Just as Normal

Something I’ve heard before is that physical health is a privilege. When people said that, I brushed it aside because I thought they meant health is something to be grateful for, a blessing, a gift. But now, as I approach my 37th birthday, I recognize physical health is an attribute to be grateful for yes, but it’s also a privilege similar to how we talk about White privilege. Meaning, something most people don’t think about, or take for granted, unless they’re in the group that doesn’t have it.

There’s a lot to say about White privilege, but to summarize, it’s obvious and less obvious passive advantages that White people may not recognize they have. It’s moving through the world with relative ease. Swap out “White” for “healthy” and the privilege is eerily similar. This post is focusing specifically on physical health, but there is also mental health privilege.

For someone like me – a person recovering from adrenal fatigue, a sleep disorder, digestive issues, a spoonie – I’m not able to navigate the world with relative ease. I’m forever worried my small business will crumble because I can’t work full time due to limited energy. And supporting myself with a part-time job is challenging, which I know, because I did it for years.

Unity in diversity

This graffiti says it all. Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash

In the days before my birthday, I’m crying because I feel like I’m getting older without ever having been young. For only three years in my 20s did I feel mildly energetic, healthy, vibrant, pleased with how my body looked and functioned. The rest of my life has been one issue after another after another. And as I’m crying about my own health challenges, I think about friends of mine, or people I know, who have chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, Crohn’s disease, thyroid issues, etc., and I realize we’re sold this image of what is “normal,” of how our bodies are “supposed” to be. Not unlike the ideals sold to us via White supremacy like beauty standards and the body mass index.

Thinking about all of this, I really get that health is a privilege. Not everyone is given health. We aren’t all born with perfectly functioning bodies that slowly deteriorate over time as we age. No. Some of us never have perfectly functioning bodies. Some of us have to take medication and eat certain foods and take daily naps to even approach what others have naturally.

Now instead of feeling sad, I’m angry because I’ve bought into this message about an ideal body – and I’m not talking shape and size – that is literally not achievable for some people. The kicker though is our bodies can change drastically from one year to the next depending on a multitude of factors – some of which we control. I personally spend an inordinate amount of time on those factors. A soul sister tells me, “I don’t know of anyone who takes as good of care of their body as you do.” And yet, all of that care barely moves the needle on my health. And I’m lucky because I don’t live with constant pain unlike some people!

It seems to me we’re in the age of celebrating diversity with race, gender, sexual orientation, and cognitive function (in some circles). It’s time to welcome in the body too. Not only when it’s obvious, but when it’s subtle.

My spiritual teacher says, “Human society is just like a garland which is made of different types of flowers, woven together by one common thread. The overall beauty of the garland is dependent upon the beauty of each flower. Likewise, each strata of society must be equally strengthened if we are to maintain the unity and solidarity of society.”

To me that means normalizing some people have health challenges in the “prime” of their life. It means recognizing some people never experience relative ease in how they move through the world on a physical level. It means making room for and supporting people like me who have invisible illnesses. It means not relegating us to the shadows or acting like we’re an anomaly because we’re not. We’re just as normal as anyone else.

I dream of a world where we create space for all people and not act like some are part of the “in” crowd and others are not. A world where we recognize diversity is what makes human society beautiful. A world where we understand that uniqueness is normal and in turn means it’s important to create a more accessible, supportive world for us all.

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

Sometimes I think the expression, “Don’t just do something, sit there,” was made for me. I’m not prone to inertia and people often describe me as “tenacious” and “hard-working.” That’s true, and it means I have trouble with the reverse: giving up.

I don’t know when to let go, not only of people and relationships, but also situations. It’s confusing because the message society sends over and over again is, “Don’t give up! Keep going!” Except, that’s not working for me. To give a small example, I’ve queried 55 literary agents since February 2020 for a romantic comedy I wrote and thus far, every single one of them has said, “No.” I’m still waiting to hear back from three agents, but I don’t feel all that hopeful. At the moment, I don’t have the energy to keep pursuing an agent for this book.

