Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Behind The Blue Door


~ My Whidbey Island Adventure ~

Part I: The Magic Portal

After fantasizing most of my life about running off to a 'deserted island', I finally did it! I ran away to the land of my dreams. Originally, this was my mother's fantasy, but I became infected with it as well.

So how was it? Well, for starters it wasn't deserted at all: it overflowed with life!


On the Island, behind The Blue Door, a sacred abode awaited me. This adorable room held a secret that had been well hidden before my arrival. The Blue Door wasn't what it seemed. I would not discover this, however, until long after my return home.



I was so excited about this get-away that I  spent an entire week slowly packing. I  left  our sleepy little mountain village, early that morning, trading a peaceful redwood corridor for the woes of morning rush hour on the Silicon Valley freeway. Then parking lots, shuttle bus rides, airport chaos, a bumpy jet flight, and crowds galore.

After landing at the Seattle airport, I stepped off the plane fully prepared to enter The Magic Portal, immediately. While lugging my heavy suitcase, I found my way to the rental car kiosk, ignorantly thinking I was, 'but a heartbeat away', from the Ferryboat that would take me to my Island. (on the map, everything looked so much smaller and closer!)

Since I had ignored all the pre-wrapped snack bar food, while passing numerous airline counters, I was starting to get hungry--and inclined to feel sorry for myself. But something familiar intervened: One of my secret powers. (It's actually a force, an energy), which has the handy ability to totally obliterate the very IDEA that problems actually exist. This simple 'acknowledgment' is how I tend to 'refresh my mind-browser'. It can instantly 'poof' such bad ideas right into thin air, with a calm smile. 

Onward! We are almost there! The Force suggested.
 
Reconnected once again--the 'smile upon my soul' was back! The innate spirit of ADVENTURE had taken on a life of its own (which had been slowly spreading like stealth wildfire, throughout my cells for weeks now), so this dream-trip journey had acquired an ability to suffuse my whole being, with infectious promise!

Driving through Seattle, my rental car tackled a massive urban sprawl that dwarfed any freeway in my home town. I survived late afternoon rush hour traffic, trying not to get lost, and having to change lanes amidst throngs of impulsive drivers, darting in and out. (On the map, everything looked so much simpler.) 

I took sanity breaks! One of Seattle's many 'university areas' had a Whole Foods market. On a stop for something to eat (finally!), I strolled around the neighborhood, drawing deeply upon the vitality, of all the nearby 'college kids', who were out and about. Then I loaded up with provisions before heading off to the Island. 

Finally, I found the Ferry Boat entrance, where an elaborate system, of waiting lines simply meant more hours must pass, before we would actually board the gigantic ship, but luckily, I had brought along my I-pod (with a full battery)! 

While waiting in line, I tried to draw comfort, knowing that eventually, I would be delivered into Paradise with a blissful smile of satisfaction on my face! After all, I was on my way, at last, to the legendary Whidbey Island! But 'the hoped for thrill' simply could not find its way through the weariness that had begun to deflate me, as the wait dragged on.


At last, I was able to enter into the belly of this massive ship, where my car was dutifully sandwiched among rows and rows of vehicles. Totally depleted by now, however, I had neither steam, nor stamina, left over, to even care about the view anymore; nor to get out and survey the scenery that slowly inched away behind us. 

If I wanted to watch the coast of Whidbey Island draw imperceptibly closer, it would mean getting across to the other side of the ship. But I literally could not budge from my seat inside the car. 

Weary and dejected, I pouted all alone in my vehicle while others got out of theirs, to visit the snack bar. I stared blankly through large open squares along the sides of the ship, as vista views of the coastline lost its charm. The mainland grew more distant, while my stamina faded with every inch that crept between us, and the continent.


My spot, near an open-air window, faced the land, that grew smaller in our wake. Early twilight began to play with the setting sun, the sparkling water, and the golden glow of the continent behind us. (So much for thinking I would still arrive with plenty of daylight to find my way!)  


