answered prayers

Life is funny. It’s also amazing and beautiful. I think that when we don’t focus upon beauty, it’s harder to notice it in all the nuance of living. To focus upon something is to notice it more often. And, just because you’re noticing something now doesn’t mean it wasn’t always there. Attention is a gift that we get to use as we wish.

I’m going through a phase of maturity. It’s funny how we talk about that with kids, but we don’t discuss it with adults. We love watching children mature and we expect it, but when it comes to adults, we expect the opposite. We expect stagnation. Long, long years of stagnation until, suddenly, the adult is “old” and we expect them to have gained wisdom worth sharing with us.

What is wisdom but the result of maturity?

I made two prayers in deep earnest this past week and I’m glad I have the clarity to see that they’re being answered. It used to be that I would pray and then spend time feeling despondent because I thought my prayers were being ignored. Back then, I didn’t understand that answered prayers don’t always look the way you want or expect them to look. I mistakenly assumed that if a prayer wasn’t answered the way I wanted to see it, that meant it hadn’t been answered.

Part of maturing is understanding then accepting that things don’t have to be the way you want them in order for them to be true.

I think our societies and cultures are going through a maturation phase right now and I’m not sure how we’re faring. There is a lot of pushback against progressive, humane ideas and there is also a lot of nonsense being promoted as progress. Diversity of thought is still one of the things I find most interesting about humanity. No one is creating these things we call thoughts or ideas; they just descend upon us. And, we nurture them and take their growth and assimilation very personal. But, they don’t even belong to us!

Maybe our maturity doesn’t belong to us, either. Maybe maturity is a function of grace. I can accept that all I’ve done is prayed to be a better person, to have more clarity. I just desired and asked and focused. I accept that I haven’t done anything wholly unto myself.

That is maturity. Accepting that we aren’t living this life by our power alone is maturity. It’s humility. I used to think humility meant thinking I am less than, but now I know it simply means knowing that I am not all there is, that I am not the most. And, not being the most does not inherently equate to being less than.

For years, I could not understand or accept that. But, through grace, I now understand (and I don’t mind understanding or standing under something, because I know the power of bridges) and accept that humility is about perspective, not size.

With that humility, I can see answered prayers with more clarity. When I ask for support focusing upon my business endeavors and an opportunity for community disappears from my life, I don’t have to lament the loss because I remember the prayer. I am humble enough to accept the rationale that the more time I spend in community, the less time I’m spending on my business endeavors. I can greet that shift (because it’s not a loss) with a “Hallelujah”.

With that humility, when I ask to more fully understand why something happened to me in the past and I keep feeling the urge to watch YouTube videos that touch on more fruitful ways to move through loss and purpose, I understand that my prayers are being answered.

Some would call it coincidence, but I’ve lived enough to accept that there are no coincidences. There is only grace.

In this moment, I appreciate the divine guidance of my life. I appreciate the prayers that have been prayed for and over me. I appreciate the clarity and insight and maturity and humility I have been able to apply to my vantage point.

What a beautiful lens grace and humility and maturity create. It reminds me of those oft-lamented rose-colored glasses.

If this is what wearing rose-colored glasses is like, I’m okay. I’m going to rock these babies!

Image source unknown.

permission to disagree

The internet is a fascinating space full of thoughts. Thoughts and ideas of all sorts abound on the internet, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the comment sections.

I love comment sections, but I have to be in the mood to peruse them. I have to know myself and be content within my current emotional state in order to handle the comment sections with any finesse and grace.

Comment sections are the canvas of your global asshole’s pièce de résistance. You can find so much underbelly in the comment sections. But, underbelly makes the best bacon.

Bacon is a great euphemism for how we all manage our cultural differences. Pork bacon is controversial on the global front. Those who live in their own cultural bubbles may not realize it, but a great number of humans have never eaten pork bacon. For those in those cultural bubbles, pork bacon is the standard. Until turkey bacon was a thing, folks who eat pork probably had no idea there were other sorts of bacon.

I grew up eating beef bacon and I maintain that pork bacon can never compare. Pork bacon is too salty and too wasteful. It’s mostly fat and don’t we all know that the body stores toxins in fat? And, that pigs are literally fed anything? Most pork bacon stinks when you cook it. I rarely buy it, but when I do, I only buy organic pork bacon. It doesn’t stink up my house and it tastes a lot better.

