This month I’m participating in NaNoWriMo – that’s National Novel Writing Month for the uninformed. It’s an internet campaign that encourages people to write 50,000 words during the month of November. That’s roughly 200 pages in book land when you take into account formatting and page size. It’s approximately 75 pages single spaced in a word processing document.

Writing this much during the month of November, or any time really, feels nigh impossible for me. I used to say with sincerity that I can’t write fiction to save my life, and now here I am writing fiction. Some people might scratch their heads upon hearing that. Aren’t I a professional writer? Haven’t I been, you know, writing, for nearly my entire life? What’s the big deal with fiction? Isn’t it all the same? In brief, no.

Yep, I’m writing one of these. Photo by Mahendra Kumar on Unsplash

As a journalist, I write about the world around me. I summarize and synthesize information already available. I don’t create anything, I merely convey information. Writing fiction is the complete opposite. The novelist must create an entire world and have it make sense. Even fantasy and science fiction conforms to certain rules manufactured by the author. Characters have to seem like real people with real emotions and motivations, otherwise we deem them “flat.” As someone who has spent decades reporting on real people and real events to suddenly switch gears and report on imaginary people and imaginary events is no easy task. And yet, here I am, doing the thing I think I can’t.

This post isn’t altogether profound because, well, I’ve already been writing for two hours every day outside of my writing job, but there’s something important for me here about mentioning we’re capable of more than we think. We place limits on ourselves and what we presume we can accomplish, but maybe that’s inaccurate. When I hear about incredible things other people do my first reaction is usually, “I could never do that.” But could I?

My spiritual teacher says something to the effect of exhaust all of your own strength and energy and then if you’re supposed to continue, the universe will give you more strength and energy. That’s not a recipe for burnout, by the way. It’s not an invitation to run ourselves ragged. Rather, it’s the acknowledgment that if you’re lost, wounded, and starving in the woods, for instance, if you’re meant to live, somehow you’ll find the reserves to crawl 200 miles on your hands and knees to civilization. That’s not an exaggeration, by the way. It’s the true story of Hugh Glass, who Leonardo DiCaprio depicted in the movie The Revenant.

What I’m saying here is we are all capable of more than we think. Will I be able to write a total of 50,000 words by the end of this month? I’m not sure, but I’m working toward that every day. I’m tackling something seemingly impossible for me and doing the thing I think I can’t. And even if I fail, this process is stretching me in ways I never anticipated and that in and of itself is valuable.

I dream of a world where we do the things we think we can’t. A world where we realize we are stronger, smarter, and more capable than we are aware. A world where we realize if something is meant to be, the universe will lend us a hand.

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

The other week I had a conversation with a friend who told me instead of following conventional wisdom and keeping his part-time job to pay the bills, he devoted himself completely to his own business and went into debt. And now, years later, his business is taking off and turning a profit. I love stories like this because they remind me there isn’t only one way to do things.

Our society likes to give advice – we spend millions of dollars on self-help books every year. We constantly think someone else knows how to do things. We hear people say things like, “It’s when you stop looking for a relationship that you find one,” and absorb it like the gospel truth. Except, for every couple who had that experience, I can name another pair who married because they met through a dating app. They were actively looking and it worked out.

Sometimes we have to forge our own way. Photo by Nathan McBride on Unsplash.

As for myself, it’s scary and thrilling to contemplate there’s more than one way to do things. It’s scary and thrilling for me to contemplate that sometimes conventional wisdom is wrong. It feels much safer to purchase an e-course for four easy payments of $99.99 that will give me the steps to success. A guarantee that I, too, can have the life of my dreams if I only follow the advice of someone else. I want to acknowledge here self-help books and e-courses have merit. I’ve purchased many of them and they improved my life, but only the books and courses that encouraged me to seek my own internal wisdom. The books and courses that led me deeper into myself were the most helpful because ultimately we are each our own compass.

According to my spiritual philosophy, we are each a reflection of Cosmic Consciousness. We are all mirrors showing an image of the same moon, so to speak. However, each mirror is unique with different shapes and sizes. Some mirrors are dirtier than others. Some mirrors are cracked. But each mirror is still reflecting the moon. And when I think about my mirror reflecting the moon, I feel more at peace because the inner compass exists. I have a guide already to show me where I need to go.

Last week I spoke about trusting in the divine and understanding the universe may only light up one or two steps in front of me. But the path is there, and sometimes the path requires I deviate from the established footsteps of those before me. Sometimes it means heading into uncharted territory but that doesn’t mean I’m without a guide.

