Being A Victim

Being a Victim

The other day I was up at the chemotherapy ward. I had a pleasant conversation with a 61 year old man. 11 years ago, he was diagnosed with Pulmonary Fibrosis. In spite of being ill he had a great attitude. He had these words of wisdom:

“If you find yourself asking: Why me? Change the question to: Why not me?”

 

I chose to share this today because it’s a reminder of a few things:

 

1. We aren’t alone in our pain and suffering

2. We are all equal

3. The Universe is benevolent; or at least neutral

4. Anything can happen

5. Making the most of NOW is the best thing to do

 

Really, you are not a victim. If you are, then we all are.

A friend of mine who is a pastor often says, “But for the grace of God, there go I.” What does that mean? It means that despite what we want and despite all our efforts, we can end up in any situation – for better or for the worst.

I know I am speaking to a broad audience. I imagine some of you are, objectively, fairly healthy. On the other hand, I imagine that some of you are in constant pain. What do you have in common? Everything!

There will be times of life when you can be the helper, and there will come a time when you need the help.

Open your heart to this reality and may you be touched with compassion for yourself and others.

Is Your Heart Open?

I imagine that somewhere in, what I presume to be an infinite multiverse, someone is looking through the windows of what, to us, is a closed down Blockbuster Video, and asking, “Is Your Heart Open?”

There are many magical ways to talk about the heart.  There are many great analogies and metaphors that bring us closer in our understanding of the heart and that open us to compassion.  Yet, I’ll look to the left and then to my right, and the world is still not a safe place.  To be nurtured it feels like we have to rig the game (of life).  It is as though, if we play our cards right we just might “enslave” a few people to care for us.

And there are some of us who want to care for others.  We think of caring as intrinsic to our worldview.  And there are others of us who don’t really care too much about it — maybe our lives are fairly independent and we’ve had a good deal of success (and we don’t want anyone else taking it away) or maybe we’ve been hurt so badly that to think of caring is to relive traumatic nightmares.

There are philosophies of the individual and philosophies of the collective.  We might be shaped by culture — political ideologies, religion, the sciences.  We might live in a part of the world that doesn’t do “hugs” or a part that does so many hugs that they are meaningless.

If you are alive, you are on some sort of journey.  I dare play the existential prophetic game.  I am sure we each have a unique path but there is some significance to the crossing of our paths.  How will we greet each other?  To what degree would you help, care about, and identify with your fellow traveller?  How open is your heart?

One of the beautiful things about the heart, is that it’s not prone to stay in middle states — it beats or it doesn’t, in other words.  Similarly, if we open our heart to live in a compassionate way, to say compassionate things, and have compassionate intentions, that open-heartedness beams full and bright.

Someone might say that they wish they could open their heart, but they just can’t.  So long as your living (and maybe even after your dead), you make the choice for this moment.  Can you define the three phases of a breath?  Inhale.  Pause.  Exhale.  That is a moment.  And if you can bring your attention to those three aspects of a single moment, you are further than many in your ability to open your heart.

The open heart is supple.  It is delighted easily.  It can take a lot of disappointment.  It is a giving entity.  It is a forgiving entity.  It doesn’t worry about who gets the last cookie, but cares only that everyone has had something sweet.

The open heart is soft.  It breathes quietly; sometimes deeply, sometimes not.  It’s eyes are seeing but not judging.

The open heart connects to our roots and to the sky.  If there is healing, it comes as a lightning bolt to the tip of our fingers.  If there is equanimity it wells up and supports us like a hundred year old oak.

Sometimes we pass over our own hearts.  We think that we are too damaged.  Too busy.  Too broken.  Too old.  Too young.  Too “normal”.  Too neurotic.  We aren’t one of the beautiful, rich people.  We might not be a nobel laureate.  We haven’t campaigned against land mines or given very much to Green Peace these days.  We might be sick; disabled; addicted; depressed.