It’s also expensive. Turns out, treating pigs like living beings worthy of the best life has to offer (if you can obtain the best within captivity) is not popular among the folks who eat them. I have grown to see that you can tell a lot about a pork-eating people by the way they treat their pigs. If their pigs are used as corpulent dumpsters, you know what kind of value system you’re working within. It will tell you a lot about their society.

I don’t want that pork bacon to be the standard for anything. Do you?

Christians are not, technically, supposed to eat pork, but you can’t tell that by looking in most of their refrigerators. Then, there are cultural Jews, ethnic Jews, and religious Jews. They all have the pork conversation. (I don’t know what happened to the Hebrews.) And, Muslims, of course, don’t eat pork. Except when they hang around Christians too much. And, try to be too American.

Pork is an entire thing, is my point.

One of my favorite things about Zen Buddhists is that they don’t eat meat… unless it’s offered. Like, there’s an entire vegetarian expectation, but if you’re not the one killing or buying the animal flesh, don’t be too picky. Some religions would have you believe you’re going to suffer through all eternity if you don’t follow the dietary dictates. Zen Buddhists are like “calm your tits”. Around food, anyway. Still not okay for the monks to touch a woman.

So much disagreement among humans about what’s most important, isn’t there? Isn’t it beautiful?

I find it nourishing and humbling and gorgeous that there is so much variety of thought and behavior among human beings. “Harm none and do what you will” is a completely ridiculous notion, but it’s the guiding notion of many of us.

We are all harming someone. Most often, ourselves.

And, that’s okay. I think to accept that you, a human being, are a harmful entity no matter how much you attempt not to be can be a realization of freedom. But, that, too, is dependent upon personal stance. Some of us thoroughly enjoy being hard on ourselves. We don’t like giving ourselves grace.

As someone who enjoys freedom, I’ve come to respect restriction. I’ve come to accept that sometimes, expansion feels overwhelming and people need walls to feel comfortable and safe. The rules and strictures we apply to our lives are a skin. Some of us shed our skin regularly. Some of us remain small. Some of us simply add more skin as we grow.

One of my favorite lines in a song can be found in Christian rapper KB’s song I Am Not the One. He says, “It ain’t a thick skin, it’s a new heart.” I have found that the nuance of that line is where I have landed. In comments sections, in deli sections, in relative time and space, I have learned that the skin is less important than the heart. If the heart is calibrated correctly, the skin becomes less of an issue.

With that heart, disagreement becomes a pleasure, an example of how beautifully diverse we are. I don’t need or want your agreement; I want to know your heart.

No matter where we stand on the question of pork bacon, we all have hearts. I love to see even the closed ones. Don’t you?

my new religion

Once, I received a religious pamphlet. I looked at it, read it, and wondered how the world would be different if we pushed a different kind of religion onto one another. Rather than a religion that uses shame to mold us into a diminutive version of ourselves, a religion that uses truth to expand and fill us. I imagine the pamphlet would say something like:

1- You Are Perfect

Everything you do is for the benefit of yourself and others.
Every thought you think is wise and full of creative power.
Your heart is loving and following it is never wrong.
You are a righteous being, even when you don’t realize it.


2- You Are Strong

Every step you take, every move you make is the correct one.
It will take you where you want to go.
You can make all your dreams come true.
No one can stop you from being who and what you want to be.
Persevere when you feel challenged.
Rest when you feel challenged.
When you stop moving, that is the right time for stillness.
To recognize the desire for rest is strength.
To take a rest is strength.
To move is strength.
To not move is strength.
There is only strength.


3- We Are Here for Each Other

There are many of us here so that we can work together.
We are here to provide for each other.
We are here to comfort each other.
We are here because we all have needs 
and our number one need is for each other.
Sometimes we will be together in motion.
Sometimes we will be together in silence.
Sometimes we will be together in distance.
When one gets up, another sits down.
We create this world together and we are all vital to this life.


4- We Promise to Meet Our Needs

When one is hungry, we will provide food.
When one is cold, we will provide warmth.
When one is lonely, we will provide companionship.
Whatever anyone needs, we will provide.
That is why there are so many of us: 
to meet everyone’s needs in a variety of ways.
Together, we have enough to meet the needs of all of us.
We exist for each other.  