I just sat and stared off toward the Northeastern side of Seattle's proud skyline, where monotonous, dense forests blanketed the receeding shoreline. We inched along so slowly that it was not clear if our Ferry was really moving. It made no sound. 

Exhausted by long lines, chaotic traffic, endless miles, and all the extra hours that had somehow slipped away, I just sat there, numb and weary. One by one, lights began to twinkle from hidden seaside dwellings along the coast, as dusk closed in. 

Finally we pulled into the Clinton Ferry Dock. So, I turned the motor on, and drove onto the island, where I unceremoniously followed the signs to Cultus Bay. Not exactly the glorious arrival I had imagined!

Fortunately, the directions my hosts had given, to find the vacation rental were perfectly easy to follow. James, who commutes to his job at a Seattle university, met me in the driveway, when I arrived. Friendly and warm, he helped carry my luggage through their home and down the inside stairway to my own area. I met his wife Janet, a social worker, as I paused briefly in their living space upstairs. They were very sweet folks, within my general age range; so solid, kind, and settled, that it felt like I was coming home to family. 

Once downstairs, and alone in 'my quarters', I just stood there. FEELING IT. Exotic and serene, at once. Better than the photos online. This refuge was vibrant and alive. The very space was saturated with life-force. My stunning view from the deck outside, overlooked the cozy harbor of Cultus Bay. It was an exquisite painting, come to life!

When I first stepped through the threshold, and stood inside the rumpus room, closing the door behind me, all I knew was that I felt safe, free, and utterly, deliciously alone. Slowly, I began to inhabit these precious quarters, unpacking and setting up my new life. Moving my stuff into the intimate bedroom item by item, and allowing the space to remain prominent, as 'my things' found their niche in closet or shelf, until the idea of 'impact' became synonymous with order, function, and above all: invitation! All you need to do here, is BE! (this precious refuge whispered, over and over again…)

A perfect balance of 'nestled and vast' embraced me with loving arms. A sense of limitless expanse, and warm shelter, permeated the territory where I would reside. The hallway between kitchen and bedroom was a corridor of passage: an enchanted portal into 'my self' (something that had become lost across the decades). I set up my sweet little bathroom last of all, then surveyed my new world. And it was just right!

Dwelling in a place with glass walls was a new experience. It was getting dark when I arrived. I stepped out onto the balcony overlooking the harbor homes, and docks. Lights were lit up along the scenic waterway, Reverence fell over everything. Stillness and beauty prevailed. The mainland was a blur of distant lights across the Puget Sound.

My first night demanded absolutely nothing from me. No thoughts of tomorrow, nor the life that I had left behind me. No plans of any sort. No time frame. No thoughts of Langley and the adventures that lay ahead, nor of my appointment to make a piece of hand-blown glass at Callahan's studio. Just sink into the warm comfort of bed and nothing more. The week that followed would bring delightful exploration, discovery, and just plain fun--but for that first night: merely sanctuary. And infinite permission… to do absolutely nothing but exist.
~ ~ ~

If you want to see some of the magic this place does offer; here is a sweet video introduction. For me, it brings back memories of special places and times. Langley, as the 'Heart of Whidbey' in my experience, is where community gathers. It's also a lovely place to walk around in peaceful solitude.


. . . To Be Continued . . .

video from: https://www.youtube.com/user/RoseRonler

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Manzanita Magic: An Oracle Dog-walk through The Sandhills!



Back before he died; Willy and I took a walk almost every day. Our little black mutt was a most precious family member, and how he loved his daily walks! But on one particular morning, during our walk, I encountered something that invited me to take a significant turn in the direction of my life.

Willy loved the ritual invitation almost as much as the walk itself. It was an ongoing game we played: a family tradition. To whip him into an instant frenzy of ecstasy and wild excitement, you only had to almost say the magic phrase: "Do you want to go for a-a-a-a-a . . ."   (then silence and a breathless interlude). His hyper-alert, furry form would freeze--as if he'd been placed 'on hold'! Like the calm before the storm, Willy's ears stood on sharp alert--his tail paused mid-air, in a motionless trance of torture--while Life itself waited to hear what would come next . . .