I dream of a world where we remember we have our own internal guidance system. A world where we realize sometimes we have to find our own way and it may not always make sense. A world where we understand we are all different and what works for someone else may not work for us. A world where we understand sometimes we have to flout conventional wisdom.

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

A few years ago I went to a neuro-linguistic programming workshop and the organizer said desire works in one of two ways: push or pull. We either say, “Yes, that” about something, or “No, not this.” What I’m realizing is intuition works in the same way.

I’m familiar with the “yes, that” intuition – it drove me to move to San Francisco, to call that person last week, to read that book. I know how to handle “yes, that” intuition. “No, not this” is more challenging. I don’t mean the one-off, “Don’t go down that dark alley” sort. That’s easy to listen to. What I find more difficult is the sort of intuition that says, “You can’t live here” and there’s no other home showing up. Or the intuition that says, “You can’t work here” but another job is not on the horizon. It’s the directionless, leap-of-faith intuition that unnerves me.

I associate light with the divine. Photo by Micah Hallahan on Unsplash.

My spiritual teacher defines intuition as a reflection of Consciousness, or Spirit. He also says that meditation leads to a clearer reflection of Consciousness. When I think about it like that, intuition becomes more simple. It’s a snapshot in time. It’s an expression of something greater than me, not a seven-point plan for life.

Something I often tell my mentees is higher power will shine a flashlight, dictating where to put our feet next, and that’s it. I want higher power to light up the sky and show me all the steps, give me all the directions, indicate exactly where I’m heading, but it doesn’t always work that way. In my experience, the way forward is often unknown and my part is to trust the path will appear. Even when it’s scary, even when it doesn’t make sense, even when it flies in the face of conventional wisdom.

It’s interesting for me to notice when I play trust games with people I have no problems. I will close my eyes and allow myself to walk forward blindly, knowing the people I’m playing with will keep me from running into trees or stumbling over rocks. However, when it comes to trusting the divine, I don’t feel quite so fearless. I’d much rather keep my eyes open and see where I’m going.

The conclusion I’m coming to is at this point in my life my eyes must stay closed. I’m getting the full, well-rounded picture of intuition, trusting the future will be exactly what I need. Trusting that even though I can’t see what’s next, the divine can and is taking care of it.

I dream of a world where we recognize intuition doesn’t always guide us to something, that sometimes it steers us away from something. A world where we realize we can’t always know exactly what’s next. A world where we remember taking a leap of faith means trusting in the divine and we do just that.

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

Lately I’ve been thinking about the role of the individual and the collective and how sometimes the individual’s desires are met at the expense of the collective’s. In particular, I’m thinking in the context of climate change. Recently I read the most horrific article about climate change predicting a genocide from it. How in some places drought will last for five years. Five years! People, I’m not too proud to admit I’m terrified, because I am.

I also thought about how we got into this mess and from my perspective anyway, it seems in many cases we put short-term gain before long-term sustainability. How some corporations decided as long as they could make a profit now, that’s all that mattered. The future? Well, that’s in the future. Worry about it then. I realize I’m painting corporations as the villain, but corporations are made up of people. I see shortsightedness in individuals as well. When I lived in London, I had a roommate who steamed a dress by running the shower while she puttered around in the bedroom. When I called her on it, she said, “Well, I pay for the water.” Her response dumbfounded me. What do you even say to that? She felt like she had every right to waste water because she paid for it. In that circumstance anyway she didn’t think about the impact of her actions. She only thought about how she wanted her dress wrinkle-free but didn’t want to expend time ironing it.

We’re all spinning on the same blue planet. Photo by NASA on Unsplash.

Sometimes we live in bubbles and think our actions don’t affect other people or our environment. We don’t think about how interdependent we all are. On the other hand, sometimes we take too much responsibility. I read another article in the Guardian about how our personal actions to combat climate change only go so far. Switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs only does so much. Of course it makes a difference, but the scale is small compared with the greenhouse gases emitted by agribusiness and factories. Many of us have bought into the idea solving climate change is the individual’s responsibility. It is. And it’s not. We must work in tandem. Carry a canvas tote bag but also put pressure on corporations to change their ways. Drive an electric car but also demand the government build better public transportation infrastructure.

