As we’re finishing the Jewish High Holidays, I think it’s only fitting to share a concept I learned about recently. In Jewish mysticism, there’s an idea that in every generation 36 people hold up the world. These lamed-vavniks do not themselves know they are one of the 36 and no one else does either. What intrigues me about this concept is it makes each and every person important. Basically, you think of yourself as playing a part in keeping the world spinning and because you don’t know who else is a “righteous one,” you treat others the same.

I like this concept because it also flies in the face of our current reality. These days, there’s a perspective that if you’re not a celebrity, athlete, politician, or influencer, that you’re not worth paying attention to. In fact, a Bloomberg study found 98% of middle school and high school students would like to be a social media influencer. Some of them already are. Gone are the days of “doctor” and “lawyer” topping the career list for kids. Now they want followers. I understand, I want followers too, but the concept of lamed-vavniks says you can be powerful and important and nobody would know about it.

holding the globe

We hold up the world, metaphorically of course. Photo by Greg Rosenke on Unsplash

In other words, even without being an influencer, maybe you already have influence. Elizabeth Gilbert tells a story about how years ago she was on the midtown cross-town bus in New York. It was in January with sleeting wind and rain during evening rush hour traffic. The bus moved at a crawl and people were not in good moods. When the bus reached 10th Ave, the driver made an announcement.

He said, “Ladies and gentlemen, we are now nearing the Hudson River. I’m going to ask you to do me a favor. When you get off the bus, I’m going to hold out my hand. As you walk past me, I want you to drop your troubles into the palm of my hand. I’ll take your troubles for you, and when I drive past the river, I’ll throw them in. The reason I want to do this is because you all seem like you’ve had a bad day, and I don’t want you taking all your worries and sorrows home to your friends and families now. Because they deserve better than that, don’t they? So you just leave your troubles here with me to dispose of, and you all go have a wonderful night, OK?”

The entire bus erupted into laughter and sure enough, one by one the passengers exited the bus and dropped their troubles into the palm of the bus driver’s hand. They stepped off the bus with smiles on their faces.

We don’t know that bus driver’s name or anything about him, but we do know he made a difference that day. We know he directly influenced the people around him without sending a Tweet. It has me wondering, are you more important than you think you are? Are you someone who is holding up the world in your own way? You can’t know for sure so why not behave as if you are?

I dream of a world where we all understand the power we have to influence others and make a difference, even if we don’t have a million followers on Instagram. A world where we recognize sometimes the most ordinary-seeming person is capable of something extraordinary. A world where we behave as if each of us is holding up the world.

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

The Seedlings We Are

For the past week or so, tension has been building in my nervous system. I colored with crayons the other day and instead of easy doodling, I scribbled with so much force, one of my crayons broke. Later in the week, my chiropractor touched my spine and without any conversation or prompting said, “When you go home you need to break some plates.” Just by touching my spine, she could sense the tension thrumming through me. I didn’t break any plates (who’s going to clean those up?) but I did punch some pillows and indulge in silent screaming.

It didn’t help.

Instead, the tension remains like a brand on my body. I keep trying to dissipate it, to go back to feeling peaceful, but maybe I’m not supposed to feel that way. In his book The 12 Stages of Healing, Donald Epstein writes, “When we have become disconnected from, or have denied the reality of, our internal power – or if we have not expressed our innate potential – we often become angry … [however, as healing progresses] the initial irritation, upset, or anger is gradually replaced by a deep sense of self-respect and the desire to truly honor who we are.”

seedlings

We are all seedlings. Photo by Francesco Gallarotti on Unsplash

I’m not past the anger, I’m still getting in touch with what all this tension is about, but I resonate with Epstein’s message about truly honoring who we are. As we enter into a new year according to the Jewish calendar, I feel the energy of change. I’m being transformed. Some might say I’m like a piece of coal being turned into a diamond, but that’s a myth. Diamonds are related to coal, but they’re the purer cousin so no, if you squeeze coal really, really hard, it will not become a diamond. When discussing this with a friend, she said a more apt metaphor is that of a seed.

