth and inner wisdom. They offer life lessons that certainty will never offer. It takes courage to act in the face of uncertainty. Just do it and prepare for a rich and exciting New Year filled with abundant blessings. I’ll toast to that!

Blessings, Lydia

All will be well. ~St. Julian of Norwich

What Ifs

Question Mark Graffiti

Question Mark Graffiti (Photo credit: Bilal Kamoon)

It is cold, rainy and wintry, by Central Texas standards, and the absence of sun seems ripe for contemplation. Although I try not to let it happen, today turned into a “what if” day. Don’t you hate those days. What if, I done this differently? What if, I done that differently? What if, I’d stayed in New Orleans all those long years ago, instead of moving to Texas? What would my life be like? What if, I listened to all those people who told me that my life was over when I made the foolish mistake of becoming a teen aged mother? What if, I believed that I was destined to be yet another statistic and on the public dole with no education or skills to take care of myself or my children?  I’ve concluded that engaging in these “what ifs” comes down to questioning ourselves and our past choices, a yearning for ‘the road not taken.’ 
 
Recently, I was reading bits and pieces of my twitter stream and someone referred to the phrase “the road less travelled,” which is often used in reference to Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken.” As I recall, I read the poem for the first time in an high school English class. http://www.bartleby.com/119/1.html At the time, the wannabe rebel in me, wanting to set her own path and follow no one, assumed that, Frost was advising that, when faced with two forks in the road, one trodden by the masses and the other, not so, to take the road less traveled. I was wrong because in both stanzas two and three Frost asserts little difference between the roads.
He writes,
“Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.
… And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black”

I think that it is the final paragraph that informs us of the true meaning of the poem:

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
 
Frost’s use of the words “I shall be telling this with a sigh” indicates a sense of regret and wonder about the choice he made so long ago. In hindsight, even he wonders how his life would differ had he chosen to trod the other road. Although even amongst scholars, the poem’s interpretation is in dispute, I believe the poem is about choice in general, hindsight and especially, regret wrought by a choice between those equally appealing options.  
 
Our life is but a series of blind choices. This applies to every decision in our lives–one choice, means the exclusion of another choice. Mom was right, you really can’t have it both ways. We make our choices based on blind faith and without fore knowledge of where the choice will lead us. In most cases, the choices are easy. In others, when we are forced to chose between equally compelling options, the choice is far from clear. Instead of resorting to “what ifs,” after determining the pros and cons of each choice, and the information at hand, we choose; then we pray for the best or release it to our God/Spirit/Source, for that is the most that we can do. In choosing, we necessarily reject options that only the fates know where they would lead and minimize the “what ifs” that will lead you no where. We chose, we live and time will tell. 
 

Friendship & Unfinished Business

Friends are stronger than darknessImage by Gilderic (OFF) via Flickr

















Today “Wisdom a la Carte,” whom I heartily recommend for his presence on FaceBook, Twitter and his blog, http://wisdomalacarte.net/blog/, posed one of his usual great questions on his Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/wisdomalacarte. It was “have you been the kind of friend that you want as a friend?” I commented as follows:

Not since I have been sick. For many reasons, I withdrew from my friends, because I thought that I was protecting them. In hindsight, I regret it. I would not have been able to (still can’t) provide a balanced relationship, but especially when you are really ill, you need their friendship–if only for connection with the real world. Blessings.



Afterwards, I couldn’t get the question out of my mind. It was like a itch that I just couldn’t reach. and it suddenly dawned on me that I had some unfinished business. 


Before I was really sick, I think that, for the most part, I was all that I’d want in a friend.  When I became really ill, I changed, and I guess that changed as well.  For a multitude of reasons, I totally withdrew from my friends, because I thought that I was protecting them and was doing the right thing. I was in so much mental, emotional and physical pain that I did not want to subject anyone to that part of me. So, I choose to go into isolation–for years. In hindsight, I regret the decision, not only because I needed my friends, but at a much deeper level I think because I didn’t trust my friends enough to choose for themselves. They never had an opportunity to see the bad and the ugly because I made the choice for them.  Perhaps my decision was less about them than about my own fears that if they saw me at my worse that they would run like hell and no longer love me. Whatever their reaction, I should have allowed them to choose for themselves. I should have remembered that as the photo reminds me, true friends are stronger than darkness. I trust that they will forgive my lapse in judgment. I think that they will. Blessings.
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