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The important point of spiritual practice is not to try to escape your life, but to face it – exactly and completely.

~ Dainin Katagiri

I have spent so long in the search, that I decided a different approach was needed.  After all, it is futile to keep doing the same thing and expect a different result.  Chasing, searching, questing… this has not worked.  In fact, I get the feeling that this has only clouded and masked and been a running away from the very thing I was searching for.

The one you are looking for is the one who is looking

~ Deepak Chopra

So I decided I would try something different – I would try stillness.  No more running.  Anyway, I am tired from the running, from the searching.  I felt I needed to learn to just BE.  To sit still long enough to hear what came forth from the silence.  Our truest selves, I believe, are always to be found in the stillness, in the quiet place deep within, that is only found when all else falls away.  Cast off the thoughts of should and could and didn’t and must.  Cast of the voices of your parents and your friends and the strangers you think are judging you – or should I say, cast off the voices you ascribe to them.  Cast off your conditioning and your childhood and society, move out of the haste and the scrabble.  Find a quiet moment, find a quiet place, find that empty space – and just sit.

And thus I find myself where I now am.  I work as a typist.  I feel like I have to somehow learn to be ok with that before I can move on.  I have just moved into a one bedroom house by the sea.  It is my sanctuary.  It is my place to just BE.  Sometimes that is frustrating and lonely.  Somehow I feel that is part of the process.  There is silence there.  Always in the silence, the self can be found. 

So many of us are disconnected – from ourselves, from our bodies, from our Earth.  So many of us live lives of “quiet desperation”, feeling faint unease or dissatisfaction, without really being able to pinpoint why.  I believe it is because we have lost touch with who we really are, with the voice that whispers quietly from inside us in a language we’ve forgotten how to understand, drowned out by the cacophony of voices, the busy rush, the magnitude of concrete that fills this modern world around us, this modern version of life.

So many people have said to me – as I have engaged in different ways in the quest to find my true path, my authentic life – that your job does not define you, your job is not who you are.  Your job funds your life, your job is not your life.

To be honest, I don’t think I agree.  At least, not for me.  I don’t think I can live that way.  How sad, I think, to spend such a majority of your week, your time, your precious life, being someone else, being disconnected from who you truly are and what you came here for, from your truth and your joy.

I want what I do with my life to be a definition of me.  I want the way I spend my time to be an expression of myself and who I am and what I believe in.  I want to live authentically in every single action, in every moment, in every breath.  Not just after work, not just on the weekend, not just when I’ve fulfilled other duties.  I believe the duties in our lives are the ones we have chosen to have there – I want to chose those which reflect my highest truth, which say something about who I fundamentally am, which are an expression of my very self.

When we meet someone new, one of the first questions we ask is: “What do you do?”  I think this is actually fair enough, because what you “do” for a living is actually what you spend a huge majority of your time and energy on.  The question really is: “How are you using your life?”

I want to be able to answer that question with words that resonate with the deepest truth I have about who I am and what I am here for.  I don’t want to utter the answer with the lingering impulse to add imploringly “but I am not just that, I am something else, I am so much more!”  I want the answer to sum it up, to be me in a nutshell, to say something about who I am and what I stand for.

In reading something the other day, I came across three words that have haunted me ever since:

Live Your Truth.

 

So the point of the silence is to let my truth be heard, to become so familiar with the tone of its voice that I will always know what resonates with it.  And then to live it. 

Because at the end of the day, it is the living that counts.

Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.

~ Henry David Thoreau

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.

~ Henry David Thoreau

Living Out Loud

Recently, I came across a post written by a fellow blogger who I have never met before, and yet through her writing I often find myself expressed (take this post, for example, on being like a river, which describes me and my life better than I think even I could).  In this new post, the author discusses how she is going through a process of rereading all her old blog posts, sorting through them, reworking and discarding.  Of the pieces she has come across which she arguably defines as “crap”, she says:

The writing served a purpose, an outlet, a therapeutic way of finding linearity in the mindfield of living out loud.