To become a full-fledged plant, a seed exerts force in two directions. It pushes roots down into the ground but it also shoots up into the air. The force to push through a hard-shell casing is tremendous. It’s also miraculous, which I’m witnessing firsthand and in real time. I’m growing basil, cilantro, sage, and parsley from seeds. I planted these seeds, watered them daily, and then literally overnight, boom. Seedlings. While the process may have been gradual, for me as an observer of the process, it wasn’t that way at all.

I’ve written numerous times about feeling like a seed buried in dark, fertile soil, meaning life felt slow, quiet, perhaps even confusing. Right now, anyway, that’s no longer true. Instead, I identify with the seedling, bursting forth and experiencing something new. Because of the timing of all this tension, I wonder if it’s related to the novel writing class I’m taking. Meaning, I wonder if like the seeds, now that I’m giving myself the metaphorical nutrients to support the novel I’m working on, the magic and life force within me are busting out. I’m transforming. I want change to be easy, meaning less intense, but as I take my cues from nature, I realize transformation is the opposite.

This post is about me, but it’s also about everyone. Whether you celebrate the Jewish New Year or not, whether you’re experiencing a change of season temperature-wise or not, things are changing. It’s undeniable. And if you’re also feeling tense, I wonder if you can view it as a sign you, too, are transforming.

I dream of a world where we recognize change requires pressure and force. A world where we understand not all tension is bad. A world where we honor the cycles of our lives and support ourselves as we birth something new like the metaphorical seedlings we are.

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

I am very attached to the fruits of my creative labors. I want my blogposts to become viral. I want the book I write to hit bestseller lists. I have very specific ideas about the trajectory of my creative efforts and boy do I get irritated when my ideas don’t match up with reality. It’s tough being an artist y’all. My ego can get in the way and when that happens, I have to remind myself what it means to be an artist.

As I’ve written before, my role as an artist is to establish a link between the finite and infinite, the mundane and the transcendental. In terms of creativity, it means I’m working with something more than myself because I am an instrument for my higher power. I am here to be of service to others through the art I create.

Talk to any artist and they’ll tell you at some time or another it felt like they were channeling something, that something moved through them. Indeed, Elizabeth Gilbert has a mega-popular video on creativity saying exactly that. If that’s true, and I believe it is, it means I’m an instrument for my higher power. I’m the violin, not the violinist. From that perspective, I’m not in control of the music the violinist plays, nor am I in control of how well the music is received. Or in my case, how well the writing is received.

paintbrushes

Each creative project has its own life. Photo by Anna Kolosyuk on Unsplash

I don’t know why certain things are popular and others languish in obscurity, but also, I don’t know the mind of God. However, I’ve experienced enough synchronicity in my life to know I am a piece on God’s chessboard, that there is a greater intelligence at work. That means art too. I want to write a wildly popular book that lands me on the New York Times bestseller list, but maybe every book has its own purpose and trajectory, and sometimes that means only six people will read it.

Last year at this time I sent a romantic comedy novel to every literary agent I could find. When sending query letters didn’t work, I asked my sister to coach me on pitching to literary agents live. Because my pitches went so well, I thought for sure somebody would sign me. They didn’t.

After getting rejected by every single literary agent, I finally stopped and asked, “What was the purpose of this book?” I don’t think the romantic comedy will ever see the light of day because it’s not supposed to be published, at least not in its current form. That book served its purpose because it demonstrated I can write a full-length novel, something I didn’t think I was capable of, and it also taught me a lot. For instance, it showed me I don’t actually know what I’m doing when it comes to writing a novel, but I’d like to. I want to know how to structure a novel, what makes a scene work, what doesn’t, etc. Writing the romantic comedy helped me see I need to work on my craft. So I am. I enrolled in a UC Berkeley extension course called “Developing the Novel.”

It’s only when I remind myself not every book is meant to be a bestseller, that every thing I create has its own trajectory, that I feel at peace. Every book, every piece of art, has its own “life” to lead. What I’m creating does serve a purpose. It just may not be the one that I think initially.

I dream of a world where we realize we are not solely responsible for our creative successes or failures. A world where we recognize we are instruments for something greater than ourselves. A world where we take our egos out of the equation. A world where we understand every creative project has its own life to lead and we let creative pursuits be what they are.