Instead of telling me, “Try harder!” my therapist recommended I take a break and let myself feel what arises when I do so, which is disappointment. He says it’s important for all human beings to deal with disappointment, to cry, and not keep trying to “fix” whatever is causing the disappointment. After shedding those tears, then perhaps there will be a new energy, a brainstorm for approaching the issue differently. Regardless, compulsive trying only results in frustration for me. That makes sense when you consider the five Buddha families, also called the five wisdom energies, which are Buddha, Vajra, Ratna, Padma, and Karma.

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There’s power in pausing. Photo by Lukasz Saczek on Unsplash

Each person has a predominant Buddha family with strengths and weaknesses. For instance, Vajra family people have an aptitude for mental clarity and the ability to correct any distortions. They are scientific, logical. But when they are encumbered, when their energy is bound up, they can become angry, judgmental, and critical.

All of the Buddha families speak to me, but the one I align with the most is the Karma family. Karma family people are hard-workers, they know how to get things done. When their energy is encumbered, they become envious, comparing themselves with others and finding themselves lacking. (Did you laugh upon hearing that? I know I did because the description is so apt.) The meditation for a Karma family person is to be in the flow, to think about the wind picking up a sail so that it moves with ease, not force. In other words, the practice for people like me is to take inspired action, not compulsive action.

I’ll admit, that’s so freaking hard because my compulsive doer is strong, but taking inspired action seems to be the message I’m receiving over and over again. The universe seems to keep telling me, “Pause, my dear. Just pause.” This is also in alignment with my spiritual philosophy because my teacher says, “[M]ovement through speed and pause is an essential factor for each and every animate or inanimate object. Wherever there is existential factor there must be this pulsation. An entity acquires strength and stamina during the pause phase, and emanates vibration during the speed period. There cannot, however, be any absolute speed or absolute pause in the created world.”

In other words, I’m paused now but it won’t be permanent. I just have to wait for wind in my sails.

I dream of a world where we recognize the power of pause. A world where we understand constantly doing all the time is a recipe for burnout. A world where we learn to take inspired action and until that inspiration strikes, we rest easy, knowing our time will come.

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

My body is still stiff and sore from the car accident I was in recently. I can’t turn my neck all the way and it hurts when something as lightweight as my purse presses against my trapezius. Because all human beings have an inherent negativity bias, it would be easy for me to focus on the bad instead of the good, the terrible instead of the great.

I do think it’s important to let things be terrible without trying to fix, change, or solve them, but a personal practice for me is also seeing where things are great. Even within my own body, there are places that are peaceful, that are at ease. It’s part of the reason I love my Network Spinal Analysis chiropractor so much. With traditional chiropractors, you tell them, “My neck hurts,” and they go to that pain point to crack your neck and put it back into alignment so the pain stops. Network Spinal Analysis chiropractors, however, do something different.

They briefly and very gently touch a point on your body that’s peaceful. They go to the place of ease rather than pain. They seek to emphasize peace and grounding so that your own body amplifies that energy and heals itself. For instance, they may touch a point on my sacrum and doing so causes a deep breath that sends energy and movement to a point on my neck that hurts. Both exist within my body. I can choose to engage in “all or nothing” thinking and say, “I’m in pain today,” or I can say, “Parts of me are in pain today and other parts feel fine.”

spiritual writing

This picture is dark AND light. It’s both at the same time. Photo by Stephen Leonardi on Unsplash

Similarly, with my novel, when I think of the piece overall, I’m quick to tell you it’s terrible, complete garbage. Except, that’s not the full picture. Parts of the novel are terrible and need to be reworked, absolutely. But there are also parts that are great. There are lines that make me laugh like this one, “After exhausting the safe topics, like complaining about work, the weather, and other news events, the table would inevitably fall silent and still like the Bay Area during Burning Man week.”

I’ve read that line numerous times, but it still makes me chuckle. So no, the novel isn’t absolutely terrible. It has some gems within it. Why don’t I focus on that?

The reality is there will always be an invitation to the fear and negativity party, but I can choose to decline. I can choose to say, “I won’t be attending.” Furthermore, I can center myself by aligning with a higher power. My spiritual teacher says over and over again if a person takes shelter in the Supreme, they need not be afraid of anything in this world. That the divine is “more courageous than the most courageous, and braver than the bravest. Those who take shelter in [the divine] are therefore bound to acquire these qualities: courage, bravery, chivalry, and so on. Once endowed with such qualities, what is there to fear?”

