Saturday, January 22, 2011

Mother Nature's Mess

My great grandmother used to say before cleaning the house: “Lets make the happy home look miserable!” It was her belief that a happy home is a well lived home which means cooking, entertaining, relaxing and other mess making activities. She still had her WWII black-out curtains up in the mid-80’s, it never occurred to her to switch them; they were perfectly good curtains!

My favourite homes are always those that seem to have grown out of the earth, as if Mother Nature herself placed every item on the window ledge. I can always tell within minutes of entering a space whether this place was decorated to match a colour scheme or authentically and gradually filled with belongings holding significance from some chance encounter on a meaningful adventure. And if it sounds like I am making a value judgment here, its probably because I am.

It is a core belief of mine that a person’s home is their sanctuary, not their trophy. When I see perfectly matched picture frames holding stock photos of beach scenes I get worried for the soul of the person living that manicured life. I wonder if one day they are going to come apart at the seams. Those homes represent to me the idea of living life for other people, rather that for the joy of living it. How can you go out one day and buy a life off a show room floor? It strikes me as totally inauthentic. And a lot of people are living in-authentically, not because they are bad people but because they are scared people.

Learning to let oneself unravel enough to hear the call of the soul is a long and painful and all consuming journey. Why step out on your own to find out who you are when you could find a perfectly packaged exterior right here in this handy catalogue?! It’s easier to pick a persona based on what’s popular than to dig deep and trust that what comes up is beautiful and valid in its own right.

The thing is: it always is beautiful and valid. We are changing, wandering, strange magnificent beings and we are almost always trying too hard to be what we already are. The creative types who have to have a heady Russian novel peaking out of their patch covered satchel are playing the same game as the stock broker who leaves his door ajar while on the phone to important clients so everyone can hear how powerful he is. Relax guys; you are far more creative and far more powerful than the two-dimensional fa├žade you are strangling yourselves with.

But along with our creativity, power, magnificence and beauty comes our humanness. And there is no point in truth telling, in soul searching, if you’re not going to bear witness to it all. The perfection is in the jagged edges, and you’re missing the best parts if you skip the fragility and run straight to strength. This is what deters most people from seeking; they are afraid of what they will find. “I’m afraid I won’t like what I see” is what most people say when provoked to look into the mirror into their own eyes. And the painful real and sacred answer is: some of it you probably won’t like.

There is this notion out there that enlightenment means one has transformed into a perfect being. Wouldn’t that be nice?! I bet you a million dollars that when Buddha achieved enlightenment under the bodhi tree he still had to cut his toenails. I bet you Mother Theresa had cellulite. And I bet you that along the way to attaining the state of surrender necessary to sacrifice himself on the cross, Jesus had insecurities about his potential shortcomings as a man and leader. They just don’t tell you those bits.

And all of this only adds to the glory of these incredible human beings. These people felt the fear and did it anyway; they transcended their attachment to an idea of perfection and lived the truth of who they were and what they were called to do. Enlightenment, to me, is complete immersion in the present moment released from either fear or expectation of what it may yield. Self-love is the only lesson worth learning. And the greatest act of self love is to fully immerse oneself in the present moment so much so that one forgets who it is that is experiencing it and is free to explore themselves in a context unbound by past experiences or future projections. To lose oneself is to free oneself. And the only way we can get that deliciously lost is to love what we are, every last weird little cell. There's no room for self-deprecating baggage down the rabbit hole.

A forest doesn’t grow the way it grows to please your eyes when you walk through it. The wind rustles the trees sometimes smacking branches to the ground, birds build nests where they see fit, rivers rise and fall with the seasons and the rains, blossoms respond to temperature and moisture, mushrooms grow in all directions, fallen trees make ideal environments for ferns and other flora, rocks amass over millennia to come to be where they are today and never once does Mother Nature ask what it’ll look like when its done. It will never be done. It is Mother Nature’s mess, and there is a lot we can learn about ourselves in that mess.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Happy Blue Monday Everyone!

I’ve read a lot on ‘positive thinking’, on ‘choosing the thoughts you think’ and on ‘controlling the extent to which you react emotionally to a given situation’. And although I like to think of myself as somewhat educated and well practiced on these subjects, lets be honest: sometimes we just feel crappy. And we know we are being silly, we know we are the lucky ones: healthy bodies, opportunities, safe environments, but still the pile of mental anguish we need to conquer seems insurmountable.

Maybe I’m getting my period…. Or MAYBE I’m reacting to what the always-fantastical news headlines are calling: Blue Monday, the most statistically depressing day of the year. WHAT!? How do they come up with this shit?! How do you measure something like that? I’d like to know… because I think they might be right! That must be one helluva survey…

I have been on the phone today with more bureaucratic institutions than anyone should ever have to interact with in a lifetime. The line at the post office was 10 people long (I didn’t know 10 people lived in this sleepy little town!). Apparently they don’t sell envelopes in quantities of less than 50 (I’m just trying to send a few letters, not OPEN A POST OFFICE OF MY OWN!). I am in the middle of doing two year’s worth of taxes. I just booked an appointment to get a tetanus shot (my arm hurts just thinking about it). I am currently unemployed and have taken to recycling cans as a source of income (incase you were wondering, it is very smelly and not very lucrative). I am 5,000 kilometers away from the man I love and we are 6-9 months and 5-7 thousands dollars away from legally being allowed to wake up next to each other. Yeah. I’d call that a Blue Monday.

PS. But I swear to god I am really grateful to be alive. No, seriously. I am. Deep down. Deep, deep, deep, deep down under the layers of it's-January-and-I-want-to-puke-on-myself-and-lie-in-it feelings.

PPS. Too much?