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

I learned something interesting recently. If people think they’re supposed to help someone else, they will. If they don’t think it’s their responsibility, they won’t help. There’s a widespread misconception floating around about the bystander effect, which is when people are less likely to intervene during emergencies when others are present and witnessing the same situation. In 1968, John Darley and Bibb Latané conducted an experiment that simulated an emergency.

Study participants were told they would be discussing their experiences in college with other participants. Each person was told either one, two, or five other participants would be chatting with them, but in separate rooms. The other “participants” were prerecorded voices that were played at points throughout the experiment. During the discussion, the person would hear one of the other “participants” call for help while having a seizure. The study measured the time it took for each participant to respond to the emergency.

The researchers found participants who believed they were speaking with one other person intervened at a much higher rate than those who believed others, in addition to themselves, were a part of the discussion. Psychologists have interpreted that to mean people freeze when they’re in a group because they think someone else will help instead of them. However, in 2015, Kenneth Brown at the University of Iowa gave a Tedx talk about how the bystander effect is complicated.

kindness. Pass it on

Kindness can spread. Photo by Mei-Ling Mirow on Unsplash

In his psychological studies, he found when subjects were told it was OK to help if something was wrong, that they wouldn’t ruin the study by doing so, the participants sprang into action when help was needed. There was no longer diffusion of responsibility and gone are the questions, “What does the researcher expect of me? What will happen if I step forward?” If it’s clear helping with something is what people are supposed to do, they do it.

This got me thinking about myself, naturally. I’m the type of person who will shout at a bus driver to wait for a fellow passenger. I don’t even think about it. It’s practically involuntary. On Saturday, I saw a man struggling with a small amp, a backpack, and a posterboard so I asked him if he needed any help (he did). Why do I do these things? Is it because I’m inherently a good person? No. I do these things because as a part of my spiritual practice, every morning upon awakening I say three oaths. One of them is I will help others according to my capacity.

By starting every morning with this thought in mind, I inherently believe it’s my responsibility to help out when and where I can. I haven’t conducted a study to determine whether other members of my spiritual community feel and act in the same way, but I can say for certain my family operates this way.

One time in Chicago my sister and I witnessed a man and woman fighting in the street perpendicular to us. Rosie stopped in her tracks and when I asked her why, she said, “I’m waiting to see if that woman needs help.” After my mother’s medical school graduation, we came upon a man lying in the street with a cut on his forehead who was semi-conscious. After we determined another bystander had already called 911, my mom ripped off her graduation gown and placed it over the top of him to keep the guy from going into shock. (She didn’t have any medical equipment on her so that’s all she could do.)

These are only a few of the incidents I know about. There are also the regular occurrences of help, like how my dad will do free tax work for certain clients, or my brother won’t charge for website design to help out a worthy person or cause. My brother and sister aren’t active members of my spiritual community, but they grew up in the same household I did where service was emphasized. It has me wondering what the world would be like if everyone saw it as their responsibility to help others according to their capacity.

Amelia Earhart says, “No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another. Good example is followed. A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves.”

I dream of a world where people are kinder to each other. A world where we understand in order for that to happen, we each must take responsibility for helping others to the best of our capacity. A world where we understand kindness is contagious and we do our part to pass it on.

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

I notice people seem to feel despondent and hopeless when it comes to climate change. They’re saying things like, “This is the coldest summer for the rest of your life,” and “Better move to the Great Lakes region because it will be the only place to get fresh water.” I get it. When there’s an onslaught of terrible news stories, such as flooding in Pakistan or the U.S., record heatwaves, epic fires, etc., it’s easy to feel gloomy. You’re more than welcome to feel depressed or live in dread regarding climate change if that works for you, but it doesn’t work for me.

You know how neuroscientists now say happiness is something you have to work on? That you have to engage in daily activities to boost your happiness because it’s not something that just happens on its own? I think the same is true with hope. Emily Dickinson told us hope is a thing with feathers that doesn’t ask for a crumb, but I think she’s wrong. I think hope is a flame that can easily blow out if you don’t tend to it.

candle flame

Hope is a flame. Photo by Paolo Nicolello on Unsplash

What gives me hope amidst the news of one catastrophe after another is that nature evolves. Did you know researchers at the University of Queensland have found a species of worm that eats Styrofoam? The common Zophobas morio “super worm” eats through Styrofoam thanks to a bacterial enzyme in its gut. There’s also a bacteria that eats a certain type of plastic. Nature is working with us to solve the problem of climate change. We’re not in this alone.