Rejoicing in our joy, not suffering over our suffering, is what makes someone a friend. ~Friedrich Nietzsche~

parenthesis

you are

the mango

and

the tree,

the fruit

and

the fruiting,

the juice

and

the pulp.

you are

the roots

and

the soil,

the water

and

the thirst,

the tree

and

the grove.

(do not)

let us pull you from yourself,

divining your essence while

disposing your vessel

(do not)

let us bask in your glory while

denying your rights

(do not)

let us light our way with your brilliance while

casting you into the shadows.

you are

the before

and

the after,

the now

and

the then,

the beginning

and

the forever.

(do not)

let us in.

your mission, should you choose to accept it

Right now is an important time in our collective experience. This planet needs to be guided by those who are rooted in and growing in Love. There is a peace and an awareness that comes on the energy of Love, because Love is the only real truth. Love defies reason, has no explanation. Love simply is.

If you know this, if you live in this awareness, it is time to level up. It’s easy to level up in Love. Love does all the work.

Remember that you are simply a conduit in this world. You are the temple within which Love is stored and the point of storage is so that something is contained until the one storing it comes back to bring it back out, again.

Love stored is almost pointless. Love exists to spread like an invasive species. Love exists to cover and enmesh everything it touches. Love is like the most pervasive and contagious virus in existence.

But, it doesn’t make you sick. Quite the opposite. It heals everything it touches. Love is the healing vibration. Love is the awakening energy. Love is the clarifying touch. Love is truth.

Your job, as a contagious sort, full to the brim with this Love energy, is to spread Love far and wide. To fling it to the farthest reaches of the planet, of the universe, of the multiverse.

That’s your single job as a human being.

Here is a game to play, to help you realize the power of Love.

Sit quietly, holding someone else’s hands. Form a circle if there are enough of you. Everyone does the following:

Close your eyes and envision a white light coming from your heart and your mind. This white light represents Love.

Imagine that light spreading. It’s spreading within your body. Now, it’s leaking outside your body. Now, it’s surrounding your body.

Now, the light is spreading out into the space around your body. Think for a moment of everyone you’ve ever known, ever seen, even the folks you don’t remember.

See those people in your mind’s eye. See the web connecting you to them. Send the light into that web, into everyone connected to that web.

Send a message with the light: You are loved. Raise your vibration. It is time to raise your vibration and spread Love.

Hold that thinking for as long as possible or desired as a group. When you’re ready to stop, just open your eyes and go about your life.

your last breath

You breathe without awareness most of the time.

What if you took the time to breathe mindfully?

When you inhale, you try to fill your belly with air. Like a balloon.

When you exhale, you deflate your belly.

You close your eyes and repeat this short, short sequence. You place your hands over your heart and repeat this short, short sequence.

You are breathing your last breath.

Now, you’re breathing your last breath, again.

And, again.

And, again.

Now, you remember how good it feels to be alive.

false humility is a crime

If you’re a good person, just admit it. No one really cares.

This is what I’ve learned in life: the only people who are judging you by how good you are are the messy folks. And, they only judge you because they feel so horrible about themselves.

When they start cleaning themselves up, they judge you less.

Other good people just like being around you. They probably haven’t even had a coherent thought about your goodness, yet. They just feel good when they’re around you and that’s a good thing. It can be scary out there with all the people.

I don’t like it when good people can’t admit that they’re good people. There’s always a discussion about it and a kind of embarrassment. Why? We’re supposed to be good. It’s not exceptional, it’s the human default.

I think people tend to confuse goodness with perfection. No one is claiming that, I hope. I’m certainly not. I’m a good person. Why? Because I want the best for everyone, I tend to have good intentions, and I enjoy helping folks.

I’m just a basic human.

You can find these characteristics and tendencies in your normal 2-year-old. There’s absolutely nothing spectacular about being a good person, so I feel unable to get a big head about this.

It says a lot about what we have been programmed toward that we think goodness needs to be celebrated. Basic human decency has become a limited commodity.

Because we have normalized inhumanity, we find true humanity awe-inspiring.

Does that make sense?

Nope. Doesn’t make sense, at all. But, that’s what we’ve created: a world in which we think being bad is normal and being good is not as normal.