This post is a little all over the place but what I’m getting at is sometimes for the good of the collective we have to sacrifice a little. Sometimes for the good of the collective we can’t think only of ourselves and what works for us. Sometimes we have to think about other people too and the environment and how all the pieces fit together. We have to remember we aren’t our own ecosystems. We aren’t islands completely removed from others. We all fit together and that means our selfish and self-centered tendencies must be reigned in. We are individuals and we are a collective. Both matter and both have a part to play. For the long-term health of the planet, we must learn to work together in harmony.

I dream of a world where we balance the needs of individuals with the needs of society as a whole. A world where we keep in mind the future and long-term sustainability of the planet and each other. A world where we learn to work in harmony for the good of all of us.

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

This weekend I met someone formerly associated with my yoga and meditation group way back in the 70s when he lived in Atlanta. That may not seem especially remarkable, but it’s literally never happened to me before. I’ve met people who had some exposure to it, but not people who engaged with the practices and then drifted away. My yoga and meditation group, while worldwide, is small and the chances of an affiliation with it coming up in a first conversation with someone at a party is unlikely. I grin thinking about the encounter from this weekend because it reminds me the universe is not random and chaotic. There is an order and an intelligence at play of which I get glimpses sometimes.

I take comfort in believing order and intelligence reigns because there are a lot of things going on in the world and in my life that I don’t understand, that I wish were different. There are certain elected officials I wish weren’t in office. There are certain policies I wish were abolished. I wish my body reacted differently to certain foods. I wish I didn’t have certain ailments. And when I spend all my time wishing things were different – while also working to change them – I get frustrated and feel like I’m beating my head against a brick wall. I easily succumb to despair. When life throws a little magic, a little synchronicity my way, hope flares up again and I’m reminded that perhaps I’m unable to see the whole picture. That I’m a character in a play that only knows her lines and not the lines of everyone else.

And then there’s sand timer time. Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

The other reason I appreciate the encounter from this weekend is the demonstration that things circle back. The man I met hasn’t been an active member of my group for nearly 50 years and now he might pick it up again. In my mind, if something doesn’t happen in the short term, it will never happen. I have big dreams and at the moment it seems like I’m veering away from them. I have sadness about that because these dreams are near and dear to my heart, but at the moment they aren’t feasible given my energy levels and my financial situation. Does that mean I give them up for good?

Intellectually I understand the answer to that question is “no.” I see many models in society of people who accomplished things later in life, but emotionally, the answer feels like a “yes.” The more reminders I have that things circle back, that dreams can be delayed, the better.

My spiritual teacher says that “whatever happens in this universe of ours is nothing but an expression of Cosmic desire or Cosmic will … when a human desire and His desire coincide, then only does the human desire become fruitful, otherwise it is a sure failure.”

Sometimes when I want something to happen doesn’t match up to when the cosmos wants something to happen. Sometimes the soil isn’t fertile enough. Sometimes you plant something and the yield is pitiful, but after adding nutrients to the soil, the yield is plentiful. I’m reminded here the universe is playing a long game. My recovery mentor says, “You’re looking at your watch while Higher Power is looking at the calendar.” My part I think is having patience, trust, and faith in the timing of things.

I dream of a world where we remember the universe has a long-term plan while many of us only think in the short term. A world where we recognize if we’re not ready for something just yet, it will circle back to us if it’s meant to be. A world where we realize while it may not seem so on the surface, the world is an ordered, intelligent place.

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

Kith and Kin

I’m sick right now so I can’t guarantee the eloquence of this post, but I wanted to write something anyway because I feel passionately about this topic. I’m observing a few things going on in the world right now. Tension is high. People are pissed, rightly so, at all the injustice running rampant. I’m not a sexual assault survivor, but I was also affected by the Ford-Kavanaugh hearing. To listen to so many horrible stories from people and to witness some of the reactions to them didn’t make me feel good. Everyone wants to feel seen, heard, and respected and when we’re not, it’s painful.

I also notice people in power are pissed too. Again, one only has to look at Kavanaugh’s testimony to see that. He didn’t show up to the hearing contrite. He showed up belligerent, denying all accusations. The New Yorker ran an opinion piece declaring the Ford-Kavanaugh hearing will be remembered as a “grotesque display of patriarchal resentment.”

We are one big family. Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

These are the times we’re living in. From an astrological perspective, there’s a whole lot of “othering” going on, as in separating from others, erecting boundaries, and dehumanizing people. Astrology is not causal, it’s instead like a map, and in this instance, we as a society are demonstrating the disintegrated version of the Saturn:Pluto transit. Othering is not limited to sexism, its showing up everywhere. It shows up in the treatment of people of color, in immigrants, of the LGBTQIA community. Anyone who doesn’t fall into the majority is subjected to “othering.” What’s interesting for me to notice though is even those who are privileged and in the majority are not immune to being “othered.” I read an exchange on facebook where a white man posted something he thought was supportive of the #metoo movement and a woman blasted him for it because she thought otherwise. She said instead his post played into patriarchy, that he is part of the problem, that he’s another privileged white dude perpetuating the disempowerment of women.

