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Why I Became Physical

Sometimes I wish I was born as a wealthy princess, married to a handsome prince, and my only responsibility was to read books and go for walks. Sometimes I think if only things were a certain way then life would be so grand. But since that’s not my life, I’ve wanted to do as much good as I can, burn as many individual units of karma as possible, and get the heck out of dodge. Because the whole point of human life is to get to Heaven as quickly as possible! Oh wait, that’s not right.

At a particularly low time in my life, a good friend of mine said, “You can’t have the sweet without the sour.” I brushed off his statement because it seemed like a cliché thing to say. “Yeah, yeah, yeah, the world’s about balance. Blah, blah, blah.” What I didn’t realize at the time is you can’t have the sweet without the sour. I didn’t understand it’s the contrast that allows me to experience the sweet. If I had sugar all the time I wouldn’t even know it was sweet because I would become so acclimated to the taste it would become bland. I didn’t realize in order for me to experience joy, I also have to know sorrow. That there can be no “good” without “bad” because oftentimes states of being are defined by what they’re not. How can I know what bliss is if I haven’t experienced misery?

I think about that joke where two fish are swimming in the ocean. The first fish turns to the other and says, “The water’s really warm today.” The other fish says, “What’s water?” If I lived in a constant state of bliss I wouldn’t know what bliss is, much like those fish. So that is why I became physical. To experience all of it. The peaks, the valleys. The joys, the sorrows. Everything in between. Because only I, in my physical body, get to experience that. Angels, divine beings, they don’t get to experience any of it. They don’t know the thrill of ice skating or holding hands with their beloved. But I do. So this is it. The greatest ride of all. Being human. There is no heaven the way I’ve interpreted it. There is no time when I get to feel any better than I do right now. There is no time when I get to experience constant bliss, because when bliss is constant it ceases to be bliss.

I became physical so I could know all this. So I could feel all of my emotions, not just the good ones. A part of me wants to feel high all the time, doesn’t want to ever feel sad or hurt ever again. I understand now I can’t know the joy of a reunion without first experiencing a separation. I can’t understand the joys of eating unless I’ve been hungry. I entered the world to watch birds swooping in and out of traffic, to gaze at bright yellow taxis and tall redwood trees. I became physical to know the joy of a little girl racing toward me with open arms saying, “Auntie!” That’s it. I came for the experience, not the outcome.

I don’t know that I’m making any sense, but much like Licia Berry wrote in her blog, I’m recognizing my spiritual life is experiential in nature. That enlightenment and bliss are not things that happen at the end of my life after I’ve stood on my head and prayed a million times, but rather states of being accessible for me in the here and now. Because you can’t have the sweet without the sour.

I dream of a world where we allow ourselves to experience everything. A world where we know the thrill of love and the pain of separation. A world where we understand the sacredness, and the treasure, of being human because no other creature gets to experience the rollercoaster we do. A world where we have fun, enjoy life, and understand what it means to be physical.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

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Only Love Is Real

Last night I watched The Social Network. Seeing how much Mark Zuckerberg (the creator of Facebook) has accomplished at such a young age brought on a deluge of ego-centric thoughts. “Why haven’t I done as much? How come I’m not as successful as he is? I want to do big things too! I want to make a splash and be important!”

A couple of thoughts. One, there are all kinds of success. Two, it doesn’t matter how many “important” things I do, the feeling of worth has to come from within. I don’t need to make billions in order to look in the mirror and say, “Rebekah, you matter.”

But that’s not what I want to talk about.

Shortly after finishing the movie, I logged onto facebook (ironically) and found a link to my friends’ kiirtan band. They had uploaded a new tune and after singing along with them I started crying because I realized this is all that matters. This feeling, right now. The knowledge that only love is real. The feeling of complete oneness and peace. The upwelling of love in my heart that expressed itself as tears. This is actually all I want. Not billions of dollars, not fame, not well-behaved children and a doting husband, but this. This feeling. The exquisite emotion of love pouring through me and to me.

Listening to my friends’ tune, I felt all my ego thoughts get stripped away. I understood I will never be the youngest billionaire or the best whatever because I have different priorities. Only love is real and real love is all I want. I’m shooting for bliss, not fame and fortune.

This is kind of a rambling post but I guess I’m saying it’s nice to refocus my priorities. To remind myself I’m not striving for a fancy car or a big house. Ultimately, I want to wake up every morning feeling happy and content because I’m following my heart. I’m using my gifts and my passions to help create a better world. I’m entrenched in the notion that only love is real. Because really, only love is real. Everything else is my mind getting caught up in the hubbub.

I dream of a world where we remember only love is real and center our lives on that notion. A world where we remember fame and fortune will not fulfill us, just distract us for a while. A world where we live each day with love, in love, for love.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

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Waiting for the Right One

This week I fell into a tizzy. I submitted the first 10 pages of my book Just a Girl From Kansas to a professional copy editor and she chopped out all the parts I felt were important. It wasn’t so much her suggested edits, but her deletions that got to me. I felt like she didn’t “get” me at all. I cried about it, I wrung my hands, I went into a tailspin questioning my abilities as a writer. Perhaps this copy editor knew better than I did. After all, she is a professional. Maybe I better listen to her and disregard my intuition.