Both are normal, but we are training ourselves to look for the bad more than the good.

It probably started with our parents. They pointed out things we shouldn’t do. We had to pay attention to that. Some scientists will tell you this is human nature, to be more mindful of what’s bad. I don’t think they’re correct. Just because something is a statistical norm and people talk and write about it often doesn’t mean it’s human nature.

But, kids tend to want to please their adults. So, we were kids and we wanted to please our adults and because we weren’t perfect for your typical capitalist or patriarchal model of living, adults pointed out ways we needed to improve.

Some kids take that a lot harder than others. Some adults are harsher about it than necessary. Sometimes, you get a combination: really sensitive kid with really harsh adult. That’s a combustible combo.

But, it happens.

And, it also happens in a kind of reverse. We get those really sensitive adults who are quite horrible at providing appropriate boundaries. The kids in their lives could benefit from more rigidity and less fluidity, but they can’t bring themselves to provide it. And, if you get that kind of adult raising a really strong-willed kid, who knows what can happen? (Assholes, generally, but it’s all a crap shoot.)

One thing I enjoy about assholes (while we’re on the topic) is that they tend to lack humility. I find that refreshing. I enjoy people who just are who they are. However, that is also a tendency I dislike, because a lack of humility is often coupled with a lack of empathy. I don’t enjoy that.

What I had to learn was that what I really didn’t enjoy was false humility. Real humility, genuine humility is beautiful. People who know they aren’t the most important aspect of life, who know there’s a lot of mystery to living… I enjoy that. And, that’s all humility is.

False humility is what I see when people can’t accept any accolades for their amazingness. We should be able to celebrate one another because we are, each one of us, absolutely amazing! Our bodies are amazing, our minds are amazing, our abilities are amazing. Why would we choose to never acknowledge that? Especially when we live in societies and cultures that want us to dislike ourselves and mold ourselves to unnatural expectations?

Just because you’re not “that special” doesn’t mean that you’re not special at all. Of course you’re special! You are a mystery in the flesh. How did you even become you when all you began as was a clot of blood? Look at you… blood all grown up.

Don’t downplay that. And, don’t let it go to your head. That’s real humility.

trust is truth turned inward

You can’t trust what you don’t know.

Most of us don’t know ourselves. We know what other people have told us about ourselves. We know what our families wanted from us. We know what society tells us to do. We know what our friends think about us.

But, most of us don’t know ourselves. And, you can’t trust what you don’t know.

Now, knowledge can be deceptive, so you shouldn’t believe everything you think you know. But, knowing yourself should be a pretty high life priority. You might lie to yourself about you. You probably do.

Here’s a popular lie many of us tell ourselves: I’m not a good person.

Can I tell you a secret?

.

.

.

.

.

.

You don’t have to be a good person. Being a good person is overrated. I was a good person for most of my life and folks just abused me because they were messed up and saw my goodness as something to possess. They thought close proximity to MY goodness would make THEM better somehow. It would make them acceptable. They used my goodness as a reason to tell themselves it was okay that they weren’t doing things they should have been doing.

But, if they had known how amazing they were INHERENTLY, none of that would have happened.

Being a good person is a good way to get screwed over by other people.

Lots of people realize this and they tell you that’s why you shouldn’t become a good person. But, that’s not what I’m going for here. I simply adore being a good person. It’s a lot of fun.

Just because some (lots?) of us are messed up, doesn’t mean I have to hate being a good person. I’m just stating that being a good person is not automatic insulation against the crap of other people. Crap comes. But, what do you do with it?

That’s where being a good person comes in handy. Because I’m a good person, I tend to compost it. Manure is great for gardening and I’m growing a lot of food.

Thankfully, I’ve stockpiled a lifetime of crap, so you can keep yours to yourself. But, if you’re not a good person, THAT’S OKAY.

Just do good stuff.

If you tend to do messed up stuff, doing good stuff will make you feel inordinately good about yourself and then you might stop doing crappy stuff. (This is where a good therapist can help. Changing poor habits into decent habits takes a lot of support and since you tended to do messy stuff, you might not have a lot of supportive people around you.)

But, if you’re just a normal person, doing good stuff will make you feel good and you’ll enjoy the feeling, so you’ll keep doing it. You might need to overcome laziness and the emotional bloat that comes with being too self-congratulatory, but, in the end, you’ll keep doing good stuff and you’ll find that you like yourself more.

