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Everyday Meaning

I just moved on Friday so I am in no shape to write a blogpost, hence I’m recycling this one from February 2009. Enjoy!

I am the type of person who wants to do things BIG. I want to make a big splash, a big difference, a big impact, etc. A few years ago, I went to Jamaica because I wanted to do big-time service, but when I was there I learned service is the little things too.

I’m starting to believe I can find meaning and purpose in the small things as well.

Last week I would have told you to make difference, to really change the world, requires a best-selling book or a cure for cancer, something like that. Then I started thinking about it. I started burrowing down into the root cause of “making a difference.” Why do I want to write a book? Why is finding a cure for cancer such a big deal? Then it hit me: Duh, it’s because it affects other people! I started to realize the change, the impact comes from the interaction with people. Finding a cure for cancer is only meaningful if people know about it, if the antidote becomes widespread. Writing a book is only helpful if people actually read it and it touches them.

Everyday meaning

The entire world can be reflected in a moment. This image courtesy of MyEveryDayJourney.net.

As I pondered this, I realized my everyday life has meaning and value beyond the larger things I engage with because of the way I interact with others. Saying please and thank you. Smiling. Acknowledging the homeless woman on the corner. They may seem like small acts, but I’m reminded of a quote by Maya Angelou who said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Asking the bank teller how her day is going may not be earth-shattering, but she will certainly remember if I’m snarly and impatient.

I’m also reminded that society is made up of individuals and at this moment in time, my scope is small. I interact with a few individuals everyday, so that’s where I make a difference — in how I’m treating those around me. I think it’s really easy to become self-centered and forget that other people want us to ask how they’re doing too. Today I was at the grocery store and a worker asked me how I was doing, to which I retorted, “I’m fine thanks. How are you?” She thanked me for asking her! How simple, but also how powerful? How often are we really listening to one another? How often are we showing up for each other? Meaning, service, and an impact comes not just from becoming the president of the United States, but from calling up a friend when they’re going through a rough time, or driving someone to the airport.

I know I want to do big things, but I guess I’m saying little things help too. And I can find meaning in the everyday.

I dream of a world where we understand how we interact with others is where the difference, the change, the meaning comes from. A world where we realize smiling at the hot dog vendor has merit. A world where we pursue our big dreams while at the same time having sweet and smiling behavior on the day to day level. A world where we find meaning in the everyday.

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

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Start with the Chart

I’m really into astrology – not as much as some of my friends, but it’s definitely something I’m interested in. I know some people think astrology is a lot of phooey, but I’m willing to bet that’s because they equate astrology with reading their horoscope. It’s not. Or at least, there’s more to astrology than reading a horoscope. Astrology takes into account the time, date, and location of your birth and then based on where the stars and planets were, is able to reveal certain insights about you. It’s personal and specific.

I would like to point out here the stars and planets do not determine life events – it’s not like something will happen automatically because the stars deem it so. Astrology functions more like a roadmap telling a person how to get from Portland to Paducah. The path may be in place, but the person still has to drive there.

John Lennon's astrological chart

This is an astrological chart if you’ve never seen one. It’s not mine — it’s John Lennon’s.

What I like specifically about astrology is when other things in my life are not making sense I can usually count on astrology to provide me with an explanation. For instance, Saturn is sitting in my 10th house of career, which means when it comes to career there’s a big ole block for me. This explains why all the things that work for other people when it comes to career do not work for me. It explains why the books, seminars, courses, and other resources don’t seem to make a lick of difference: Saturn is blocking my career path!

It’s not a punishment; Saturn isn’t blocking my career to spite me, but rather to help with my soul’s purpose. I have a wavering sense of self-worth, which is also reflected in my chart. I tie my self-value to external things like who I know, how much money I’m making, and most damagingly, my career, specifically, writing. When I write a blogpost that gets lots of attention from other people, my self-esteem buoys. When nobody seems to care a bit, my self-esteem sinks. Last week I noticed through the backend of my email subscription service my blogs get viewed the most when I email them at around 11 p.m. I decided I was going to be really clever and ensure lots of people read my post by sending it at that time. Wouldn’t you know it – it was the lowest opened email ever.

This is the universe’s way of saying to me, “Rebekah, there is absolutely nothing you can do to increase your readership as long as you keep tying your self-worth to your writing. Saturn will not let you succeed until you figure out your self-worth is entirely dependent on your connection to spirit.”

I mention all this not to throw a pity party, but because it brings me relief. It brings me relief to know that I’m not doing anything wrong, that I’m not ineffective, or a screw up. My career is not taking off because there are some lessons I still need to learn. Astrology reminds me my life is my life and what works for others may not work for me. Astrology reminds me I’m on my own adventure and I can’t possibly compare myself to other people because it’s like comparing apples with orangutans.

I dream of a world where we understand we are each on our own journey. A world where we realize what works for others may not work for us. A world where we realize there are certain lessons we have to learn that others do not. A world where we bring ourselves relief by starting with our astrological charts to provide us with answers we can’t seem to find elsewhere.

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

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The Nose Knows

This post isn’t really about the “nose” knowing so much as the body knowing something the brain does not.

I have moved more times than years I’ve been alive. Not all of my moves have been major – sometimes it was a matter of moving from one furnished sublet to another – but needless to say, I’ve lived in a LOT of places. Given my history, I think it’s understandable why I’m hesitant to jump into new housing situations. Primarily, I’m scared of making a mistake, of putting myself in a worse position than previously. I’m scared of the unknown, of the “what ifs,” of the things I can’t possibly know yet.