That’s the perspective I want to live from and that means for today, I’m choosing to view the world as mostly safe, people as mostly good, and my body as mostly fine. In other words, I’m letting things be great.

I dream of a world where we acknowledge not only the terrible things, but also the great things. A world where we understand even within our own bodies some parts may hurt while others are fine. A world where we understand rarely are things all or nothing, black or white, instead they’re much more complicated. A world where we let things be great.

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

Right now I’m participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), which means I’m aiming to write 50,000 words in a month. For the uninitiated, that’s a novel the length of The Great Gatsby. It’s approximately 75 pages single spaced in a word processing document. I’m pretty sure this new novel I’m working on is the worst piece of writing in the known universe, but I’m pressing forward.

The advice for those writing during NaNoWriMo is to tame your inner editor. Instead of hitting the “delete” key when you think something sounds awful, just keep putting words on the page. Let the writing be bad. There’s something liberating in indulging in that mentality. To revel in it. To acknowledge, “I know this can be said better but I don’t care.”

As someone with a history of perfectionism, it’s difficult for me to stop judging end results, but that’s what I’m encouraging myself to do right now. I’m acknowledging the new novel is bad, that it will likely change a lot before I’m finished, but I’m letting that be OK. I’m not nitpicking myself in the moment and instead giving myself freedom to relax, to explore, to try new things on the page. It’s fun!

terrible

Some things will cause you to shake your head they’re so bad. Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

I notice this principle, “Let it be terrible,” applies not only to creative projects, but also to the physical body (sometimes). Headline, I’m fine, but on Saturday night I was in a car accident. While driving through an intersection, a car ran a red light and hit the driver’s side of my friend’s car. We swerved to the right and the impact jostled me so I banged up my elbow and knees against the console very, very minorly. It’s my right shoulder blade that hurts this morning from the whiplash.

I took out a tennis ball and massaged the shoulder blade but it still hurts. I don’t think anything is dislocated; it just hurts. Because I was in a car accident. And instead of rushing to fix it, change it, solve it, I said to the pain, “I’m here. I’m listening, body.” I’m letting the pain be here, I’m letting things be terrible because sometimes that’s all we can do. The body heals on its own timeframe and that doesn’t necessarily mean something is wrong.

It reminds me of this NY Times article I read a few years ago where an American woman had a hysterectomy in Germany. When she asked about painkillers post-surgery, her medical team said she’d be given ibuprofen and that’s it. When she talked to one of her doctors about it, he said, “Pain is a part of life. We cannot eliminate it nor do we want to. The pain will guide you. You will know when to rest more; you will know when you are healing. If I give you Vicodin, you will no longer feel the pain, yes, but you will no longer know what your body is telling you. You might overexert yourself because you are no longer feeling the pain signals. All you need is rest.”

It confounded her, but it turned out her doctors were right. She didn’t need painkillers – she needed rest and patience. She let things be terrible, she let her body feel terrible, and that was her wisest course of action. For this month I, too, am letting things be terrible in more ways than I anticipated, and that perhaps is a greater accomplishment than writing the worst novel the world has ever seen in the course of 30 days.

I dream of a world where we let things be terrible sometimes. A world where we let our creativity flow without any hindrance. A world where we check our self-editors at the door. A world where we let ourselves feel pain when it arises because it provides us with important information to guide our lives and direct our attention.

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

I keep seeing suns everywhere — as a ceramic decoration on the side of a house, on cartoons, cards, etc. The sun is “talking” to me, which makes sense because I keep thinking about shining. What does it mean to shine? Where and how do I shine? Where and how do other people shine? Can I boost my shininess?

There are multiple definitions of “shine.” One of them is to emit rays of light, to give light. Another is to be eminent, conspicuous, or distinguished. I like to think of personal shining as emitting metaphorical rays of light in a conspicuous way. It’s the process of showering the self upon the world; much like the sun does for Earth. There’s a method for figuring out when and how we each shine. An Instagram post by Astrology with Andy said astrologically speaking, “The sign your sun is in [signifies] traits you identify with and/or are important to you. The house your sun is in [denotes] the area(s) of life where your sun sign’s qualities can best, and most easily, shine. The aspects your sun makes to other planets [shows] how to help your sun shine (and possible pitfalls that can dim its light).”