Willy knew the word. His whole being had experienced it already, inside, but until the humans finally relented, and finished their sentence, his big chocolate eyes, would remain riveted on the verge of insane dog-laughter. Until uttered aloud, it simply wasn't REAL! So, of course, we played our part by  s-l-o-w-l-y  teasing forth this sacred word-charm, at last!

"Do you want to go for a "WALK?"  

Once he did finally hear this magic word, out loud, the dam would burst! Reassured that his high hopes were really true--he'd turn round and round, in mad circles, unable to contain his thrill, prancing and lifting himself up, excitedly, making happy dog sounds, as he bolted for the door.

We would each re-enact our role in this human/dog game, over and over again. We all needed the medicine waiting for us, up on top of 'The Sandhills'.

Fortunately, our street dead-ends at the entrance to a rare and precious eco-system of Sandy Hills and desert foliage. It's part of a tiny, unique, and well-hidden greenbelt, crisscrossed with delightful trails—well, it's actually more of a white-belt! 

Eon's ago, when the ocean floor was uplifted, high into the Santa Cruz Mountains, most of it became forest terrain, with Pines and Redwoods. But this small section of The San Lorenzo Valley, managed to remain exactly intact--like the Pacific shoreline it once was, with a smattering of desert plants, and loose sand.

The Silver Manzanita resides here, it's root-feet dug deep into hard packed sand dunes.

Silver Manzanita, Oak, and Madrone Embracing
The stately Madrone with it's bare and brazen branches is exquisite to behold. Dancing with the humble Manzanita--these two remain entwined, showing off their smooth red sheen of wooden limbs, protected by the sturdy old oaks. A Moonlit stroll, up into these sandhills, reveals one of Earth's well-hidden treasures. At night, the ground beneath your feet glows with incandescent moon dust! 

Winding among petrified dunes, dusted with a light layer of loose powdery-white sand, an entire world of utterly unique fossils, flora, and fauna is tucked away. But it refuses to stay 'in place'. Fickle as the sand it's made of, everything shifts and alters easily. Change is constant. No wonder I love it so much up here! My known world is exactly the same.

Metamorphosis is ongoing. Fortunately, I've always found it interesting. But I remember back, over a decade ago, when a particularly huge wave-swell hit. My marriage had ended abruptly, and it was easy to get caught in sudden undertows of loss and pain. Wave-swells would surge through without notice, pulling me beneath the surface, swift and hard.

On one particular day, as Willy and I started off on our walk, I found myself growing weary of bracing against the tides. I discovered something interesting, quite by accident: Pain is patient. It resides politely within us, until we are ready to deal with it. But it was actually the modest Silver Manzanita bush, who helped me out, the most.

Meandering back down through these familiar hills that rise from the Valley floor, I ran behind Willy, trying to keep up, when a monster wave of angst took me by surprise. It felt utterly impossible to manage. So, I followed my little black mutt through the smooth white mounds, of this rare, endangered habitat--drawing comfort as if from an old friend who knows me well.

Then SUDDENLY, I realized what it was we shared together (this unique area of terrain: and me); I understood why I need its lessons NOW. This place is going extinct—rapidly before our watching eyes. While my life as I had known it, was also going extinct, as well.

Willy, ran around exploring until he found a spot to rest, while I stopped to admire a particularly vibrant specimen of Manzanita.

Rooted in powdery sand, it's bearing was so majestic; so alive, that it might suddenly begin to walk around. 

Speaking directly to this lovely young tree , I shared my admiration. Silently, it listened. Soon I found myself asking for advice,

     “How does a plant deal with dying?" 

The bush was rather surprised at first; but soon replied,

     “Cycles rather than endings---that’s what we experience.”