I also think about a quote from my spiritual teacher. He said, “Difficulties can never be greater than your capacity to solve them.” I take heart from that and look for evidence where I can. For instance, just recently, scientists at Northwestern University have done the “seemingly impossible” and destroyed PFAS using low temperature and cheap products. The BBC reports, “The reason PFAS have historically been so difficult to destroy is because they contain many carbon and fluorine bonds – the strongest bonds in organic chemistry.” But researchers have snapped that bond, which is fantastic news.

We also have examples of the global community tackling climate-related challenges. In the 90s, I remember a lot of concern about the hole in the ozone layer. Scientists warned that if the hole got bigger, it would cause “rises in skin cancer and cataracts in humans, harm to plant growth, agricultural crops and animals, and reproductive problems in fish, crabs, frogs and phytoplankton, the basis of the marine food chain,” according to the BBC. What did we do? We banned CFCs, the chemicals that ripped a hole in the ozone in the first place. And you know what happened? The hole closed up. It’s no longer a problem. In other words, we can band together to make big changes for the planet and we have. There’s already precedence for it.

When I feel down about the state of the world, I remind myself there is reason to have hope. Sometimes that hope is like a mere flicker, but I’d rather the flame was so minuscule you can barely detect it than for it to be extinguished altogether. Wouldn’t you?

I dream of a world where we recognize hope requires tending to. A world where we understand it’s easy to fall into dismay about the state of the world, but if you look around, you’ll notice cause for hope. A world where we pay attention to those stories and all work together to keep climate change from getting worse.

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

A little more than a year ago, I wrote a post called “Plants and People Need Pruning.” It was about letting go of relationships and recognizing it’s really hard for me. Part of the reason it’s hard is that all too often I don’t get a proper goodbye. The people that mattered to me – friends, partners, potential partners – just stopped talking to me. They were in my life one day and gone the next. Sometimes it wasn’t so dramatic. Sometimes they pulled a “slow fade” – gradually our communication became less and less until it disappeared altogether.

Some of my friends, especially the ones from college, I speak to on a less frequent basis because we live in different time zones, but I still consider them my friends. I understand relationships have ebbs and flows so this post isn’t about them, but rather the other relationships that are well and truly dead. Almost all of those relationships never received a proper goodbye.

When Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin touted their conscious uncoupling, the public mocked them mercilessly. It sounded like a hokey thing made up by celebrities. So much ire and derision were spewed in their direction that Paltrow said, “The intensity of the response saw me bury my head in the sand deeper than I ever had in my very public life.” I suspect that’s because many people are uncomfortable with goodbyes and don’t know how to do them because it’s awkward or challenging. I understand. But push past that discomfort because a conscious uncoupling, or whatever you want to call it, can be a tremendous gift you give to yourself and someone else.

man with luggage walking into a sunset

To say goodbye means to open to a new journey. Photo by Mantas Hesthaven on Unsplash

On Thursday, I said goodbye to my therapist/coach of eight years. This is a man I spoke with nearly every week. He knows everything about me and has seen me through soooo much. I’m not the same person I was as a result of our work together. However, I reached a point where I outgrew the need to see him every week. Instead of saying, “OK, bye, good luck with your life,” we had a termination session.

I told him all the things I appreciated about our time together, how I changed, what I will miss, and more. He did the same for me. I cried, a lot, but when we said goodbye, I didn’t feel an intense ache in my chest like I normally do. I didn’t feel hurt or wounded. I wasn’t left wondering if I matter to him or if he knows he matters to me. There were no question marks because we expressed it all. We honored our relationship and that’s exactly what I’ve been longing for all these years. It was healing to finally, FINALLY have a proper goodbye.

