Guys, it has recently come to my attention that summer is almost over. Last night it got down to 5 degrees, and my stepkid starts school in a week. Where did it all go?
I’ve been my typical goal-oriented self all summer, and boy did I ever fill my plate in August. All would be well, except I’m also hitting another chrysalis cycle in the spiral, and I’m turning inward to see what kind of new changes I’m going to discover.
If you missed the last SILENT RETREAT!* I’ll tell you what it’s all about. Anyone can call SILENT RETREAT! anytime they don’t feel like participating, for whatever reason, and everyone understands that they don’t need to be taken care of, and no one is offended, but that person just takes some space. The reason SILENT RETREAT! is in all caps is because you are highly encouraged to shout it at the top of your lungs and then zoom around the room like a cat intent on breaking the sound barrier. Airplane sounds are cool too….
That’s because this is not a big deal! I know people seem to equate personal growth with torturous aerobics and a “If it doesn’t hurt you’re not trying hard enough” mentality, but guys— This is what we’re here on earth to do. Grow.
Since I’m on the subject….
I’ve never had an existential crisis, like a lot of people who apparently spend too much time in their head. I’ve also never understood the Buddhist philosophy of destroying the ego. And the New-Agey philosophy of negating all things negative is downright dangerous, because it creates people who are willfully blind. Oy.
It’s always been apparent to me that I’m here to experience life. Always. That doesn’t mean I need to jet-set, scale Kilimanjaro, deep-sea dive, or anything. It just means I need to be present in whatever I’m doing, and do it to the best of my ability, and to be careful not to get caught in the invisible bubble of inhibitions that keep me from experiencing things fully.
What happens when you do that is that everything becomes really, really, cool, and really, really, interesting. It’s not always pleasant, but it’s always invigorating.
I think that’s where people start to focus on the positive and denigrate the negative—they think it’s a kind of shortcut to enlightenment and eternal joy. It’s not, but it’s easy to see how it could be. The problem is that if you can’t deal with negativity with compassion and understanding, and instead choose to ignore, minimalize, or denigrate, you’ve just set yourself in opposition to that negativity.
And again, it’s not immediately clear why that’s a problem. But you see, when you set to things in opposition to each other, you create a tension between them. Choosing between them is competitive: I want to be all sweetness and light, but I also want that son-of-a-bitch to pay. And you start to think in terms of choosing between your good side and your bad side.
But really, there’s no tension between wanting to be a noble person and wanting the scales to adjust to your idea of fairness. Those two things coexist with ease. But it does make your choice of action a bit harder, because just wanting those two things is fine. But the actions they entail don’t square up– — — and so you have to choose.
And, you get to choose all the time. It’s not a set it and forget it thing. Even the Dalai Lama has to choose, day by day, to react with words and deeds of compassion and forgiveness.
But that’s the fun part! Because life is like a choose-your-own-adventure that way.
…But, to get back to what I was saying…
As much as I love talking to you guys, I’m going on SILENT RETREAT! to facilitate this most recent transformation. (Why this always sneaks up on me when I’m at my busiest, I’ll never know) But I plan to be back by Labour Day (September 4), if not sooner, depending on how this skin-shift goes.
Love and smooches,
*Hat-tip to Havi Brooks for the concept