So, I pondered this and saw how my personal relationship to grief, mirrors the plight of these lovely sandhills as they rapidly lose plants and critters--while they continue to erode. They are being rapidly crowded out by housing developments, while Life--as I'd known it--was slipping away as well.

      “Both of us are in the business of dying.”  I explained, then I also
       added,


     “And yes, for you it’s all about cycles but for me this isn't just a    

      cycle. It’s an ending. You probably don’t even care, one way or  
      another about your future. But, to me, my future matters   
      tremendously.”

Taciturn it merely presided over the sunsets glow. I regarded its equanimity and remarked, 

     “Well, the truth is that       neither of us is very
      good with endings.
      You are blissfully
      unprepared and have
      no clue how to how
      to deal with them,
      while I have been
      drawn to endings all         my life, without                 knowing why. 
     "In fact, our society in
      general, isn't so good
      with endings. We
      have overrun the            planet the in our               attempt to deal with
      pain, loss and grief. 

My lecture did not phase the lovely Manzanita, with it's intricate web of deep red branches, glowing through the silver-green foliage. It simply presided over the area. The next remark seemed to come out of nowhere:
 
    “There will always be waves of pain.”

This sage-like insight was stated in a very calm manner. I can’t say it was the silver manzanita, but I can’t say it wasn’t. However, since I like to feel engaged, I grabbed onto the quality of the word  w-a-v-e: sensing its pulse-like rush, punctuated with pauses. They did surge through me.

     “Yes, its true.”  I agreed, then noted,

     “Pain does have a beginning, a middle and an end. Like waves, it also tends to come and go."

       
What I glimpsed about waves of pain was a godsend as the waves would no doubt keep on coming. But this meant that I could breathe, rather than stiffening up, knowing that it’s always just one wave at a time. There's usually a break before the next one comes. And that could be manageable, if taken, just one wave at a time. I felt good about our conversation and turned toward home.


There was something else though, as the prickly leafed red limbs of the manzanita grabbed at my sweater, inquiring directly,

     “This business about dying. Aren’t you being given a chance finally, to do it right, this time?"  

While I considered this wise advice, the Silver Manzanita paused for a moment, then it continued,

     "Here is one of the most important relationship in your entire life and it is ending (changing). What if you put all the TLC possible, into making this a worthy ending? Remember, you and these sandhills are not alone. The planet is dealing with endings, Big Time, right now. Welcome to the club!”

     "Thank you." I said. And as I bowed to my new friend, something heavy lifted from my spirit. We just never know where, or how, Life's wisdom might arise!

~ ~ ~

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Feelings: What are they for?



“To speak, 
to ask to have audience today in the world,
requires that we speak 
to the world,
for the world is in the audience;
    it too is listening to what we say.”  

   James Hillman  [1]

~ ~ ~ 


Sensing beings have 'feelers'. Human feelers don't stand out on top of our head like antenna with little balls at the top. They are invisible. When our feelings want to reach outward, we speak, dance, run, laugh, cry or hide. We express feelings through our eyes, ears, skin, and proprioceptors. Without such inner sense organs, what we call 'feeling', simply wouldn't register. 

It's this miracle of connection that everyone longs to feel! Feelings are 'two-way' entities. They want to be 'taken in' just as much as they want to be broadcast forth. If all feeling could be taken out of your favorite TV show, or movie, would you still want to watch it?

~ ~ ~

When does a feeling stop being felt? Or become something different? Change into a thought? When do we shift from feeling something, into thinking about the feeling we just had? Or naming the feeling? Or analyzing the feeling? Or commenting upon the feeling? Or acting upon the feeling?

 ~ ~ ~

What might happen if we paused to CHERISH the feeling a bit longer, before moving on from it? 


Childhood, for me, was a time of immersion. Sand. Wind. Running through sprinklers barefoot, in freshly mowed green grass: inhaling the pungent fragrance! It was a time to INDULGE feelings. 
 