. . .

No. Just no. Copy editing, like all other relationships, requires the right match. I sent the first 10 pages to a former colleague of mine, who’s also a copy editor, and she got it. She got me. I wasn’t bothered by her changes because she kept my heart intact. I didn’t feel threatened or insecure. I felt pretty comfortable, actually. Obviously my former colleague is a better match for me.

Prior to this experience, I thought a copy editor was a copy editor was a copy editor. “You mean they’re not interchangeable? You mean they don’t all do the same thing?” No, silly girl, everyone is different and does things differently! I mean of course I had to find the right person to copy edit my book. Just like I’ve had to find the right person with all my relationships.

I used to think just any person could be my best friend. As long as they said I was their best friend and they were mine, nothing else mattered. I didn’t care so much about the person as the role they played. The role was the most important part for me. I had an empty cast list I needed filling. “Pull ‘em off the street! I don’t care!”

Perhaps it’s a part of growing up, or building self-esteem, but I’m not interested in contorting myself to please others anymore. I’m not interested in compromising myself just to keep someone else around. Just so I can check off a box in my cast list. Because the right person really does make a difference. The right person really is worth waiting for. I can spend time gnawing at my fingernails and kowtowing to other people, or I can say, “No thanks,” and find someone who meets my needs. My part is feeling OK with the blank space.

I’m not going to regale you with the beauty of waiting for the right person and how it’s so much better when you do, because we’ve all heard it before. What I will say is I’m worth it. I’m worthy of waiting for the right person. I have enough self-esteem to say “No” to people and situations that do not serve me. I have value and my feelings matter. How I feel means something and I don’t need to justify myself to anyone else or try to bend my will to theirs when it feels wrong.

The role is not most important. The person is. So I’m willing to wait. I’m willing to wait for what I want. I’m willing to let go of the people who aren’t it while I keep searching for the person who is. I’m willing to be OK with the vacancies because I know, even from this small example, the incorrect match is far more painful than not having anyone at all.

I dream of a world where we are willing to wait for the right person for all situations. A world where we have enough self-esteem and pride that we trust ourselves and our intuition. A world where we’re content with waiting because it’s far less painful than wearing shoes that pinch your toes.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

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May The Force NOT Be With You

The force I reference in this title is not the Star Wars kind, but rather the kind that’s inside your head and probably a little mean. The force that’s in opposition to gentleness.

I like to force myself to do things all the time. “I don’t feel like walking all the way home, but I’m going to force myself because I need the exercise.” “I don’t want to go out tonight, but I’m going to force myself because I need to be social.” The list could go on. I usually force myself because I have the best of intentions, but do you see how in forcing myself there’s opposition? There’s the “I” that doesn’t want to do something, and then there’s the “I” that makes me anyway. I think it’s probably my ego trying to exert control because, well, that’s what the ego does.

What I’m noticing lately though is I’d rather be in complete alignment with myself. I’d rather treat myself with love and gentleness because also, I realize eventually I’ll have the willingness to do what I need to do. But instead of forcing myself, I’ll just want to.

Let me back up. When I first started meditating it was suggested to me I needed to meditate twice a day every day. I would force myself for about two weeks before my routine petered off and I just couldn’t anymore. My willpower deflated. Then my senior year of college I wanted to meditate that frequently just for my sanity. What with all the stress of graduating, living with roommates, and entering the “real” world I wanted to meditate every day, twice a day just so I could get through. That’s how it is with me. It’s the same way with yoga. My teacher came to me in a dream and told me to practice my yoga postures and I refused. Because I didn’t want to. Then three years ago, all of a sudden I wanted to, so I did.

I bring this up because today I went swimming for the first time in probably three years and it was glorious. I smiled to myself and skipped down the street on the way to the pool because, “I was going swimming! I was going swimming!” Prior to today I tried to force myself to go. To somehow work swimming into my already busy schedule, but it just wasn’t happening. And now it has.

I’m not sure I’m making sense, but I guess my point is I don’t have to force myself to do anything – not even brush my teeth – because I know one day, someday, I’ll want to do those things. And it’s true. I want to brush my teeth twice a day and floss every night. I don’t ever have to use force with myself. I don’t ever have to do things I don’t want to as long as I’m willing to live with the consequences, like cavities, or whatever the case may be. Eventually my want and my willingness always line up. So I don’t have to worry. I don’t have to contemplate adding a kung fu class to my life or learning bookkeeping or whatever the other million things are that I think are good for me that I “should” be doing. I just don’t. Eventually the willingness always manifests. And if it doesn’t, perhaps I’m not meant to engage.

I feel so much more at ease knowing I don’t have to ever rely on my ego or the “should” voice because everything lines up. The time, the willingness, the money. It all comes together in a magical package where force doesn’t come into play. So I can relax and let go, and instead allow myself to live in harmony.

I dream of a world where we all allow ourselves to be where we are. A world where we recognize eventually, if we’re supposed to, we’ll find the willingness to do the task at hand. A world where we can relax, knowing all is well.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

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