Now

Through great suffering comes great understanding. 

Our responsibility now is to do something with it.

Not Loving the Plateau Right Now

Full confession…I’m not a very good student. That is, the student that puts in his time; puts in the practice and hones the material. Rather, I am addicted to the discovery, the cognitive leaps. Synapses that bring about thrilling insights and discoveries. But as with any addiction, the short-term reward is increasingly followed by a long-term deleterious effect – malaise.

Salvation comes in the form of doing the work. Of practice and routine in doing something over, and over, and over until the beauty of the practice emerges. But one must work through the ugliness and discomfort first – the plateau that seems to go forever.

“What you resist, persists, Rick.”

I wince when I remember these wise words shared with me at a younger and blissfully more ignorant age. And yet there is grace even in this moment of truth. To choose action is a moment of Creation. And the only question left to answer is, “will Creation be honored with the action that follows?”

Screaming at God (or why I don’t write when I am happy)

It’s easier

when it’s just me

When it’s just the sound of my voice,

in between the distractions,

to remind me

that God is listening,

and occasionally asks,

“What do you have to say for yourself?”

It’s 3:10 am and the dogs have woken me up this morning barking at the east winds that buffet the house. The house creaks more these days, just like my knees. I yell at the dogs and burrow under the warm covers, knowing sleep will not come back this morning. My mind is up and wandering. I give thanks for another day and roll out of bed, surrendering my place beside Teresa. She murmers something unintelligible and annexes my warm spot. She can sleep for ten hours a night. I’d sooner win the lottery than this mind of mine allowing me that kind of slumber.

Fuck you! I want to shout (with a nanosecond of hesitation)

“How did you think it would be?” God said.

“Different than this,” I said.

“Different better, or different worse?” she said.

“Just different,” I said.

Or better, I guess.”

The questions come abundantly this time of the morning. The answers, not so much. At least, not new answers as I reflect on a conversation with a friend last week. I spoke a brutal truth to him. It surprised both of us and hit him in a vulnerable place.

“I don’t trust you,” I said.

His eyes screamed #backstabbingmotherfucker, though what he said was much more diplomatic.

“I thought I would have more to show for my sacrifices,” I said.

“There are no guarantees,” she said. “But only that which you believe to be true.”

I mimic the refrain in a petulant voice, having heard it many times before.

I can be such an asshole.

“What is it that you want?” she said.

I thought carefully this time. More so than before at least.

“To know what I do matters. And that it helps in big ways, and small.”

I don’t know how to feel. I am full of don’t-know-how-to-feel’s. All I know is it needed to be said. I needed to say it. Whether he needed to hear it is up to him. He may not have heard it. He may have heard something else, no different that what often I hear is my own mis-translation of what others say to me. Convoluted by my own projection of uncertainty, inadequacy, or a plethora of other nouns.

“You have all those things,” she said. “So, what is the problem?”

I don’t know what to say.

“You have chosen your path,” she continues.

“One does not walk through the unbroken brush unscathed.”

“When does it get easier?” I said, the emotion at my throat.

“In time, you will reach the clearing. For now, you must embrace the purpose for how you travel. For that is my gift to you, and is what gives meaning to your story.”

It Just Is

I have this habit of wanting clear explanations for things when they don’t work out. The problem with that mindset is that often times there are no explanations.

It just is.

And that is the hardest reality for me to accept because it reminds me that I have little control over what happens to me. Or to those I love and care about. Or to anyone for that matter.

It just is.

Tolkien knew this well:

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.

“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

Oh, that I could have this perspective in the moment. No, rather, I allow myself to be drawn into the drama of not seeing things for as they are, but wishing they were otherwise, tantrums and all.

And it gets worse.

When the reality of the situation is exacerbated by my reaction to it. Like icing on the cake. Perhaps this is God’s way of showing me the old self I must learn to leave behind before I am finished here. The little me.

Until then, I am tethered to him like conjoined twins. Where he goes, I go. Where I go, he goes.

What a lovely pair we make.