Do you remember swinging? The feel of legs pumping to match the extent of the arc! The breeze caressing pink cheeks with each 'back and forth' sway. What about climbing a tree? Hugging the trunk and scampering over branches, while the world below was a completely different place than the one you'd known, while you were 'down there'!

Recently, some friends were talking about how feelings are just feelings--UNTIL we take the next step of adding Interpretation onto whatever feelings we have. Or onto whatever feelings somebody else might have. I had never thought about the fact that feelings DO indeed, rapidly turn into interpretation. How fascinating!

I have been deeply attuned to the subtleties of "interpretation" ever since that conversation. This focus is penetrating my experience like a magnifying glass. Because of this, I keep hearing and seeing whatever is happening around me--with myself and with others--through the lens of this perspective. First: How does this FEEL?? (nothing beyond that...). Then,

Where does 'feeling' end; where does 'interpretation' begin?

As I pay really, really close attention to the actual   s p a c e   that does exist, in-between feeling and interpretation, IT seems to spread out. It creates more room, and more breath, and more time, for CONTENT to register. Within such an atmosphere there is STILLNESS, which allows thought to emerge at a natural pace. 

Within whatever space we might be sharing together; when this gap is not only allowed to exist, but is allowed to be felt and to be extended a little longer--something can come ALIVE, between beings whose feelings are co-arising. The texture and the complexity of such terrain can be utterly flabbergasting. So much exists therein.

As I notice how very much actually exists between the lines of our words and our actions, it is begining to amaze me how very MUCH is swirling and churning, within each one of us. I find myself caught between awe, compassion, and a strange sort of horror. The interweave of energy beneath all of these feelings is so powerful and so strong, that it is a sheer miracle that we are able to communicate at all!!!!!

To intentionally ALLOW all that actually LIVES within this realm of FEELING, to be freely experienced, silently honored, and somehow considered wholeheartedly, BEFORE anyone responds at all, can be a 'yummy' thing to do, as well as an 'alienating' thing to do. For myself, I often notice how my feelings can lead to numbness or a sort of 'dial tone' on existence itself. It's how I have learned to 'make myself safe' from the perceived dangers of feelings. 

As kids in an 'out of touch' culture, we have all imbibed so many subtle (and not-so-subtle) messages about the 'danger' of having feelings and the potential 'risk' of expressing them. We have learned this from watching others and from interacting with them. And from seeing what happens when thing 'go bad', as well as what 'seems to work'. This all got programed into us preverbally, and it's not gonna go away. So now we just get to live with it. And of course, it is gonna pop up all the time, through our interactions with each other.

~ ~ ~

The impulse to shift from FEELING into INTERPRETATION happens almost imperceptibly, beneath the surface. We have all been so conditioned to make this leap, that it seems to be 'part of the feeling itself'. I've been looking closely at this phenomena in my own life lately, and with those whose lives intertwine with mine. I find myself leaping from feeling to interpretation automatically and believing it before I realize what is happening. I see others doing it as well. It happens almost instantly and we often fail to even notice the transition. Then we have believed the 'conclusion' that our interpretation of a feeling, has led us to make. And far too often, we are impelled into action before we have consciously registered any of this!

~ ~ ~

I am imagining a different world: One where, at that first hint of a furrowed brow, or a slack jaw, with a sharp intake of breath; or at that first sign of bracing, or of hope, that shows up on the countenance of our friend or loved ones face: what if we'd all been conditioned instead, to be alerted (not to protect ourselves, but instead to become ever more intently and sincerely concerned about what sort of FEELINGS might be surfacing behind the expressions and tone and body language, of the one with whom we are trying to connect?

I don't know about you, but in my experience, what I saw mirrored around me, ranged from auto-pilot, knee-jerk counter responses, to a sort of frozen paralysis that made everyone's 'fight or flight' system start to activate deep inside. People would tend to either go into a shell, go into a reactionary mode, or occasionally someone would remain calm, centered, and steady, as they became curious about what was taking place. 