My spiritual teacher says, “A 5-year-old child is transformed in due course into a 15-year-old boy. In 10 years, the child becomes a boy. Thereafter, you will never be able to find the body of the 5-year-old child. So, the child’s body has certainly died.” He then goes on to mention the boy growing into a man, and then hitting middle age, then old age, until he finally dies and says, “The rest of the changes we do not call death; but in fact, all the changes qualify as death.”

If all changes qualify as death, why not hold little funerals for them? Why not grieve for them and give them proper homage and respect like we would for a no-longer-in-a-physical-body death? You might find that’s exactly what you need. I know I did.

I dream of a world where we say a proper goodbye to people. A world where we practice that not only for those on their deathbed but also for the living. A world where we lean into the possibly uncomfortable, awkward, or challenging situation of saying a conscious goodbye to someone because it’s beneficial for them and for us.

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

Several years ago I watched a Ted Talk by Elizabeth Gilbert on extreme success and extreme failure. She made the point that both positions catapult you out of your normal range of emotion and so both are hard to process. Both feel surreal because they aren’t everyday occurrences. Her point is resonating with me because I just got back from my sister’s wedding.

Not only did I see extended family for the first time since 2015 or 2016, but I also saw my sister’s friends from middle and high school. These are people I know too, although obviously not as well. They aren’t my friends but they are people who were tangentially in my life. We reconnected for a brief moment in time, a few hours, and that was it. Not only did I see them, but friends Rosie and I have in common, and, of course, immediate family, who don’t live close to me. It’s hard, really hard, to connect with people who mean something to me and then separate again.  

As much as I would like to maintain relationships with all the people I love and care about, it’s not possible. Having a weekend where that happens to a degree is difficult because I get a small taste of what I want, but just that small taste.

pink field on spiritual blog

Life can be so strange. Photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash

Maybe other people have already made peace with this and don’t really care, but that’s not me. My Sanskrit name, Radha, means the personification of love so in my ideal world, I’d be close with every person I hold in my heart. I’d see all of them regularly. We’d be up to date on each other’s lives. We’d have adventures together. We’d travel together. We’d be integrally connected. But that doesn’t happen.

Maybe instead of trying to force the impossible, I can embrace the ephemeral. This is why people talk about living in the moment, right? Because this moment and the next and the next aren’t repeatable? As much as we try to recreate experiences, we can’t, can we? That means sometimes life will take you far and wide. You’ll experience moments that are so surreal they’re hard to comprehend. It may be extreme success, dismal failure, or the convergence of multiple people from various points in your life. Whatever it is, I’ll bet you’ll have surreal experiences too.

I don’t have a lesson here. I don’t have any advice. The best I can do is recognize sometimes I won’t be able to integrate certain experiences because they’re so outside the range of normal that I can’t. And that’s OK. That, too, is what it means to be alive. Embracing the surreal is just a part of life.

I dream of a world where we recognize we will have moments that aren’t in our normal range. A world where we understand some things will feel surreal. A world where we embrace that, accept that reality and make peace with it.

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

I feel unsettled after learning what happened to novelist Salman Rushdie on Friday. If you’re unaware, he was stabbed as he prepared to give a lecture in upstate New York. He suffered wounds to the neck and abdomen and is thankfully on the road to recovery, according to his agent.

It’s believed the attack is in connection to Rushdie’s late-80s book The Satanic Verses, which many Muslims consider blasphemous as it mocked or at least contained mocking references to the Prophet Muhammad and other aspects of Islam. There’s also a character based on the Supreme Leader of Iran and after it was published, Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, or edict, calling for Rushdie’s death.

I’m upset by multiple things. One, the stabbing occurred during a lecture, an event you would think was safe and peaceful. Two, multiple people were so enraged by words, not actions, words, they sought to kill someone. That’s pretty intense. And problematic because to quote Rushdie, “The moment you say that any idea system is sacred, whether it’s a religious belief system or a secular ideology, the moment you declare a set of ideas to be immune from criticism, satire, derision, or contempt, freedom of thought becomes impossible.”

pile of books in a spiritual writing blog

Critical thinking is key. Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

Freedom of thought becomes impossible because instead, people sink into dogma. Dogma is thinking without logic or reasoning. And once a person does that, they start doing something because someone else told them to, which is dangerous because they can become easily manipulated by others. They fall prey to schemes and cause real harm to themselves and others.