This post made me feel better about my own writing and my own blogging process.  I have always lived my life out loud, but how many times have I reworked or culled old blog posts, trying to make it tidier, more polished – to make my life seem more polished, less chaotic, trying to cull out all the bits that don’t make sense to the outside world, all the rants and details and enthusatic rambles that I reneg on the day later.

But when I read of this author doing the same thing, my first thought was – don’t do it!  Don’t edit it, don’t censor your life – leave it raw, leave it imperfect.  I like it raw and imperfect – because I am raw and imperfect!  Reading it makes me feel like it’s ok to be who I am.  Inconsistent, philosophical, chaotic, spiritual, enthusastic, thoughtful, lost and yet touched by the mystery.

So often I don’t write a post on here for weeks – months! – because I want it to be perfect, perfectly structured and worded, with perfect content.  I want to wait until I have something poignant to say, or until my life makes sense and I have something whole and complete to offer, something tidy and linear.  Well, yet again I realise that the beauty is rather in the imperfection.  Life is not whole and complete and tidy.  Life is raw and imperfect.  And that is what is so amazing, so exciting, so beautiful about it.  Life is real, it is not a story or a dress rehearsal.  We make it up as we go along and we stumble and we fumble, but it is all its own form of perfection in a way, and it is all fabulous.

So I will continue to live my life out loud, unashamedly.  Sometimes my life doesn’t make sense to anyone else – often, in fact.  That’s ok.  I love it!  I love my ecclectic, heartfelt quirkiness.  And maybe, just maybe, by letting my own light shine uncensored and unblinkered, I will give someone else the courage to bravely shine their own out into the world without fear.

If I can pay that forward, then maybe my crazy little place in life makes some kind of sense after all.

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds…Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict everything you said to-day.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Poetry in Motion

I want my life to be a piece of poetry.

Some times poetry is happy.  Sometimes poetry is sad or angry.

Sometimes poetry is stupid and frivoulous and funny.  Sometimes poetry is deep and poignant.

Sometimes poetry flows like a river off your tongue and through your soul.  Sometimes poetry is choppy, out of rhythm, staccato, syncopated.

Sometimes poetry is about love and passion.  Sometimes poetry is about hate.  And passion.

Sometimes poetry is happy and sometimes it’s not.

But it is always beautiful.

I want my life to be a piece of poetry, and yet but a stanza in the soul of the world.

Eckhart Tolle is changing my life.  

By which I mean – reading his books is changing my perspective.  Which is actually so much more important than any external change in circumstances.  Without a change in perspective we just keep repeating the same patterns in different ways.  A fundamental change in perspective is much more transformative – most importantly of the inner life, but this can’t help but then flow over into external life circumstances as well.
 
Those of you who have followed my writing for a long time know that I have spent most of my adult life searching.  Searching for…. what?  Purpose, meaning, my place in things, the reason for it all.  Searching for my ‘yes’.
 
In reading Tolle recently, he summed up perfectly the mistake I had been making in all of this for so many years:
 
Don’t seek happiness.  If you seek it, you won’t find it, because seeking is the antithesis of happiness.
 
Seeking is the antithesis of happiness.  Reading that sentence was like the universe handed me a note entitled: What You Have Been Doing Wrong.  I’ve spent my whole adult life seeking and believing that the search was noble, that the search was the whole point of life.
 
In fact, I have been missing the point.  Happiness is not out there.  Happiness is a natural state of being that resides only and ever in the now, and is covered up by unhappiness, searching, confusion.  You cannot find it.  You can only become aware of it in each moment.  Trying to find it only perpetuates the confusion, the sense of lacking that blocks the awareness of its presence.
 
One of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself in any moment is: “In this moment, what is lacking?”
 
If you focus purely on the present moment – not your wider life situation, not the moment before or the moment after but always and only RIGHT NOW – I think you will find that the answer is pretty much always: nothing.
 
Nothing is lacking.  You are whole unto yourself in each moment.  There is nothing you need seek.  Seeking is the antithesis of happiness.  In letting go of the need to seek, you become aware of a peacefulness beneath the seeking that is really much more fundamental and pure than ‘happiness’.  Happiness, really, is a human invention.  Who and what you are just is. 
 