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I want to shine brightly. Photo by Benjamin Patin on Unsplash

As for me, my sun is in Sagittarius, sits in the 11th house, and conjuncts Uranus. Qualities associated with Sagittarius (and thus ones I value) are optimism, knowledge, and broadmindedness. The 11th house is the one of friends, community, groups, etc. so I shine in groups of people. It’s no surprise that while I get nervous speaking in public, I also love it. And because my sun is conjunct Uranus (a planet that has rabble-rouser/innovator energy), I shine specifically by either standing out as a vanguard, and/or in unusual communities such as 12-step groups or a fringe spiritual organization, for instance. I’m laughing and shaking my head because that’s exactly true and once again points toward the merits of astrology. Anyone who thinks it’s b.s. just doesn’t know any better.

Being aware of all this has me wondering two things — 1.) How can I activate my shininess more? And 2.) Is what I want even possible? Is it even in the cards for me to be a bestselling author? My astrological chart essentially says, “You have an intense desire to be renowned, it’s important for your self-esteem, buuuuuuut you have to work incredibly hard to achieve that.” Astrology isn’t everything — the Divine beloved is more powerful than astrology and can make anything happen, but still. I’m not feeling all that hopeful or optimistic, and as mentioned earlier, those are traits I prize.

AND instead of falling into a pit of despair, which frankly feels tempting, I’m reminded of a concept in many spiritual philosophies, including mine: “You have the right to action but not to the fruits of the actions.” My spiritual teacher says, “Wherever there is an action, there is a corresponding reaction because every action gets either reflected or refracted. The wave produced by the action will be either reflected or refracted. Both reflection and refraction are reactions. So whenever you act, whatever the nature of that work, that is the kind of reflection or refraction it will produce. But that reflected or refracted reaction is not in your hands. To do whatever you do, that is your only right.”

To do whatever I do is my only right. How it will be received, who will read it, how popular I’ll become as a result, etc. is out of my hands and not up to me. All I can do is what I’m doing and in this case that means putting words on a page.

I dream of a world where we recognize our own unique talents and gifts. A world where we shine those gifts upon the world. A world where we understand that as much as we want to control outcomes, we cannot. A world where we realize all we can do is put in the work and let go of the rest.

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

Bumping Elbows

I feel vulnerable right now, sensitive. In part it’s because rain has come to the Bay Area (along with a flood warning) and I have seasonal affective disorder. However, I feel vulnerable and sensitive right now also because I’m in a weird liminal space. An in-between space. The pandemic is raging on, but many people have returned to life as normal, or something like it. They’re going out to eat, they’re hanging out with friends indoors, they’re going to parties, they’ve returned to the office, or will soon. Life looks pretty much like it did before the pandemic except for wearing a mask certain places and perhaps flashing a vaccination card here and there.

For me though, there’s not really a normal to return to, at least when it comes to certain things, like community. The community I had pre-pandemic has been decimated. Not because anyone died, but rather because so many people have moved away. Not everyone — I still have local friends — but enough to be noticeable. The things I did in community — meditating as a group or attending a 12-step meeting — take place solely online now. And it’s possible they’ll stay that way. I can’t say for sure, but it doesn’t really matter because in the moment, what I want doesn’t exist: in-person community.

spiritual writing

Slot me in there! Photo by Vonecia Carswell on Unsplash

I have lots of online community (Zoom calls out the wahzoo), but the kind where I can bump elbows with someone? Where I can see more than their head and shoulders? Nope. As the world opens up and people are getting together again, they’re reaching out to friends and community members. I’m noticing that’s not an option for me. I have numerous individual friends, but they aren’t friends with each other. They don’t know or hang out with each other and have no reason to unless I corral them together. Frankly, I miss that — people united around a common interest and developing comradery because of it.

My spiritual teacher says, “You should have more and more contact with people, contact with whom will be helpful in your development.” And elsewhere he says, “Even a good person or a sádhaka [spiritual aspirant] needs proper maintenance, for in a world of constant change, care must be taken that the change be always toward the better or the higher. Keeping good company is essential for this positive development.”