Dogma can also be the reverse, by the way. It can be disregarding what a certain person, group, or organization says just because of their identity. My spiritual teacher says, “[D]ogma has had an extremely negative influence on ordinary people .… By arousing narrow sentiments, the adherents of dogma hope to fulfill their selfish aspirations … The followers of dogma do not want people to tread the path of rationality … The worst propounders of dogma – the kings of dogma – do not want people to develop mental clarity. They do not want the penetrating illumination of the sun’s light to pierce through the mists of dogma. They do not want people to bathe in the radiant light of the day and stand under the clear, unclouded sky.”

It’s also the case we fall prey to dogma internally, without someone acting as a puppeteer. We see this on social media with “stans,” or super fans that are overzealous and obsessive. They think the person they follow can do no wrong, and when the person inevitably makes a mistake, because, hi, they’re human, some stans dig their heels in and defend the person. People who aren’t super fans will engage in a takedown and explain why the person is trash and should be “canceled” or stop receiving support. From Merriam-Webster, “The reason for cancellation can vary, but it usually is due to the person in question having expressed an objectionable opinion, or having conducted themselves in a way that is unacceptable so that continuing to patronize that person’s work leaves a bitter taste.”

I understand that reaction and sometimes I think it’s warranted. However, this approach misses nuance. Every person is both a hero and a villain. Every person is capable of good and evil. It doesn’t make sense to follow a person as if they are an infallible, perfect human being. I know it’s funny to quote my spiritual teacher again here, but even he said, “Even if a young boy says something logical, it should be accepted, and if the Supreme Creator Brahma says something illogical, it should be rejected as rubbish.”

I agree. Use your brain. Dogma can be alluring because it’s easy and doesn’t require effort, but you have a brain and if you don’t use it, that’s not beneficial for anyone.

I dream of a world where we recognize no idea, person, or belief system is above scrutiny. A world where we don’t accept someone else’s words hook, line, and sinker, no matter who they are. A world where we use logic and reason to make the world a better place and bathe in the radiant light of the day.

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

If you’re anything like me, you’ve heard over and over again you need to figure things out. In the U.S., we’re fond of “pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps,” going out there and “seizing the day,” and just generally “making stuff happen.” There’s this idea if you aren’t hustling, you’re doomed to live an unsatisfying and unfulfilling life. It’s exhausting, frankly. But what if there’s another way to move through the world? An easier way?

Here’s how that’s showed up for me. Lately, I’ve been craving in-person connection, especially the group kind. The pandemic has decimated my communities by either transitioning to meeting online or halting altogether. I’m just not doing the things I was before and boy am I feeling it. Being the compulsive person that I am, last week I scoured Meetup for in-person groups, determined to find fun things to do with other people. I found a few groups, but given my interests, most of them require hiking and I’m still healing from a foot injury. They’re good for future me, but not present me.

woman resting on bag

I love how her bag says “subtle” Photo by Dan Burton on Unsplash

Magically, unexpectedly, two of the companies I freelance for are having dinners this coming week and invited me to attend. As someone who is a solopreneur, I often declare I don’t and won’t meet anyone through work because I don’t have colleagues. There are no water cooler moments or lunches with team members. Therefore, I find it hilarious that I’ll be socializing with coworkers of sorts this week, just when I needed it. Problem of in-person connection solved and I didn’t have to do anything except say, “yes, I’ll be there.”

I bring this up because it reminds me sometimes, we don’t have to do anything. Sometimes we have a desire and the universe creates circumstances and events to fulfill that desire. It’s comforting for me to know I’m not alone here, in charge of every little thing in my life. Instead, there’s a benevolent, loving force in the world that acts on my behalf. I didn’t do anything to create in-person connection and in fact, my attempts failed for one reason or another. I didn’t “figure anything out.” The universe did that for me. What a relief.

My spiritual teacher says every being evolves because Cosmic Consciousness loves them, and the force of that intense love draws them toward that consciousness. “All the entities of this universe are mutually attracting all other entities. But [Cosmic Consciousness] is attracting all entities by dint of His love for all, by dint of His personal relationship with all,” my teacher says.

