Beginnings and Endings

“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” – Alexander Graham Bell

It’s true. We humans are funny creatures.

Every ending is also a beginning. And yet…

Sometimes it’s hard to move forward. Of course, sometimes it helps to realize that by refusing to move forward we are choosing to be dragged kicking and screaming.

Change is inevitable. But how much we suffer the changes of life has to do with the degree to which we hold on, to which we try to avoid and deny the inevitable.

That people we love will grow old, and die. That we ourselves will.

That everything is precious.

And sometimes we don’t have as much time as we’d like to think we have, to do the things we want to do.

And I suppose we could let the fear of death, and the gravity of the whole situation immobilize us.

And that itself is a choice.

But if we can use it, if we can embrace the gravity and the fear in a transformational sense, if it can become a catalyst for making the most of the time that we have, then….well, then we might create something really beautiful.

“Wherever you go, there you are.”

It’s true. There’s no getting away from yourself. You can go to the ends of the earth, but you can’t outrun your own fears, insecurities, or vulnerabilities. It doesn’t matter how much money you have, or how good your security system is, or how well-insured you are.

Sometimes it’s tempting to change things up. You may feel that moving to a new town, or getting a new job will change your life in a way that’s meaningful. While this might be the case, often the sense that life will be better following an external change is simply a reflection of an internal longing. And this seems to be particularly the case when it comes to moving away.

Personally speaking, in my various moving experiences over the years I found that whatever problems or issues I was experiencing in one location simply re-appeared in another. Sometimes they never disappeared at all.

Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t make changes in your external life. By all means, if something’s not working for you, take steps to change it. At the same time, it’s important to realize that real change comes from within. And that much of what you see outside of you is a reflection of what’s inside of you.

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Wayne Dyer

Recommended reading: Kabat-Zinn, John. Wherever you go, there you are.

On Letting Go, Part II

(See part one of this entry.)

Let’s face it: Change can be hard. But sometimes, we make it harder than it needs to be by holding on. Whether we’re holding on to a person, a job, a house, or other situation in our lives, by investing in maintaining what is, we are refusing to allow what will be to take shape. For example, by holding on to a relationship that doesn’t work, we deny ourselves the opportunity to meet the right partner.

Often the motivation to maintain the status quo in a circumstance in our lives stems from the fear that, if we let what we have go, we will have nothing. We will lose.

But in order to grow, we must first create a space, an opening, for something more, something or someone who will be a better fit. And in that space is an opportunity for healing, for clarity, and for intentionality in manifesting the next experience.

Recommended reading: Letting Go of Attachment, From A to Zen

Living with Uncertainty

There are very few certainties in life. When I was a kid, my dad was fond of saying, “Nothing is certain but death and taxes.” I always thought this was incredibly funny at the time. Now, I realize he was right. (Though some people manage to avoid both for quite some time.)

Uncertainty, ambiguity, and change are a big part of life experience. And yet, many of us spend a great deal of time acting as if that is not the case. Working very hard to create a sense of permanence and security which is elusive, illusory, and transitory.

The most that we can really hope to do is to create the illusion of certainty, a false sense of permanence.

Creating the illusion of permanence is like building castles in the sand. It definitely will take up a lot of time and energy. And you might build something very impressive. But ultimately if you get too attached to everything staying like it is, you will be very disappointed.

One major symptom of this type of activity is fear. Lots and lots of fear. I’ve watched people I know create virtual fortresses in their lives, trying to protect themselves from change. What really happens is that their lives get smaller, and smaller, as they try to control each and every aspect.

I’ve seen myself do this too. I think the prescription for this is the realization that the true sense of safety resides inside of us, rather than outside of us, in our external circumstances.

Understanding that concept intellectually is one thing. But living that truth is a lifelong practice.

Photo by Virginia Olson © 2012

Love in Disguise?

“People should worry about each other. Because worry is just love in its worst form. But it’s still love.” – Simon Gray

As a follow up to my previous entry on worry, I found this quote, which I read in a magazine years ago. I remember reading it over and over, thinking about it for a long time. I couldn’t decide whether I agreed with him or not. I think worry is something misguided people do to show their love. But does that mean worry is love?

Someone told me recently, “Cruelty is the closest thing to love.” I was truly stunned. My first inclination was to disagree vehemently. But I had to consider it further. Maybe it’s true that some things are close to love, but not love exactly. I have an easier time believing that worry is close to love. But cruelty?

I think the difficulty in determining whether or not worry and cruelty are at all equivalent to love is related to the difficulty people have in defining love. (See The Power of Love for more on this topic, and for a discussion of David Hawkins’ scale of consciousness.)

If love is an energy (or an action that carries an energy), is the energy of worry (or cruelty, for that matter) on the same level as that of love? Hawkins would answer with a resounding no on both counts. Worry calibrates close to fear, and cruelty would be close to anger. Both are well below the love vibration.

So if love is an energy, then the energy of love is much different from the energy of worry. A Course in Miracles says the opposite of love is fear. On the other hand, if love is an action, does cruelty in some way demonstrate love? It takes energy to be cruel (just as it takes energy to worry). To be cruel means to be calculating. Maybe by that token the opposite of love is not fear, or even hatred, but rather indifference.

It’s only if love is a “feeling” that we can say that worry or cruelty might be a little bit close to love. If love is a feeling that we get caught up in, a feeling that we’re powerless to control, then we might behave in ways that are cruel.

For the sake of argument, let’s say that love is a feeling. Are we powerless in the face of our feelings? Simply under their control? If so, we’re little better than a two year old throwing a temper tantrum.

One of the benefits of meditation (and spiritual practice in general) is that it tends to move people from a state of reaction to a state of contemplation. In other words, it allows us to live in the gap. In the gap, we can make choices about who we want to be in the world. This means that it’s possible to choose words and actions that reflect our true values and priorities. It also means that we can choose how to direct our energy.

If we choose to direct our energy and intent toward being love in action then worry and cruelty will have no home in the same neighborhood as love.