That’s when you know you’ve tapped into the secret of all good people: Doing good feels good.

Most good people are selfish. We supremely enjoy the chemical sensations we derive from doing good and being happy. So, we strive to create lives that look and feel good and happy. Anyone can do this. It’s not a big deal. Some of us have been socialized (programmed) to be this way and some of us got this way despite how we were socialized.

It just feels good. Most people keep doing what feels good.

In my case, I derive a lot of good feeling from being logical. It makes more logical sense to be a good person than otherwise. I like feeling good, I like the people around me to feel good. Win-win. I prefer win-win situations over every other kind. Who wouldn’t?

Well, we live in a society (I’m talking about America, in particular) that says win-lose situations are not only better, but they’re really the only kind. It’s like a tradition. We get off on win-lose dynamics and we go into situations hoping we win and the other party loses.

That’s, like, our entire thing as a nation.

And, it’s self-defeating. If, by chance, we are usually winning, the other party is usually losing… which is only going to bite us in the butt in the end. Most people don’t like losing. Including us. And, if they feel they are losing too often, they start to feel badly about themselves, which causes them to stop thinking rationally. Or maybe they become hyper-rational. Anything to win!

This is how we get ALL social ills, by the way.

Hurt people hurt people. It’s a human law. A more forgettable human law among messier folks is that hurt people also help people.

You can’t know ahead of time what folks are going to do with their hurt. So, the best, most reasonable idea is to provide as little hurt as possible.

Everyone’s not a witch. Everyone can’t just snap their fingers and turn bad into good. That level of magic is easy to get to, but not everyone feels capable of getting there. Many of us simply hurl around what’s been given to us, and when we’ve been given hurt, we throw hurt around.

And, doing so just makes us feel badly about ourselves.

And, that leads to mistrusting ourselves.

Because, bad people can’t be trusted, can they? And, if you cannot trust yourself, all your relationships with other people are circumspect.

Many people think they have problems with other people, but they really have problems with themselves.

All our relationships are founded in our relationships with ourselves. If my relationship with myself is full of deception, antipathy, and fear, then all my other relationships will reflect that.

Now, I’m not promising you wonderfully amazing relationships once you clean up your relationship with yourself. People are messy. Relationships are largely unpredictable (unless you’re dealing with someone with some pretty intense personality problems). What I am promising you is this:

When your relationship with yourself is good and loving and kind, messy relationships kinda fall by the wayside. They’re not as prevalent in your life. Messy people tend to stay away from you. When the folks who like you are going through messy things, they try to keep the mess off you. (If you value the relationships, don’t let them. Let them feel what it’s like to know someone is there for them no-matter-what.)

The thing about having a good relationship with yourself is that everything feels easier. It’s not as hard to resist the desire to save other people. It’s simpler to be honest with everyone and recognize that sometimes the most honest thing to do is to shut your trap.

Everything in life just feels better when you trust yourself.

So many of us grapple with self-doubt and self-recrimination. We haven’t earned our own trust.

Today, go out and do something that shocks even you. Do something that truly leaves you open for intense scrutiny and possible condemnation, but that you know in your heart that you need to do in order to be true to yourself. Go out and do something that proves to yourself that you are your own best friend.

At the end of the day, you are the one yammering along inside your head.

You are the one keeping yourself awake with all that mercenary thinking.

You are the one feeling that intense anxiety every second of your life.

You are the one lying to yourself and telling yourself things will get better in spite of all evidence to the contrary.

You are the one refusing to walk in faith.

What is faith? Simply believing in something larger than yourself. And, folks have a difficult time doing that when they don’t even believe in themselves, yet.

Be authentic. And, when you’re not being authentic, be honest about that. Know why. Remind yourself of your inherent worth and value and goodness.

Because here’s another secret:

We’re all good. Some of us just have an easier time remembering it every day.

Yeah, I actually believe that.

Even the person who has done the most horrible things to others is actually a good person. They just got hurt. And, rather than healing they chose to keep hurting.

It happens.

We’re all good. We’re not perfect, just good.

And, folks… that’s good enough. When we trust ourselves and know ourselves, we’re fine with being good.