“When you realize how perfect everything is you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky.” – Buddha
In a flash of insight I am brought back to the teachings of Buddhism that I was so deeply practicing in the first many months of my greatest heartache. I remember Dr. Cross saying that I have to stop looking outside myself for approval, a notion echoed only a few days ago by the Pirate, who said, I am always saying “notice me, pay attention to me, love me” by my words and actions. It may seem mean or cruel but the way he said it, I could only say, yeah, that is so true. I do that. Dr. Cross said that I needed to turn inward and start to find my own way, to find acceptance from within myself, to find my “laughing place”, my place of joy.
There has been this arching emotion for me, I am finding it difficult to express what the actual feeling is, what it stems from and how I got here. It is a sense that everything is falling into place just exactly as it was meant to. That feeling is a feeling that seems to come from a number of events, sign posts, and signals, that have been hovering swirling in my life. It feels almost as though I have been hiking up a very shadowy, dark and dense path, and suddenly I have emerged on the rocky surface and can see just exactly where I came from. Like any mountain top, I will continue on and I know there will be valleys, and rushing rivers, and my view will be obstructed once again, but for right now, alot of “shit” is really making sense to the grand and general scheme of my life.
I kept saying I don’t want to compare the Pirate, but I cannot help it, the comparison is so rich, so deeply meaningful to me, that it is hard to express it really in terms that anyone can understand, but here is where that insightful flash happens. How can I express what is happening to me, how this is working in my life and then Kaboom. I see.
It is not that there is a need to compare this shining gem, to that meager fruit, it is that I am seeing myself lit from the inside. It is the comparison of me now to that me that was before. It is not an approval from without, it is an approval from within. It is not that the Pirate approves of me and the other did not, it is that I approve of myself. I accept myself.
When I was in that terrible place, keeping the path as my metaphor, the quick sand, swampy, off course, basically lost, bushwhack brambly place, I returned to the Zen Center of Syracuse to meditate formally, to do yoga twice weekly, and to attend group stress reduction classes once a week, along with volunteering at the Zen Center as part of my practice. More than one person was telling me that I should take medication, but I knew what I was doing, and when I checked it with Dr. Cross, he confirmed my assertion that I was taking “medication”, meditation medication. I am not sure how it is for other people but for me, this was what I needed, and so grateful, in retrospect that I did not take drugs. Ultimately because the insight that I now have is invaluable, and the clarity of what has transpired is so brilliant and crystal that I do not imagine I would have gotten this view under the influence. But right now I can see so succinctly how important that internal work was to managing my heartbreak, to getting to this place I am right now. One of the things that Buddhism teaches you is that you are not alone, and the realization of that is also truly important to being in this place right now. Because for many years I was removed from the friendships I had built earlier in my life, and removed from most of my family, and removed from the authenticity of myself.
Reconnecting to long out of contact relatives on Facebook was vital to this rebuilding process that began for me when I was hammered apart and left for the dead. This morning a college friend who is going through some medical problems expressed what I have been thinking too, that Facebook allowing her to reconnect with our college group, has been so important to her, she was asking us (specifically the college friends) to keep her in our thoughts, and the outpouring of genuine caring from so many of us was just exactly what I am speaking of. I know people make fun of “Crackbook”, and in the end it is truly just another corporate marketing ploy, but on many levels has been a part of my recovery. Oh yes, I do have people that love me, that are like me, that think like me, that talk like me, and yes those that don’t and that is okay.
The me that was left? She was always concerned about what the other thought, did he love me, were my clothes right (they never were and again I told Dr. Cross late in our sessions, why do I dress better now than when I was married, why now when he isn’t all judging me? His answer, if you know someone is going to judge you negatively you live up to their expectations). If I don’t put texture in my paintings it is not grounds for disapproval, if I burp after a big drink of beer, it is not grounds for not being spoken to, that I don’t feel a need to have some smirking approval of some random bit of flotsam. I am fine just as I am. My work (painting, knitting, drawing, writing, walking, photographing) is fine just as it is. The only person judging me, in my leggings and dress, in my outdoorsy shoes, is me. And again ironically I think I look better than I ever have in my life. Truly. And yes I still feel a little guilty that I have sewed a stuffed animal in a few months, but then I remind myself, yes dear but you have written almost every day. What of that?
Here from this mountain top view, I see that all of my life has led me to this place, and that it is all so very perfect. That brambly, lost, quicksand path? I was actually on it, and I literally got down on my knees and prayed in the middle of the woods, because I was lost, the sign posts were blown down, and I had turned around after stepping knee deep in the quicksand. The strength and growth of my teaching has been just blowing me away. Reconnecting with those friends from college, my cousins and my uncles, realizing that those who melted away are not in my lives for a reason. And finding that it isn’t just about my painting, but the intense pleasure I get from writing too, that I am not just a painter, but an artist, all around not a fabulous money maker, but an artist by my very nature. All of these realizations are right here in the palm of my hand. It is not the pearl of my deepest self, it is instead a shining golden ambrosia that pours out of me into my cupped hand, that drips like thick oil from my fingertips.
I am so thankful, not just for the difficulty of this path, but just now for the clarity I have from this vantage point.