The nose knows.

The nose knows! Especially Groucho Marx’s.

When I said “yes” to the place I’m moving into at the end of the month, it wasn’t an impulsive decision. I talked it over, thought it over, made a pro/con list. I felt paralyzed with indecision due to fear. “Would this place be worse? Will it be something I regret? Would it have been better to stay put?”

What helped me to make the decision with more peace of mind was paying attention to my body. I took my mind out of the equation and put my complete attention on the sensations in my body. When I thought about moving into my new place, I felt warm, at peace, relieved. There was some slight anxiety in my upper back, but for the most part, I felt great about the decision. When I thought about continuing to look for a place, I tensed up, my stomach clenched, I felt terrible about the decision, so obviously my body was saying, “Move. Move. Moooooooove.”

I realize not everyone has moved as often as I have, but I’d wager that we’ve all experienced indecision. That our minds have become like hamster wheels we’ve been unable to leave. Reason and logic do not work for me in these instances. I have to bypass my brain and go straight to my body and get in touch with the wisdom there. I do not know everything and I cannot know everything, but my body can give me more information. Thank goodness because otherwise I might still be looking for my “perfect” place to live.

I dream of a world where we get in touch with our bodies and examine the sensations we’re experiencing. A world where we understand our bodies may provide us with a wisdom that our brains cannot. A world where we realize the nose knows.

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

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Help is Provided

I have some news. I’m moving! Not just talking about it, but actually moving at the end of this month. (Yay!) Moving is one of the most stressful things a person can experience, right under death of a loved one and a divorce, apparently. Needless to say, I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed because on top of my already super-busy life, I have to add packing to the mix. One of the most beautiful, miraculous things coming out of this is people are offering to help me.

People are coming out of the woodwork to offer help moving or driving or picking up boxes. It’s been amazing because I often don’t know who to ask or even what to ask much of the time. To have someone say to me, “Oh, you can forward Craigslist ads of scooters to me to help you figure out what to buy,” is such a relief. To have someone say, “I’ll help you bring a load of stuff to your new place,” makes me want to weep with gratitude.

Help

When I saw this picture I couldn’t resist using it. How cute is this?!?

I’m a very independent person. I like to do things by myself and I pride myself on being able to accomplish things on my own. When people want to help me it’s almost shocking because it’s a reminder I’m not alone, I’m not an island, I exist in a community, and furthermore, people want to help me.

That’s hard for me to remember because my first reaction is often, “I need to take care of this myself,” or “I need to figure this out.” I forget I’m not supposed to have all the answers and be a completely autonomous being. Other people have skills and assets I do not and that’s why I ask for help! There’s something particularly sweet though about not even asking and instead people offering. It feels like an extra special gift that someone wants to show up in my life in that way. It’s touching.

This is a rambly post but that’s because I’m super tired. Mostly, I want to express my gratitude for the people in my life who are offering to help me, for showing up in that way, because it means a lot. This is also my way of saying, offer help when you can because it will probably mean a lot to the person to whom you are offering. It shows a level of care and service that reminds me of the goodness in humanity.

I dream of a world where we offer help when we can. A world where we see all the ways that help is provided to us. A world where we remember we don’t have to do everything by ourselves, but that there are people waiting to help us. A world where we show we care for each other by being helpful.

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

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Being Good isn’t Good Enough

The title for this post comes from a song a friend of mine wrote, which I’m embedding below:

 

I’ve been incredibly depressed this week, feeling hopeless about the state of humanity. Everywhere I looked it seemed the evils of society were reflected back to me and all I could think was, “What’s the point?” I can’t say I’m completely out of that melancholic spell, but what I’m realizing is being a good person isn’t good enough.

It’s not enough for me to be a law-abiding citizen and treat everyone with kindness. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s important to be kind to others, but it’s not enough to counter all the ugliness in the world. It’s not enough to eradicate all of the terrible things people do to each other. Being kind to my neighbor doesn’t go very far in reducing homelessness, poverty, and violence.

I think a part of my depression this week has been seeing passivity. I watched a movie and all the seemingly good people were slaughtered or went along with the bad guys because they were scared to do otherwise. I get that. I so get that because if someone held a gun to my head and told me to recite a script, I’d probably do the same thing. What I’m realizing though is if we, the good people, don’t band together, don’t rise up and get in touch with our warrior selves, we’ll keep getting mowed down. The bad guys will carry on doing what they’re doing because there’s nobody to stand up to them. There’s nobody to stop them.

I love superhero movies (they’re my favorite genre actually), but as much as I kind of wish Thor would descend to Earth and save us from ourselves, I don’t see any evidence of that happening soon. Batman is more of a possibility because he’s human, but why should all the work fall on his shoulders? My spiritual teacher says, and this is paraphrasing, that the strength of five good people is more than the united strength of a hundred immoral people. I take that to mean if we all unite together we can overpower the dark forces in the world. We can stop the terrors and tortures, but it requires more than showing up for work on time.

I don’t know how to do this, and that’s a part of my frustration. I don’t know how to engage in the world in such a way that I’m stopping people from inflicting malice on others. I don’t know how to move beyond being a good person, but I’d like to believe speaking up and speaking out is a part of it, and engaging in service for society whenever I can is another. I’d also like to believe that if we, the good people, put our heads together that we can come up solutions.

I dream of a world where the good people of the world unite to keep the immoral people in check. A world where we help each other out and refuse to sit idly by as we watch atrocities continue to happen. A world where we realize being good isn’t good enough.

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

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