I get where people are coming from and at the same time I’m reminded of a quote someone shared on facebook that struck me as relevant for the times we’re living in: “If you don’t heal what hurt you, you’ll bleed all over the person who didn’t cut you.” Yep. Lots of bleeding right now. Lots of hurt people walking around. We are all taking out our pain on each other.

What is the solution here? The solution I think is three-fold: One, to heal what hurt us, whatever that looks like. Two, I think it’s important to practice empathy, to understand the perspective of all our siblings. We don’t all have the same experiences, but we all have the same needs. There is more that binds us than divides us. Lastly, as philosopher P.R. Sarkar writes in his book, The Liberation of Intellect: Neohumanism, “You will have to carry the collectivity with you, because the collectivity is yours. The collectivity is not outside you – your future is inseparably connected with the collective fortune. You must take the entire collectivity with you and move toward the sweetest radiance of the new crimson dawn, beyond the veil of the darkest night.”

We are a collective, moving together. We are a universal family sharing the resources of this planet. We are like a garden filled with numerous flowers, but ultimately all a part of the same garden. Like flowers, on the surface we have different petals, different leaves. Some of us require more water and some of us require less, but we are all flowers. We all require care and attention and I truly believe we can make it so.

I dream of a world where we all work together to take care of each other. A world where we seek to understand our kith and kin. A world where we remember we have more in common than we might believe. A world where we realize there is no “other,” only us.

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

My apartment building is up for sale. Suffice to say, I’m freaking out about it because I’m worried I’ll have to move. To be clear, the building hasn’t been sold yet, there’s no evidence to support my anxiety, but it’s here nonetheless. It’s here because finding a place to live has proved challenging for me. I’ve moved 31 times in 33 years. From 2012 to 2015, I moved on average every three months. Something always forced me out – my landlady’s dog biting me and drawing blood, bad neighbors, an inhospitable landlady, etc. It’s always been something out of my control so my current situation is resurrecting a lot of trauma because this, too, is out of my control.

I spoke with a friend on Friday and she reminded me that even if I bought a house, something could happen like a wildfire or flooding. Those are real scenarios as we’ve all seen. There’s no absolute certainty, no guaranteed safety, and for an anxious person, that’s the last thing I want to contemplate. My friend and my therapist remind me real safety comes from the ability to respond to a situation. To pivot as necessary. Safety means rolling with the punches.

Not my house but I like the mix of something steadfast with a home. Photo by Seth kane on Unsplash.

Right now I’d rather not roll with the punches, thank you very much. Right now I’d like to hide away under the covers and withdraw from the world. I don’t particularly want to write this blogpost either but I am because this is what I do, I write. I also know there are many people who feel similarly – maybe not about housing, but about something else.

Where do I go from here? From here, I fall back on my spiritual practices, where I always go. According to my spiritual philosophy there is an unchanging, absolute, eternal entity. Some people call that entity God or Cosmic Consciousness or Source or the Universe. The name doesn’t matter so much. My meditation is an effort to move ever closer to that unchanging, absolute, eternal entity and then to merge with it. One of the names for this practice in Sanskrit is Iishvara prańidhána. Iishvara means controller of the universe and prańidhána means to adopt something as a shelter. Therefore, Iishvara prańidhána means to adopt the controller of the universe as a shelter. It means to take refuge in the controller of the universe. That sounds academic, I know, but in essence it means to align myself with the divine.

What does that mean about my fear surrounding housing? It means one way to deal with the fear is to put myself in the Cosmic flow, to allow myself to be sheltered by something bigger than me. To accept the protection of my higher power with the nuance that bad things happen and good things happen and through it all I have a permanent, unwavering shelter.

I dream of a world where we take permanent shelter in something bigger than us. A world where we recognize certainty doesn’t come from things staying rigid but rather shoring up our internal strength and resilience to respond to stimuli. A world where we recognize there is an unchanging entity we can attach ourselves to and that’s where real security lies.

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

Something miraculous happened in my life recently. Not an Old Testament kind of miracle – no parting of the Red Sea or a burning bush. Nor have I received the modern-day version of a miracle where after one visit to one doctor I walked away cured. No, my miracles all arose after slow and steady progress. My miracles are of the incremental variety, but no less astounding.

