An Accounting

So much of my life has been based in want, lack of abundance, need.

This last week in an overwhelming moment of need and anxiety, I knelt along side my bed and prayed the simplest of prayers,

“God help me.  God help us.”

It felt a little dramatic.  My knees ached.  I got up slowly.  My body hasn’t been a temple.  Its been more of a dump.   Immediate feedback from the Almighty was a deafening silence.  I crawled into bed and fell into an exhausted sleep.

A few days forward and I awake before all others.  There are a hundred different tasks that await me but the call to sit and open myself up to listen to the Divine are too great.  I’ll feel guilty if I don’t comply.  This feeling opens into an abyss of obligation and responsibility.  Its weight presses on the top of my head.  My head throbs in reply.  My body isn’t a temple.  I am guilty.  Mea culpa.  Mea maxima culpa.

The memory of my recent knee-position plea to God for help surfaces with an unusual strength.  I felt a little silly then and I feel more silly now.  My noisy mind resists these moments of quiet.  It raises up an annoying static of negative self talk and recriminations.  Some times, my mind is a real drag.

Suddenly, one thought becomes crystal clear.  All this mind noise has been a huge distraction.  It creates a poverty within.  It fills me with unfulfilled desire, inadequacy and pain.  They are illusions.  The shift in my life that I’ve been praying and longing for isn’t something external.  It is a change in being.  The circumstances and events that have felt like burdens, like punishments, are vehicles of growth and change.  My life isn’t flawed.  I am not tragically flawed.   My perceptions have created limits, walls of misery.  My perception has been limited.  My life is filled with opportunity.

Desperately, I want to avoid the reality of this last sentence.  I squirm under the responsibility until I suddenly realize that this too is the product of faulty perception.  The ledger of my life won’t be filled with monetary entries outlining my lack and how I overspent.  No, my ledger will detail the economy of being.  What did I become when life provided me the opportunity for growth and development.  How did I deal with the challenges I encountered?  Did I expand or contract?

The barrier between me and who I want to be is largely illusion.  I keep showing up for this party in a tattered costume with a mask covering who I am.  No wonder I’m not having any fun.

On a sunny Sunday morning, in a sleepy peaceful silence, I receive a pure gift, a splinter of enlightenment.   I am enough.  Life awaits.

Thrive

 

“You cannot get sick enough to help sick people get better. You cannot get poor enough to help poor people thrive. It is only in your thriving that you have anything to offer anyone. If you’re wanting to be of an advantage to others, be as tapped in, turned in, turned on as you can possibly be.”

 

– Esther Abraham-Hicks

 

 

Ask me about not thriving and I can offer you a blue print.   Thriving is something that demands some attention and exploration.  Now that I’m certain what not thriving means, I’m ready to thrive.  I shall not thrive alone.  I have not suffered alone.  There are many like me and many who are not.  Yet, we are still bound together.

Living in a world full of happenstance, crisis and chaotic luck isn’t easy.  I look for causes and reasons and sometimes they don’t exist.  It’s easy to blame others.  It’s easy to blame myself.

Surprisingly,  I’ve discovered that some people also blame the down-on-their-luck types for their own troubles.  This is a slippery slope.  Blame doesn’t solve anything.  Compassion does.

Yesterday, I listened to someone blame the uninsured for their own problems.  For those of us living outside the boundaries of  “normal”,  options that others take for granted don’t exist for a huge variety of reasons   Most of those reasons have nothing to do with problems of our own making.

When I start worrying about what others are entitled to, I remind myself of the women coughing up blood in the “poor clinic.”   She was consistently refused treatment at the hospital and at the clinic and had spent 3 months going back and forth looking for help.  In between blood-filled coughs, she cried quietly.  I wanted to be repulsed but I could not.  It didn’t matter if she was a two-bit prostitute who was a heavy drug user.  In that moment she was a human being who needed care.  In my heart, it felt criminal to deny her this.

I don’t remember what I said to her.  I just knew that I had to make a human connection.  I had to remind her that some one cared and while I couldn’t fix her problems, I could acknowledge them and give her a few seconds of dignity and human respect.  That was several years ago.  I doubt she is still alive.

For me, the only path to thriving is found in a path that acknowledges and accepts the needs of others and that honors my need to be of service.  No one thrives in a vacuum.  We share our lives, our time on earth, with billions of other people, none of which will walk this way again.  The needs of others affects me.  They pull against the intricate web of life and whether I want to or not, I feel those tugs.

It isn’t my place to judge another’s worth and whether they are deserving of food or healthcare or. . .  Am I so good so pious that I deserve something that others do not?  Isn’t their need reason enough to reach out?  When Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes, did he feed some and not others?  No, he simply fed the hungry.

Some times I fear that people  get so bogged down in  their political opinions that they leave their humanity at the door.  We want to be right and we fail to be moral.   We justify our refusal to help by citing the abuses of the few.  We define the effectiveness of a system or a bureaucracy by what it fails to do.  We forget that nothing and no one is perfect and demand perfection in a world where it simply doesn’t exist.

I’ve wasted too many years trying to hide behind my imperfections, terrified that some one would see me for what I really am:  flawed, imperfect, some times selfish, judgmental, harshly critical.  When I turn that fear inside out and aim it at others, we all lose.  No one thrives, least of all, me.

To thrive, I need to keep my eyes wide open and my heart more open still.  I will never forget the rich soil of failure that cracked my life wide open and showed me a better way.    It’s time to thrive.  I won’t thrive alone.

I am the person behind the words printed here. I write because my heart will not allow me the option of NOT writing. It has taken me half a life time to discover this basic truth, but now that I have, writing is as natural as breathing. This is where my breath takes the form of words.

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The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM)
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