Those who did simply remain present, and were not threatened in any manner, were able to provide a safe space, wherein others could relax. And as soon as we humans feel relaxed and safe; as soon as we feel that there is genuine interest and an inherent support toward WHAT IS, along with the readiness to allow even deeper, hidden stuff to safely emerge if IT wants to--then the entire atmosphere in a room can shift.

PERMISSION is vitally crucial to safety. And yet even permission can seem to invite uncomfortable (socially awkward or personally threatening) energies to step forth into the arena. And what does our society value most? Permission? Subservience? Direct expression? Not rocking the boat? Comfort above all? Genuine response? Keeping the peace? Sincere expression?  Questions or revelations that expose resistance? Discovering what another truly thinks, feels, or believes? Conformity? Honest dialogue? Stones unturned? Avoiding conflict? Pecking orders? Competition? Living vicariously through others or through fantasy? Direct confrontation? Power? Strength in vulnerability? Invulnerability? The list is endless. But consideration of the values we have imbibed, and of the values we model as we interact ARE indeed worth of exploration.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

WAKING UP TO WHAT WE ARE

PART ONE
 

I was 10 years old when I walked out of our house, that morning. But even before the front door slammed shut behind me, I heard my mother's voice calling my name, 

"Stephanie! Stephanie, get back in here!" Her tone was urgent, as usual.

Sitting in her well-worn spot on the couch, in front of our Black & White TV set, she recited the familiar list of chores, for me to do. Soap operas took the highest priority, of course, so she handled that task, herself. She had a proactive approach to all the other stuff: she delegated. 

"Stephanie! Are the dishes done? Did you hang the wash out on the clothes line yet? Make sure your little brother lays down for his nap, would you?" 

Mom directed me with precision, as if she held a remote control, with a special button that bore MY name. She was really good at pressing that button so no work would go unfinished, while she kept up with the current gossip on The Guiding Light. (My mother must have been an early visionary, since, of course, remote controls had not yet been invented!) 

For years, I had been really good at jumping up to do her bidding. But on this particular day, my body refused to WILT with obedience. It was HOW she said my name. Her sense of urgency reverberated through me: "Stephanie! Stephanie!"  Demanding instant response, this harsh echo felt jarring. It jolted through me, piercing deep into the tissues and cells of my body. I was running from the sound of my own name.

"Stephanie!  Stephanie!  Come back here!"

Ignoring her command, I kept on walking, without looking back. My father had recently cut down one of our Eucalyptus trees. It lay across our acre of wild land, emitting powerful blasts of pungent resin. With the sound of her tone still ringing in my ears, I sat down on this log. But something rankled in my mind. A crucial question began to fuel my resistance. 


Can this be WHO I am?  I wondered. 

"Stephanie?" Am I my name? Am I the person whom my mother beholds, when she calls me? Does the tone of her voice indicate who I am? But 'Stephanie' is just a name. Just a word. Isn't it? How can this word possibly capture WHO I am? Surely, I am more than just 'Stephanie'? Surely none of us are ONLY our names? But what ARE we then? Who am I? What am I, REALLY!?!

Stuck on this question, and feeling baffled, I began to repeat my name out loud, trying to get behind what it meant. Reaching for myself through different inflections than the one my mother had used, while seated on that log, my name became a mantra. Over and over, this silent chant of 'Stephanie' continued, as if somehow, it might unravel this mystery.  

As the litany of my name tried to bore its way through this burning question, I soon found myself in "a place" of expansive spaciousness, a sort of ‘QUIET’ that I’d never experienced. It soon opened into vast empty space that was palpable and alive, yet empty. I sat with that for a bit. I began to suspect that there were no words for what “I” was (what we are). I got up from the log.

Wandering through my yard, I climbed up the gnarly branches of a nearby pepper tree. I reached for a nearby cluster of pink-pearls, dangling from willowy green fronds. Very carefully, I pealed away the incandescent shell that enclosed each tiny seed, marveling anew, as each gem revealed its hidden nature. Afterward I was left with the sense that 'self' was much more than what everyone seemed to think it was.