For the past seven years almost to the day, I’ve struggled with sleep. Every day I woke up with brain fog, feeling like a zombie. I tried all of the things – diet, exercise, acupuncture, EFT, reiki, shamanic healing, ozone therapy, sleeping pills. Nothing made a huge difference. I still woke up every morning with what felt like cotton in my brain. I went through many, many cycles of hope and despair. I spent thousands of dollars searching for a cure. The sleep deprivation became so unbearable I took time off from work and slept in every day for weeks. It made no difference.

In July I did a sleep study, not expecting much. It felt like grasping at straws, another chance to try one more thing and at the very least see what was happening with my sleep. At first glance, the sleep study didn’t reveal much. In fact, the sleep clinic sent me a form letter advising I cut out alcohol, which is laughable because I don’t drink, ever. The sleep clinic professionals shrugged their shoulders and sent me on my merry way. I couldn’t accept that answer. Didn’t accept that answer. Even though the sleep study revealed I have mild sleep apnea, not enough for a CPAP machine, obviously something wasn’t right. How could it be if I couldn’t remember the last time I slept well?

I called a few sleep specialists and booked an appointment. I want to be clear here no intuitive voice urged me to call a certain doctor. I didn’t receive a nudge from the universe about any of this. I struck out in desperation. The sleep specialist diagnosed me with upper airway resistance syndrome, which is a close cousin of sleep apnea. Whereas in apnea breathing stops, with upper airway resistance syndrome, breathing is impaired. I’ve been wearing the device pictured below for more than two weeks and for the first time in seven years, when I wake up, I don’t feel like I have cotton in the brain.

The yellow arrow points to the “wing” that keeps my jaw pushed forward, opening my airway.

I want to be clear here that I’m still tired. I still take a nap every day. I didn’t wake up after one night of using the device full of energy. It will be a slow build but I’m feeling different and that’s a miracle. Why am I telling you all this? For a couple of reasons. The first is if you or someone you know is tired all the time and has trouble sleeping, get a sleep study. The second reason I’m sharing all this is to say keep slogging away. You never know when change will happen.

Lastly, I share this story because it doesn’t fit in with any sort of mythology. I didn’t find what I was looking for when I stopped looking. Change didn’t happen when I accepted my situation. I didn’t hear any intuitive guidance steering me in a certain direction. Surrender didn’t help me with my diagnosis. What helped me, what brought me peace of mind, is thinking perhaps everything has a lifecycle. That my health condition had to play itself out and there was no amount of wishing, praying, fighting, or accepting that was going to change the situation. Like I wrote about in June, regarding my poppies, we can water flowers and give them sunshine, but when they bloom is not up to us. Maybe a lot of things in life are like that. Maybe there’s no formula to follow and instead we have to wait for whatever it is to play out.

I know it can be disheartening for some to contemplate how little control we have over certain situations, but I’m also writing to demonstrate change can happen and does happen. That a miracle can come at anytime. It could be seven years, or it could be seven minutes, but please, please keep going. I’m starting to cry because I struggled for so long, I honestly gave up hope that I would ever be able to feel well-rested ever again and now here we are. Well-rested is something quite likely in my future and that is a miracle.

I dream of a world where we realize miracles can happen at any time. A world where we keep going and then stop and then keep going again. A world where we recognize sometimes we just have to wait for things to change and not beat ourselves up about it. A world where we celebrate miracles, even when they’re small.

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

Life and death have been on my mind lately because two people in my community have died in the past three weeks. I notice in myself and others a tendency to ward off death as much as possible. We do what we can to prolong life because we fear death. Not only death in the physical realm, but in other arenas as well. We stay in dysfunctional relationships, jobs we hate, cities we loathe. We avoid going to therapy or addressing our addictions. We do all this because endings are scary, even if we know they’re warranted.

Right now I’m reading Clarissa Pinkola Estés’ Women Who Run With the Wolves. In it she addresses the wild woman archetype and tells stories to illustrate certain concepts. One of the more famous ones is the ugly duckling tale. The story that speaks to me the most right now is that of the Skeleton Woman. Click the link for an animated version of the story, but the abbreviated version is a fisherman hooks a skeleton woman and not realizing she is caught on his line, tries to run from her. He bumps along the land with the woman on his tail and dives into his hovel thinking he’s safe. Alas, it is not so. She is inside his home, limbs akimbo. In the candlelight he takes pity on her, untangling her from his line, righting her limbs. Then he falls asleep and a tear leaks from the corner of his eye, which the Skeleton Woman drinks up thirstily. While he’s still sleeping, she pulls out his heart, holds it in her hand and flesh is drummed back onto her bones. She becomes a human again. She returns his heart and then falls asleep next to him, and “that is how they awakened, wrapped one around the other, tangled from their night, in another way now, a good and lasting way.”

