It’s been a long time since I’ve written here, and much has changed since last we spoke. This past year brought with it profound change in my life and a renewed appreciation of it. Love manifested itself abundantly in the people, places, and events that I found along my journey, and the path continues to stretch gently into a sunny horizon. Fear, while ever present, has been muted by the joy and peace that binds my spirit to this world. I am loved. I am fearless. I am peace. I am me. I am now.
If necessity is the mother of invention, then trauma is its uncle. I’ve had my share of fuck-ups and suffering, albeit minor compared to those of many people. By an indescribable (and perhaps irrational) sense of faith and courage, I’ve walked away from the burning wreckage as peaceful and optimistic as ever. Ironically, the last time I passed through this state, I fell into the very trauma that brought me to this point in my life. Serious Yin Yang there.
Through all of my successes and failures, I’ve learned that the past and present do not define me; they are simply phases, facets, extensions of much more profound beings: me and now. Truth is only found in the moment in which I exist, nothing else - not my thoughts, ego, the judgment of others, the fears of the future, the regrets of the past.
Sometimes we need to die to ourselves to truly KNOW why we are sacred parts of an even greater whole. We need no justification or purpose other than the joy and peace of our own existence. Our egos tell us that we’re incomplete, but what more do we need other than to be? We’ve been blessed with bodies, minds, and spirits that give us the capacity for love, joy, and peace. If used properly, we can manifest unfathomable beauty in our lives and each others’.
God is the state of being that we collectively achieve if we act for the purpose of fulfilling each other’s innate potential for love, beauty, and creation.
When I feel down, I imagine losing something dear to me and the pain that comes with that loss. Chances are somebody in this world actually has experienced such loss and pain. I’m uplifted as a find new appreciation for my own situation. I don’t take pleasure in the suffering of others, but seeing it gives me perspective and paints my own life situation in a new light. Things can always be worse.
I am no more deserving of my life situation than someone who was born into great suffering. We’ve all been given the gift of life - some with more and some with less. Knowing this, I’m grateful and humble for what I have. When I gain more, it’s icing on the cake; when I have less, I’m giving back what was borrowed in the first place.
This summer was one of the most profound inflection points of my life. The details aren’t important, but the lessons are:
God is the Source of creation, Oneness, love, perfection. We are all sons and daughters of God, and we will all return to being one with God.
The ego enforces the illusion of our separation from God and each other, placing fear, inadequacy, and judgment in our thought systems.
In order to free ourselves from conditioned thought systems, we must first realize that our minds and bodies are tools through which we interpret and shape the physical world. These tools do not define who we truly are and can be wielded as we wish.
By changing the way we perceive the world, we can change the world. We can choose to look with either love or fear.
Resistance to pain produces suffering.
Catastrophe can be a door to enlightenment.
I had a really interesting conversation at lunch today. While my original intent was simply to network, we spent most of the time talking about our paths and the role that faith played in our lives. I then began to reflect on my path after I abandoned my relationship with God. It made me wonder if the challenges that I’ve experienced since then were related to that decision and my eventual denial of God’s existence. I never noticed the correlation until now, but it’s an interesting thought.
It was a wonderful weekend in Montreal, as family and friends gathered to celebrate Jennifer and Jason’s big day. The warm, sunny weather and the old city made a beautiful backdrop for the occasion, which was filled with food, drinks, smiles, and photo ops. I hadn’t seen many of my relatives, including Jason, in over a decade, so I enjoyed catching up with them. It was fun to see how much we had all changed, yet stayed the same after all these years. Jennifer and her clan were really chill, and it was great getting to know them. I hope it’s not too long before we’re all together again.
Yesterday’s visit to the National Portrait Gallery and American Art Museum was refreshing. Despite growing up in the D.C. area, I rarely took advantage of the opportunity to enjoy the Smithsonian and other collections. My last visit to a museum was years ago.
This time, I rediscovered an appreciation not only for fine art, but for the process of exploring a museum. There was a peaceful, healing quality in pacing slowly through the galleries, pausing to inspect and admire a piece, and contemplating the numerous elements and qualities that combined to make each piece a work of art. It didn’t matter how much time was spent, as I drifted from one moment of awe and wonder to the next. It’s nice to stop and smell the roses.
A thought to the mind is like a match to a tank of gas. It’s surprisingly difficult to keep my mind off of thoughts. Once a thought gets in my head, it isn’t long before I’m churning through thought after thought, like I’m channel-surfing. Thinking is such a strong compulsion, even stronger than eating perhaps. I eat when I’m hungry, but I’m always thinking, even when there’s no use for it. I’ve realized that this can lead to stress and even dysfunction, if left unchecked.
When I consciously listen for silence, even in the presence of noise, my mind becomes quiet. The sound of silence can be quite “loud,” in the sense that once I’ve tuned in to it, it completely occupies my attention. Words can hardly describe the feeling. I’ve been practicing listening for silence during my meditations, although it only works in stopping my thoughts for short periods of time. Hopefully, it’ll get easier with practice.