Good company is crucial and there’s something to be said for the kind that you can touch. I have a need for presence that is very much not getting met. I don’t write this to seek solutions. I’m writing it to express myself and also put into words something other people are likely feeling. Somebody out there must be going through what I’m going through. If so, you’re not alone. I’m over here too, wishing for the same thing.

I dream of a world where we each have a strong, in-person community, or even more than one! A world where we spend time together in large groups because we recognize how important it is. A world where we understand good company is crucial for our mental health. A world where we understand we aren’t alone and we connect with people who are like us.

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

I love a good Hero’s Journey as much as the next person. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, it’s a common story arc found in movies like Star Wars, The Matrix, and Lord of the Rings where the hero goes on an adventure, is victorious in a decisive crisis, and comes home changed or transformed. The hero can also be female, as we see in The Hunger Games.

However, despite swapping out a male character for a female one, the hero’s journey is not the same as the heroine’s journey, meaning it doesn’t address the psycho-spiritual journey for many women. (I’ll also add in here it’s likely the hero’s journey doesn’t work well for some men either.) Joseph Campbell popularized the Hero’s Journey in 1949 with men in mind and said “Women don’t need to make the journey. In the whole mythological journey, the woman is there. All she has to do is realize that she’s the place that people are trying to get to.”

Um, thanks Joe. I mean, on the one hand I get that he’s pointing toward wholeness and encouraging men to embrace the more feminine aspects of themselves, but on the other hand, what about us ladies?!? For women, there’s the Heroine’s Journey, developed by Maureen Murdock. If the Hero’s Journey is about ascending a mountaintop, the Heroine’s Journey is about descending to the underworld. When a friend said that to me recently, my response was, “Yeeeesssssssss,” because that’s EXACTLY my experience. All of my demons have been internal. All of my personal development work has been about confronting my own shadow and reclaiming wholeness.

spiritual writing

For some people, they undertake the heroine’s journey. Photo by ActionVance on Unsplash

Part of confronting the shadow comes from interacting with other people of course. I’m not saying the Heroine’s Journey takes place in a locked room. We see this in two popular movies that follow the Heroine’s Journey arc: Pixar’s Brave and the first Wonder Woman movie. I remember when I watched both those movies for the first time how touched I felt afterward. They impacted me in a deep way and I could see myself reflected in the characters that I couldn’t as much when watching the original Star Wars, for instance.

What makes the Heroine’s Journey different? Instead of ending the story after successfully conquering ogres and dragons, the heroine becomes disillusioned and realizes she feels unfulfilled. Something is missing in her life and she falls into despair because of it. She yearns to reconnect with her whole self – the feminine, soft side and the wounded masculine – and integrates the two. After doing so, she interacts with the world beyond binaries and understands complexity.

This is forever what I’m working on and in fact is a part of the spiritual journey as well as the journey society is taking. My spiritual teacher says, “Until recently there was a defective idea in all the corners and amongst all the groups of people on the Earth, that males are blessed beings, and not females. In your family life, you know, you feel that the parents cannot have any sense of disparity in their mind regarding their sons and daughters. Both are equally important; both are equally loving. I said my sons and my daughters are just like two hands of mine. They are just like the wings of a bird. A bird having one wing cannot fly.”

My teacher is speaking specifically about the role of women in society – women need to be respected and treated just as well as men – but I think the concept also applies within a person as well. We are like birds and can’t fly properly if one wing is more dominant than another. The Heroine’s Journey is one mechanism that supports our return to wholeness and one that I’m now embracing.

I dream of a world where we realize the Hero’s Journey is not everyone’s journey. A world where we understand the alternative, the Heroine’s Journey, could help us become more whole. A world where we integrate all aspects of ourselves – masculine and feminine – in order to fly freely through the world like the beautiful birds we are.

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

This week I read a Twitter thread about the creator of the latest Netflix phenomenon “Squid Game.” According to several news pieces, Hwang Dong-hyuk wrote the show in 2009 but was rejected by studios for 10 years. He once had to stop writing the script and sell his $675 laptop because of money struggles. The Twitter thread author, Ifę, @ifetalksback, said as a writer they find the story terrifying more than inspiring.