And that is more than enough.
 
Mastery of life is not a question of control, but of finding a balance between human and Being.
~ Eckhart Tolle

I stumbled across this fabulous idea of six word memoirs – basically, the idea is to sum up the past year in six words.

The title of this post is my memoir for 2009.

Hopefully at this time next year, I will be writing:

Lived, loved and enjoyed life fully.

Or, as one poster on the above linked blog wrote: stopped searching and enjoyed my life.

What is your six word memoir?

What Christmas Means To Me

I just stumbled across this guy’s music today and I think he’s a pretty awesome lyricist.  I really like this song because it pretty much sums up everything that Christmas means to me.

My family and I don’t have a lot of money at the moment.  And as my first Christmas was at the age of 13, due to growing up in a religion that forbade it, we don’t have a lot of childhood sentimentality attached to the traditional forms of celebrating the holiday.  We don’t have a christmas tree, we don’t make a huge heavy roast, we don’t get stressed and put up with relatives we hate – we don’t even do presents.

What we do is eat homemade pizza and chocolate cake, drink pink bubbly with strawberries in the glass, spend time together, and laugh a lot.  This year we jumped in the sea, even though it was still freezing.  There was no Santa.  There was just us.  Us girls hanging out together and being grateful for each other.

That’s what Christmas means to me.  Family and drinking wine in the sun.  Long may the tradition continue.

It’s interesting how the wisdom of words can remain, even when your interpretation of them changes completely.

In my last post, I wrote:

Perhaps we have to realise that to be happy, we have to not only want to be happy – we have to be able to accept that happiness when it comes along, even if it feels scary and unfamiliar at first.

What if the scary thing is not the vastness or greatness of the thing that makes you happy?  What if the scary thing is the fact that what makes you happy is small and insignificant and does not make you sound grand?  What if you have been living in the happiness you refuse to accept, determined that it should be found in something that sounds ‘worthy’, that meet the outside world’s definition of success?

What if doing all the things you think will make you feel grand and worthwhile actually makes you vastly unhappy?  What if you experience the purest, most uncontaminated happiness, when you wake up in the morning and look forward to going to your job as a typist?

Maybe one of the problems is that we have a tendency to equate ‘success’ with ‘happiness’.  And we equate ‘success’ with whatever society currently defines as ‘successful’.  And so we assume that happiness will come when we have completed this degree or got that promotion or save the world in this, that, or the other way.  Maybe we get so caught up in thinking that this outwardly defined ‘success’ will bring us happiness, that we lose sight of the things that truly make us happy.

The ego loves labels.  As soon as you have shed one, it will desperately grasp at another to give itself solidity, to enable its existence.  My ego has, for a long time, been caught up in the idea that I have some ‘grand purpose’.  That not to pursue some ‘grand purpose’ is somehow a waste of myself and a cop out.  As if I am some kind of gift to freakin humanity.

What if I am just really happy with my life right now?  I work as a typist, I read, I write, I spend time with friends and indulge in much wine, laughter and conversation, I spend time with my family, I sit on my deck and look at the sea.  I wake up happy, I am happy in the solitary moments, I am happy in company, I go to bed with a smile on my face looking forward to the next day.

I don’t save lives.  I don’t fix world hunger.  I am not materially wealthy or ‘successful’ as society defines it.

I work as a typist.  And I feel like the richest person in the world.  I have everything I could ever want.  I enjoy my days.  I love my life.

I am not ‘grand’, ‘worthy’ or ‘meaningful’ as I have come to define those words.  I just am.  And I find a great amount of contentment in that.

I also wrote in the last post:

We must be willing to sit with the strength of both our fear and our desire if we wish to move forward and do something with our lives.

Maybe the key is in the first few words.  We must be willing to sit with the strength of our fear and our desire.  We must be willing to sit still long enough for both to make themselves heard.  Only then, from that place of stillness, can we make the movement most in line with our true meaning, our true Being.

Even if that movement is out the door each day to a job whose title impresses no one, but which places a spring in your step as you go.