Are you hurting somewhere in there, my friend?  Come on out.  Let a tear fall.  You too have a worthy heart.  You have much to give and in the course of this journey there are blessings to be had.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Loneliness: It is more complicated than that

lonely

The last time I left the apartment was twenty one days ago.  In that period of time I haven’t had any visitors.  I had one personal telephone call.  I did write quite a few emails.

Being an introvert is some sort of hipster trend these days.  I notice that places like Reddit promote a sort of “I am emo, but I am not” ego identity.  One way I see this phenomenon is that its popularity grows in proportion to the widespread reality that people do feel lonely — even whilst in a crowded room.

As a teenager, many years ago, I had a group of people I could be around.  Some of them were friends, most of them were merely being friendly.  Back then, and in the present, I always felt like I could only fit in so much.  At a certain point, I just felt tired and unloved and misunderstood.

You may have heard that there is a difference between being alone and being lonely.  I know this to be true.  It can be more complicated sometimes, though.  Sometimes, if you have a health condition, you can’t get out of being alone.  You can’t go to the party or make coffee shop dates.  Perhaps anxiety leaves you paralyzed in the middle of the grocery store and you just want to run.

Sometimes we have the luxury of choosing to be alone and sometimes we don’t control it.  But loneliness goes further.  Loneliness is a feeling you can have even if someone is holding you in a warm embrace.

There is a common misconception that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.  Maybe it is.  Maybe it isn’t.  The truth, for me, has been that loneliness isn’t squashed by something outside myself.  Still, my mind often insists that if so and so would just love and accept me and if I had friends, I would be happy and complete.  Deep down, this just is not true.

Maybe loneliness is really me not accepting me and me not loving myself.  It’s the “I wish I could love myself.”

I read a quote the other day that said, “there is no one on this earth that, if you heard their story, you couldn’t learn to love.”  Think about that.  How does it make you feel?  Maybe the starting point is simply to admit that one has the potential to learn to love oneself.

When we cannot accept ourselves, how can we accept others?  Let’s admit that this just might be the hardest work we might do in our lifetime.  Yet, as we open our hearts to others we see the good and the bad, and we see that we can accept them exactly as they are.  Love is an embracing of the whole package.  If we see this potential with the world outside of us, it must be true that it is equally applicable to the world within us.

Tomorrow, I am invited to a stranger’s birthday party.  At first I was shocked to be invited.  Then I felt happy.  Then I started to panic and had to do deep breathing.

Will I go?  I said yes, but a huge part of me wants to say no.  When the moment comes, I’ll make a choice one way or the other.  I accept that it might be an answer to my social needs but I also accept that sometimes I need to be gentle with myself and know that I don’t want to feel that overwhelmed.

“If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.” — Jack Kornfield

Perhaps loneliness is teaching a lesson to us.  What do you think?

lonelywalk

 

I Made The About Page

snoopytyping.jpg

I have just completed writing about myself and what this blog is going to be about.  Head on over to the ABOUT page and you can get filled in!

So, I’m assuming that you typed a certain keyword that brought you here.  Maybe it was something about mindfulness and inner peace or maybe it was something about the miraculous uses for apple cider vinegar in the day to day life of a professional clown.  Regardless, what matters to me is that you got here.

Do you ever look in the mirror and see the features of a relative?  Or, have you ever looked at a baby and said, “He has his father’s eyes”?

Have you ever felt a hunger pain and thought about people who have that same hunger pain in a disadvantaged part of the world?

Have you ever had an opinion about the cause of some senselessness you hear has happened?

The point I’m driving at is that of inter-connectedness.

You and I are connected with each other and every other person.  Further, we are connected with animals and nature.  We are a relational species.  This blog is a two way street — I relate to you, and you relate to me.  And in this moment we can share a bit of sanity and compassion.

I am not a perfect person.  I am not a guru or an author or some expert therapist.  I am a person who hurts physically and mentally.  By secular standards of success, I’m a complete failure!  And thank goodness for that — for through my searching and suffering I have  had moments of calm, moments of clarity, moments of contentment.  I have had horrible experiences, just as you have, and I’m hear to start a conversation.  Let’s begin a dialogue of the heart.

 

youaretheuniverse