In other words, yeah, the universe wants to support me, wants to help me out to bring me closer to the Supreme Entity, the consciousness at the center of everything. I don’t have to figure everything out, and in fact, it’s better if I don’t even try and instead, let myself be loved and cared for by something greater than me.

I dream of a world where we recognize there is a benevolent force in the universe loving us, guiding us. A world where we understand undergirding everything is a current of love drawing us closer and closer. A world where we remember we don’t have to figure everything out because we’re in a relationship with an entity that’s more powerful than us anyway.

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

I keep thinking about a post I wrote for a now-defunct website called Quarterlette.com in 2012. It was about opportunity beating down your door. What follows is an edited version of that post. Enjoy.

Growing up I heard the expression, “Opportunity only knocks once,” and I really took it to heart. I took advantage of every opportunity that came my way because I was scared it would slip away like a snowflake melting in the sun. Except as we know, when snowflakes melt, they come back again when it snows. Very rarely does it snow once and that’s it forever and always. Snowflakes are like opportunities in that they come around again if we only wait for them.

Reverend Michael Beckwith has a quote, “Opportunity doesn’t knock once – it will beat down your door!” When I heard him say that years ago, I laughed because I certainly found it to be true for me. If something is meant to be, the universe will make darn sure you get the message and will create situations for you to take advantage of that opportunity.

As a freshman in college, I attended UNC-Chapel Hill for a semester. It was a bad decision, not because Carolina is a horrible school, but because I didn’t fit in there. Forcing myself to go to Carolina was like forcing an 8-year-old to eat canned spinach – it can be done, but it’s not enjoyable. I toyed with the idea of going to UC Berkeley because from what I knew about Berkeley, it seemed more my scene – full of vegetarians, hippies, and spiritual seekers. Ultimately though, I decided to go to American University in Washington, D.C.

open door

Opportunity knocks more than once. Photo by Jan Tinneberg on Unsplash

I loved Washington, D.C., and decided to stay there after graduation. It’s a small city in terms of size but big in terms of what it has to offer. I had a large contingent of friends there (still do) and even managed to score a great apartment on Wisconsin Avenue, which meant I could gaze at the National Cathedral from my living room window. The National Cathedral is to this day one of my favorite places in the world primarily because it has a piece of the moon embedded in a stained-glass window.

Life was pretty good, only, I hated my job. Like, really hated my job. Like, complained-every-day-and-dreaded-waking-up-in-the-morning hated it. This was no fault of the company or the people. It was another case of canned spinach – great for some people but distasteful for me.

I had every intention of quitting and finding something else in the area, except opportunity came a knockin’ – or in this case, stampeding. I really have no idea why but while at a yoga and meditation retreat, I talked to one of the participants about his hometown, San Francisco. That conversation planted a bug in my ear and I found myself contemplating moving to San Francisco. I immediately decided it was a terrible idea because I didn’t know anybody, and like I said, life was pretty good for me in Washington, D.C., but the universe doesn’t give up that easily.

The very minute I said, “Nah, I’ll stick around in D.C.,” I saw someone reading the Yoga Journal, a magazine based in San Francisco and one I aspired to work for. It startled me because seeing this woman reading her magazine felt like a sign, as innocuous as it was. However, I still wasn’t convinced moving to San Francisco was in my best interest. Of course, from then on San Francisco became ubiquitous. While walking down the street in D.C., I saw San Francisco hats, San Francisco t-shirts. I met people left and right who were from San Francisco. When something shows up that many times it can’t be ignored. Opportunity was beating down my door. I finally said, “OK, I’ll do it.”

By now you know what happened – I settled here. The Bay Area has been my home for 14 years. When I start to worry that maybe I missed the metaphorical boat, that I should have said “yes” to something instead of “no,” I remind myself the universe will conspire to bring what’s mine to me over and over again.

I dream of a world where we remember opportunity doesn’t knock once, it will beat down your door. A world where we recognize what’s ours is ours and the universe will create situations to demonstrate that over and over again. A world where we have trust and faith that we will never miss the metaphorical boat because if it’s meant to be, we’ll board another ship.

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

1 2 3 72 73
Plugin Supporter Smooth Post Navigation