Perhaps none of us were ‘our names’? I also ‘knew’ somehow, that whatever I had ‘touched upon’ would be the same thing anyone else—asking the same question—would also discover. I have never forgotten that moment because it was one of those defining SHIFTS between past and future.

PART TWO


The next major SHIFT took place in a white wood-frame house, on a
street lined with sycamores. After my ceremony of initiation into TM (transcendental meditation), the chipper young woman who had given me my mantra, escorted me into a dark room where I sat down repeating my mantra silently, to myself, until she returned.

Twenty minutes later she gently touched my arm, inviting me to follow her back out of the room. I wondered why she’d returned so quickly. It felt like only a few moments had passed. I had melded with the chair and could have just stayed there. I could not say ‘where’ I’d been, nor ‘what’ had happened, but I cannot forget how the sunset hues of the ripe peach she handed me, shimmered with beauty.

Walking out of that house was like moving through liquid silk, each step a slow, deliberate miracle. Every leaf on the sycamore tree, that summer afternoon, was utterly awe-inspiring. It took me about 15 ecstatic minutes to eat that peach.

 Driving was delightful; something had turned the sound off in the world around me—It felt like everything was happening in a vacuum. When I got home, my partner told me that my voice had never sounded so soft and serene before. My movements were more peaceful, my face looked different. In fact I was not at all the person I had been up until that moment. And I liked this new person waaaay better! Or I should say, I liked how everything was so much more present, so precious, and so very unique.

 PART THREE


Thirty years later, I was walking down the corridor of the hospital where I worked as a NICU nurse. They had just called the ER response team for a 35 week pregnancy. As the RN assigned to attend the high-risk deliveries, that day, I grabbed my tackle box of supplies and walked at a brisk clip down the hall. I will admit that such moments have always terrified me (even though it didn't show). So much could go wrong. The weight of responsibility was tremendous.

On this particular day I had been ‘doing something’ different—something I’d learned bit by bit throughout that recent year, while relating to my spirituality in an entirely new manner. I was ‘doing’ this at home, at work, with friends, alone, with strangers—everywhere, all the time. It had allowed me to step out of my life-long dysfunctional patterns. And now, as I walked down that hall, I was doing it—even in the face of the most challenging thing I have to deal with in my profession.

The ‘thing’ I’d been doing was to abandon myself to the present moment with absolutely no energy going toward the past or the future. In each instant I would do it all over again. I’d done it right up until that instant when I was walking down the hall, and then when I realized what I was doing, I wavered,

“But this is a matter of life and death—not one of your ‘mundane life’ moments! Isn’t it rather a risk to take such a stance at a time like this?? To be with whatever arises, not trying to control it or resist it? To remain free of worry or plans? How safe is that?”

That's when it hit me. To take such a leap of faith is the only way to know if something is REAL or not. If it’s really true, then it must apply to everything, and to all situations. If it has exceptions then it’s not actually true. So I decided to abandon myself to the present moment then and there. I asked myself

     “What IS my present moment?”  The answer was obvious: FEAR. DREAD.  INSECURITY.

     “Well, then I will have to abandon myself to this…and that doesn’t sound like such a good idea.” My dialogue continued (it was a long walk down a timeless hallway).

      “Is that the ONLY thing that’s happening at this moment?”

      “Well, I also have this simultaneous sense that I can totally trust everything to work out. But that doesn’t have any basis in anything I’m certain about.”

     “These are all thoughts about what might happen or what you have felt in the past. What else is actually true in 'just this moment'?”

     “The only thing that I can really say is true right now, is that I am walking down this hall. Alone. Hoping that everyone else will show up on time and that everything will go well.”

     “VERY GOOD! So abandon yourself to that!”


I followed my own advice and simply walked down the hall, knowing that THIS MOMENT was the only thing REAL. And a strange thing happened. I trusted it. It was deeper than trust, really. It was a sense of being held, of knowing. Not of knowing anything in particular, but just a reassurance from the universe, that in this instant I was where I belonged, doing precisely what I was supposed to be doing. Nothing more. There was strength and a certainty; a ’rightness’, and a sense of being ‘in the Tao’, that I’d never known before.  