Whenever we catch something new, the Skeleton Woman is on the end of the hook. Photo by Lim changwon on Unsplash

Estés asserts for any relationship to survive and thrive, people must reckon with Lady Death, which is what the Skeleton Woman represents. They must welcome her into their home, tend to her, make peace with her in order to breathe life into something new. I think the principle applies not only to relationships, but all things. We must make peace with the fact a beginning will have an ending, followed by another beginning. I constantly forget that. When I experience an ending, some part of me still tries to hold on, as I wrote about last week.

On Saturday, I witnessed first-hand new life springing from death. I attended a grief ritual where I cried with others as they held me and I held them. I cried for someone I barely knew and I cried for things I couldn’t articulate. I bonded with people I only know in passing and felt a new closeness to them. All around me I observed a deepening of love for each other. A group of people that otherwise likely wouldn’t have met. I viewed new life springing from tragedy. Do I wish we’d met in another context? Absolutely. And at the same time, death helped create something new. The more I give into and accept the life/death/life cycle, the more serene I feel. The less scared I am of the future and what could happen because I understand death will always bring something new.

I dream of a world where we embrace the life/death/life cycle. A world where we no longer fear death as something permanent and final, but instead see it as the precursor to something new. A world where we mourn, we grieve, and we accept we’ll always have to confront death in some form or fashion. But it doesn’t have to be as scary as we are led to believe.

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

All week I’ve bobbed along on an ocean of grief, coming in and out of numbness. Another community member of mine died, a monk from my yoga and meditation group. He had cancer so it wasn’t altogether unexpected, but still sad. I cried when I first heard the news and then I thought I was over it. Until I noticed I checked my email, facebook, and instagram a million times trying to dodge my grief. How I wanted to escape my life and be in someone else’s. Who wants to feel grief? Grief sucks.

In texting with a friend, I realized I have resistance to grieving, not only about this monk, but other losses in my life, because if I do, that means I’ve fully let go. It’s a real and final goodbye. And in order to keep the person a presence in my life, I’ve tried to block my feelings. Like a child who says, “If I don’t say goodbye to you then you can’t leave, right?” But they have and can and do. Whether I say goodbye or not doesn’t matter. And even when I do say goodbye, even when I know a person is knocking on death’s door, it still doesn’t mean I’m ready to bid them adieu. Is anyone ever truly ready to say goodbye to someone?

“Becoming the ocean” is no easy task. Photo by Ngaere Woodford-Bender on Unsplash.

When I was much younger, I remember trying to comfort my dad after someone died. I tried to console him with the notion that we’re all still connected. That just because a person has left their physical body doesn’t mean the relationship has severed. Nor does it mean we won’t reunite, especially as he and I believe in reincarnation. I’ll never forget, he countered with, “Yeah, but we’ll never meet each other again in this life.” That’s what grief is; recognizing and honoring that loss. No amount of saying, “You’ll see each other again,” can sidestep the loss.

So I’m crying in fits and spurts. I’m also contemplating what my spiritual teacher said about the dissolution of ego. How many people are scared of merging with something bigger than themselves because they view it as annihilation. To describe the process he uses the metaphor of a salt doll and the sea. He says, “If a salt doll goes to measure the sea, it will melt into it. Neither can it measure the sea, nor will it ever return; its existence will merge into the vastness of the sea, releasing it from all cares and worries. If one wishes to take the form of the sea, one will have to become the sea itself; there is no other way.”

If I wish to continue progressing in this life, I have to become the sea itself. I have to let go. To feel the feelings that I’m blocking. And in doing so, I’ll come upon something bigger than me. The salt doll becomes the ocean. Perhaps the grief I feel is carrying me toward something else, something bigger that I’m unaware of. And instead of the loss of my friends as final, maybe I’m traveling to a place altogether new. I’m not sure. Only time will tell.

I dream of a world where we allow ourselves to grieve the dead. A world where we realize the relationship changes into something new. A world where we surrender to the process we’re undertaking and allow ourselves to be swept away, letting go of the old and embracing the new.

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

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