I got the call the other day and everything changed.
I hadn't known what 2012 would bring with it but there it was.
How did it feel? I went into shock and with shock came auto-pilot. I sent out a few emails and eventually fell asleep... numb.
The next morning, I woke up with what I can only describe as an adrenaline rush. My heart was racing.
While running errands, I stopped by the shore to spend some time by the water. Being near water has always been therapeutic for me. I am, after all, a double water sign. I walked along the water's edge for a while, feeling the cool air on my skin and in my lungs. Looking out at the horizon, I tried to be present and mindful but with a heavy heart I barely succeeded. I eventually gave up and succumbed to acknowledging the turmoil of emotions in my heart. I am still not good at this yet... this 'not judging' what I perceive to be my failure at being present.
On my way back, one of the shore-dwelling cats approached me and alongside her, her kitten. On this day, the kitten was unusually needy and forgot all of the shyness she'd demonstrated in previous encounters. She meowed desperately and seemed especially skinny. I also noticed she was quite a bit more aware of her hunger. I stayed with them for a while, offering up the food a little at a time and taking care to spread it out in case other cats joined us. It would only be a matter of time.
The mother ignored the food and seemed to want only affection. As she moved to rub her head against my hand, my reflex reaction was to pull away just as I heard an internal 'mom voice' tell me that these cats could carry fleas and diseases. Then I felt a sadness in my heart. A moment later, a whisper pointed out that Mother Theresa and many others showed compassion without regard to things like diseases. I held my hand out to the cat and she nuzzled it with an urgency... my heart still hurt but now for a different reason. I needed that affection as much as she did and this small simple exchange of compassion reminded me that those moments give meaning to my life. It is in these moments of compassionate connection with other beings that my heart and soul say, "Ahh... THIS is why I am right here, just now."
I found a discarded bag and poured the contents of my water bottle into it. As the two tentatively drank the fresh water, I felt a calmness surround me. I sat with that for a while and as my companions began to bask in the sun with their full tummies, I gave thanks to the universe for having given me the blessing of this moment.
The rest of the day, I thought about many things from fears about the challenges that lay in my immediate future to the inadequacies and doubts I feel about my ability to deal with them. I thought about the lives that would be impacted and the ripple effects of turmoil that would grow more like a tsunami than dissipate concentrically. Instead of burying the sadness, I acknowledged it and sat with it.
Even amidst all of this, there are some truths I know. The core of my being knows that everything is unfolding as it should, much as a bud can't help but open into a flower. The natural order of life is such that there are no accidents but when plans or "future living" get OBE (Army acronym for "overcome by events") there can certainly be many complications. When expectations need to change and adjustments need to be made the next step is to "adjust fire" as we say.
As the minutes and hours progressed that day, I went into survival mode... and started evaluating my life with a great deal more clarity. Suddenly, these constructed dreams I had about the future were violently destroyed like a rigid house of cards in a gale-force wind. Many of the questions and uncertainties I had about decisions I needed to make and in some cases the decisions themselves were nothing short of trivial and I was left feeling a sense of oppressive responsibility to sort everything out... immediately.
Ever so often, we consciously think about what we would do if we only had a known amount of time to live. Movies have been made and bucket lists created (they even made a movie about a bucket list!) around this idea. But I had never really experienced what it was like to exist in that space until now. What if you only had six months left to live? What if you only had a week or a few hours? Now, I'm not saying that I'm dying so please don't run around spreading rumors... but I *am* saying that it's always possible and that realization changed so much of my perspective in a matter of a single second.
Today, as I went through the day feeling sad about the seemingly rash decisions I made in the last couple of days, I started to lose my resolve. Everything that seemed so clear to me even just yesterday started to feel muddled and disorienting this morning. It's as if after the adrenaline wore off, I was left with doubts and uncertainties again. That's always when the inner dialogue/battle ensues. You know, the one with your "higher self" and your "inner child."
Did I make the right choice or was I too impulsive?
No, no, it was the best decision for all involved.
Well, if that's the case then why do I hurt so much?
Growth and change can sometimes hurt and you're feeling a bit guilty. Don't try to take it back. You'll just make things worse.
I often say that war gives one a sobering dose of perspective. Sitting in the absolute shittiest place you can imagine, the important things in life become evident.
While in deep and guided introspection this evening, I realized that what I'd done was in fact truly the best thing. For the first time I can remember, I selfishly chose me. Hurray! I'm no longer missing from my life and my priorities!
THIS is what I came to my self-imposed exile to do. I didn't leave so that I could find myself but instead I came to a place where I had time and space to learn to be still so that I could hear myself - know myself again. I'm by no means finished, but I am quite proud of myself for having come so far.
Deconstructing this self-destructive and limiting life script I was given and redefining/creating the being that I have the potential and want to be is painful and powerful work but in my heart, I see no other option. In order to enable my dream of helping people realize their own dreams come true, I have to know my own.
There's still a lot of work to be had but I'm feeling hopeful and grateful...