As part of the thread, Ifę said, “They’ll be like ‘I had to wait 15 years, my mother don’t speak to me anymore, I lost a finger to typing so much, I can’t remember the last time I saw the sky. But now I have a show,’ And the comments from everyone who ISN’T a writer is like ‘NEVER give up bro, so inspiring.’”

I agree – on the one hand, it’s always inspiring when long-awaited dreams come true, but on the other hand, I find the story to reflect poorly on not only the film industry, but also us as a society in general. Hwang had to literally sell one of the tools of his trade in order to make ends meet. That’s not OK.

pay for spiritual writing

The picture says it all. Photo by Patrick Perkins on Unsplash

My spiritual teacher says it’s the duty of society to support its artists because artists are pioneers. “If those who are the pioneers of society … if they are forced to starve or half-starve, this will certainly not be to the credit of human society. It is unthinkable that these creative geniuses should curse their own fate.”

Seriously. Artists – and that includes writers – have a special role to play in society and letting them struggle is not cute or inspiring or romantic or whatever notions we have in this modern world. It’s a travesty. Especially during the pandemic, we’ve seen the importance of art and literature. What would we do, how would we survive if we didn’t have books to read, movies to watch, games to play? For many, escaping into entertainment was, or is, the only way to feel joy during an otherwise extremely bleak period. And yet we let artists like Hwang Dong-hyuk toil away and then romanticize his rags-to-riches story? No.

What would happen if artists were supported and didn’t need to work “day jobs” or have numerous “side hustles” or live with 10 roommates just to survive? What sort of art would they make? What would they be able to accomplish if they weren’t constantly worried about money? In case you can’t tell, I’m PISSED this is the situation we find ourselves in. Not only for artists, but for everyone.

Who does this capitalistic, hypercompetitive economy work for? Very few, that’s who. And the reality is we don’t have to live like this. I don’t know how we release ourselves from the shackles of capitalism, but I do know there are other ways to live. Ways in which people are guaranteed the basic necessities of life like food, clothing, education, shelter, and medical care. Ways in which people are valued over profits, the environment is respected, and we as a society are able to satisfy our higher intellectual, artistic, and spiritual aspirations. Ways in which artists like Hwang Dong-hyuk don’t have to sell their laptops in order to pay their bills.

I dream of a world where we not only praise artists and writers, but we value them with our wallets. A world where we support artists and writers so they can do what they were put on this Earth to do – create. A world where we understand artists barely making ends meet is appalling, not romantic.

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

P.S. This might be a good time to mention I have a Patreon campaign. If you value my work, consider contributing.

This weekend a friend told me his friends are getting into cryptocurrency so they can make a lot of money. My response was, “So they can do what? Retire early and satisfy every pleasure they have? Or build a rocket ship into space while there are people literally starving to death?”

I mean, I understand the impulse. Our society lauds the accumulation of wealth. When Jeff Bezos launched into space, morning shows allocated 212 minutes to discussing it. In contrast, they spent 267 minutes for all of 2020 discussing the climate crisis even though the climate crisis is a far bigger story that impacts the entire world. In the U.S. anyway, we treat money like it’s the most important thing, as if being wealthy is the greatest accomplishment of a person’s life. We see this not only in media coverage, but also in how wealthy people are allowed to become richer. We aren’t taxing the rich to fund things like schools, roads, bridges, healthcare, or anything that would benefit the many. No. Instead we’re letting people accumulate wealth unchecked so they can visit space for 10 minutes on the backs of people who are working in inhumane conditions.

I’m not someone who thinks money is the root of all evil. I don’t think we should go back to a time of bartering for all our needs. Money makes life more comfortable, absolutely, and being poor is one of the hardest, most stressful situations a person can find themselves in. But why are some people allowed to make millions in one day while others are working multiple jobs just to cover all their expenses? And furthermore, what’s the point of making so much money you can buy a private island?