It was like that day on the log but this was taking it to a new and amazing level. Words don’t touch it. They can only hint.

PART FOUR

When I entered the delivery room I saw the entire scene in a brand new way. It was as if the 'old me' was missing. Scanning the room all at once, I saw the newborn 'warming table' well prepared, the team ready in sterile garb, and the father holding his wife's hand looking excited and scared at the same time. One of the doctors in blue scrubs made a warm, yet playful comment and we all laughed. 

As I laughed, it was strange to notice how--without the 'old me' (and its baggage of stress and insecurity)--everything was unfolding within a spaciousness of freedom and clarity. I could actually SEE the couple and FEEL their joyous exhaustion. I could actually HEAR the playfulness and DELIGHT in the doctors voice. At the same time I could fully LISTEN to the nurse who shared some important patient data with us all.

There was a noticable absence of anxiety and a soft ease in the room. An aura of trust engulfed the entire experience. The delivery went well. The baby screamed, was healthy and needed no resuscitation. We did a brief examination and placed him into his parents arms. Effortless innocence bathed everything. I was struck by the utter absence of any self-consiousness whatsoever. Each one of us felt like harmonious parts of a greater whole. I loved being there without the 'old me'! She was not missed. She was not needed. Truthfully, I had no need to encounter her again.



PART FIVE

For the next month or so, I remained “there”, oriented toward being fully honest and present for ‘things as they are’. I continued to return in each ‘next moment’ to the essence of what was happening at the core. I remained free of the 'identity-based me' whom I've catered to all my life. My interest was not oriented toward mind-chatter, nor feeling-tone. But merely the acknowledgment of whatever was taking place. 

IT was all part of a WHOLE that grew increasingly obvious the more I paid attention to it. Any sense of separation or distinction (making me feel that there was a need to choose between me or you, this or that, now or later, right or wrong, etc.) all dissolved. There was only the ‘next obvious thing to do’.

I could see, feel, and know, exactly what was needed. I would hear myself saying something before my mind had weighed in on the matter. It was all flow. There was no sense that I was ‘doing’ any of this. It was life doing itself. "I" was no longer there. There was only AWARENESS noticing, being, speaking, feeling, doing, loving (it was all LOVE, unconditional, non-emotional, all-inclusive LOVE) and this love did not distinguish between nice/ugly, good/bad, smart/dumb etc. It held everyone and everything with an equal regard and an infinite support.



Sadness, death, loss, pain, fear, anger, confusion---the whole host of human dilemmas were there. Compassion soaked through it all. Not in a sticky, dramatic way. It was clear that this AWAKENESS, this CORE ESSENCE: THIS was clearly what we all are. 


“What you’re looking for is what’s looking!“ 

Clearly, the AWARENESS itself was always ready to do exactly what was necessary. It was very practical. And supportive. Any of us can be its agent. It is there in every particle of existence. If we don’t get in the way of it, then it acts effortlessly through us. This is what I discovered.

The one sense, remaining almost constantly, throughout this time, was GRATITUDE. I was so touched by the grace (or whatever it was) that allowed me to partake in such revelation, such beauty, such ONENESS of being. It was a continual feast of gratitude and sometimes I felt that I almost could not contain my joy and appreciation.

 


Then, just as suddenly as this happened, just as unexpectedly as it had begun; it ended. One moment I was just back to being caught up like before, like most of us, most of the time. And according to the teachers, and pioneers, of this territory, this ‘coming & going’ is typical. Most of us are WAKING UP gradually. The way it happens is different for everyone. Whatever any one of us is doing right now, THAT is part of our path. We are all ON our way. Nothing is left out of waking up. No one is left out.


Reprinted from previous publication @: http://www.experienceproject.com/stories/Am-On-A-Spiritual-Journey/386900