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The point of life is NOT to buy a private island. Photo by Sam Deng on Unsplash

My spiritual teacher says:

“A mind, driven by many psychic [desires] is the prisoner of innumerable predicaments. In such a condition, the human mind becomes extroversial, multi-directional, weak, and static. It is propelled by the principle of selfish pleasure, which leads it down the path of counter-evolution. … As people have to satisfy their unrestrained psychic [desires] with limited objects of wealth, they often create interpersonal and inter-group conflicts. The collective psychology arising from many objectified human minds gives rise to social inequality, economic exploitation, political repression, religious bigotry, cultural perversion, and the all-round degradation of the individual and society. Crude psychic [desires] cause the degeneration of individual and collective mind, and thus bring about the downfall of the society.”

I’d say we’re seeing that now. Society certainly seems to be moving in a downward direction in many regards. So what’s the point of life if it’s not to get as much wealth as possible and satisfy every selfish pleasure that enters your brain? Take it from someone who is rich and famous, Jim Carrey, who said, “I hope everybody could get rich and famous and will have everything they ever dreamed of, so they will know that it’s not the answer.”

The answer instead is to eradicate all inequalities and contribute to society in such a way that we’re supporting each other, taking care of each other. The answer is to live in this world, to ensure everyone has their basic needs met, but also recognize there’s more to being alive than material gain. Ultimately what we’re seeking is infinite pleasure, infinite happiness, and that only comes from something that is also infinite: communing with the loving consciousness that pervades this universe.

I dream of a world where we understand despite what much of society tells us, the point of life is not to get rich and famous. A world where we realize satisfying every selfish pleasure only leads to our downfall and the downfall of society. A world where we appreciate material goods, but also recognize ultimately life is more enjoyable if we serve society and commune with spirit.

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

Don’t Look Too Far

Anxiety kicks up for me when I start to contemplate the future in a negative way. When I imagine worst-case scenarios like all my clients will end our relationship, I’ll drain my savings, and I’ll never move out of this one-bedroom apartment. It’s not a pleasant rumination. The answer seems simple, doesn’t it? Stop imagining a negative future.

Instead of imagining a negative future I could imagine a positive future. I could also do that thing spiritual teachers everywhere advise: be present. The latter is what’s coming up for me today. In fact, there’s a quote I like from a daily reader and this morning I planned to thumb through the entire book until I found it, except no need. I opened the book to exactly the quote I had in mind! It’s by Pindar who said, “Do not peer too far.” The affirmation in my daily reader is, “For today, I neither want to know the future, nor to live in it before it arrives.” Truthfully, I do want to know the future, but only if the future is line with my dreams, not my nightmares. However, the message for today is, “Be where your feet are.”

spiritual writing

Keep a little mystery. Don’t look too far. Photo by Katie Gerrard on Unsplash

In the present moment am I OK? Am I able to pay my rent? Is there food in my fridge? Do I have a place to sleep? Am I getting enough connection? If the answer to all those questions is “yes,” I’d say I’m doing alright. What also helps me become grounded is to use my senses. What are five things I can see? Four things I can feel? Three things I can hear? Two things I can smell? One thing I can taste? Being in my body brings peace because the body only knows the here and now, nothing else.

It’s also helpful to remind myself life can be surprising and delightful. For instance, in the middle of writing this, a friend called me up and asked me if I’d like to go to an outdoor party in the redwoods with a pickup in 45 minutes! I said yes because why the heck not? I love redwoods and I haven’t been to a party in ages. If I knew the future, I wouldn’t be surprised or delighted by the spontaneous turn of events, and spontaneity goes hand in hand with joy, according to research.

Eating lunch sitting among redwoods and then lounging in a hammock afterward while I watched the wind blow needles off the trees was pretty delightful, I must say. And it’s not what I had planned for my day, which made it all the more enjoyable. Eckhart Tolle speaks to this in his book The Power of Now when he writes, “As soon as you honor the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle dissolve, and life begins to flow with joy and ease. When you act out the present-moment awareness, whatever you do becomes imbued with a sense of quality, care, and love — even the most simple action.”

So that’s what I’m doing today, living in the now, being present, reminding myself the future is an ever-evolving situation that I’m not able to predict anyway. But this right here I can do something about, and for today, that means not peering too far.

I dream of a world where we realize looking too far ahead will likely cause anxiety and instead we stay present. A world where we understand the present moment is a point of power. A world where we remember life can be surprising and delightful, but only if we let it.

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

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