Lose Your Ring

“All of us have had the experience of a sudden joy that came when nothing in the world had forewarned us of its coming – a joy so thrilling that if it was born of misery, we remembered even the misery with tenderness.” – – Antoine de Saint-Exupery, from “Wind, Sand And Stars”

Eckhart Tolle tells the story of a woman with terminal cancer he was counseling during the last three months of her life.  He came to her home one day to find her in great distress and anger.  The diamond ring handed down to her by her grandmother was missing, and she was convinced the nurse who looked after her a few hours each day had stolen it.  After some time passed, Tolle reminded her that she would have to let it go soon anyway.  He then asked her a few questions, among them “Will you become less when you let go of it?” and “Has who you are become diminished by the loss?”  At first her answer to both was a resounding “yes.”  As the two sat in silence for a while she told Tolle that when she tried to feel her answer rather than think about it, she started to feel her “I am-ness.” Hardly a state of being diminished, but one of feeling alive and at peace.  The feeling increased until she died peacefully three months later. When the woman’s mother let Tolle know that his client had died, she also informed him that while cleaning out her kitchen cabinet they found a diamond ring.  Perhaps it was stolen and put back.  Or it may have been there the whole time.

Like it or not, what we’re seeing in the world today is a reflection of our mass consciousness.  Not just Republicans or Democrats, not only Russians or Chinese or Mexicans, and not only people from Lilliput. All of us.  And whose responsibility is it to make changes?  Surely, vote when you get a chance.  Another thing to consider is the answers given when two spiritual luminaries were asked rather pointed questions.  The Dalai Lama was once asked if he ever got angry because of what was going on in his country.  He answered, “Yes, but that is because I am lazy in my work.”  When Ho oponopono teacher Dr Hew Len (think “I love you, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you” chant) was asked what he thought of the condition of the world, he paused and then said “Yes – I have a lot of cleaning to do.”  While politicians may make convenient targets (I’m sure not exempting myself here) the fact remains that whatever behavior they exhibit that bothers me is triggered by a similar trait in myself.  Will asking a Higher Power to remove those defects from me resolve the worlds wars and other issues?  Doubtful.  But it just may make my own mind more peaceful.  And the minds of those around me.  It just may allow me to “carry the message” of the peace I’m feeling to a frantic world and have a ripple effect.

In the movie “The Dark Knight Rises” there is a scene in which the police commissioner is watching a presidential news conference on television with a young policeman.  As Gotham City is being held hostage by the villain Bain and his crew, the president finishes his speech by saying “We do not negotiate with terrorists.”  The young cop turns to the commissioner and says “What does that mean?” to which Commissioner Gordon replies, “It means we’re on our own.”  Many of us saw POTUS react to a reporter asking him to reassure millions of scared Americans by attacking the reporter himself.  Many of us wondered why he couldn’t answer a simple question.  But he actually did answer. What I heard him say was his oft repeated “I’m scared.” But I also heard him say “You’re on your own.”  I’ve heard it many times with different words.

The last half mile of my six mile run tonight was littered by messages of hope in sidewalk chalk. One was the chorus of George Harrison’s “Here Comes The Sun,” the other Jesse Colin Young’s “Get Together” (“come on people now, smile on your brother . . . “). What a beautiful sentiment in a difficult time.  Yesterday while I ran I got more smiles, “hellos” and waves than any run I can remember in recent history.  We are on our own.  I see this as neither a “bad” thing or a “good” thing, but an opportunity to transcend both.  In repeatedly accessing our highest possible thoughts and bringing the result of that outward, we bring into the world what may seem like a tiny change for the better, but one that may well change another persons life. As I struggled years ago to shed yet another layer in early recovery and felt like I belonged in a padded room, my old friend Jean told me “chaos precedes creation.” I have never forgotten that. At least not for very long.

Things often get worse before they get better. We are in a time of tremendous transition, but when you think about it, there have always been wars. There has always been a menacing disease that we eventually find a cure for.  And then it mutates and we’re off to the races again or an entirely new one surfaces.  There has always been gross inequality in wealth and people striving for it.  There has always been starvation.   It’s all part of our common dream.  Our collective ego is insane and to try to explain it engenders more insanity.  I’d rather let go of my diamond ring.  Loosening attachment to it allows more space for Spirit to flow through.  Ironically, I may find that the ring is still there.  Those of you who remember the harmonic convergence may see this as a comparable time.  A time of great change. Pray, meditate, spend time in nature, however you get there.  Please go there often.  Its up to each one of us.  We are on our own.  And we can do this.

 

Peace

 

World War C

“No one could ever get into this sacred place that only I’m allowed in.” – – Australian Olympic Gold Medalist Cathy Freeman.

 

It began rather innocuously at my workplace.  I had been out of the office (my peers and I schedule appointments for a health care organization) and came back one day to a Skype chain with people cracking wise about Covid-19, and a single person telling everyone to knock it off, this is serious.  More jokes, and then once again “you shouldn’t be joking around about this.” My observation has been that one of this person’s favorite sports is controlling others.  And so I have avoided said person as best I can.  The Skype chain happened early last week, long before we began fielding calls from panicked patients who were sure they had Covid.  My initial reaction to this person’s repeated admonishments was rather ho-hum.  And to my credit I did resist the voice in my head that told me to go to her desk and start singing “My Corona.”  The efforts at control by others have not snowballed impossibly, but they have increased.  After all, fear is a pretty normal response to what’s going on in the world today. I was pleased to note that my reflex response was to go deeper inside.

Each day this week, I’d say that most of the calls I’ve taken from patients have been around Covid-19. There are of course procedures in place to deal with anyone who thinks they need to be tested, whether it be having the person talk to a triage nurse or to refer the person to various websites to do an online screening.  As I’ve said to several times as I transferred callers to our overworked nursing staff, “I’ve tried to refer them to the website but they just don’t hear me.”  So part of my job has become to honor the fears of patients, real or imagined.  Many of my callers symptoms have absolutely nothing to do with Covid, but they will not be swayed.  It has been a major exercise in neutrality for me.  Yes, I recognize how serious this has all gotten, and I still prefer to let it be.

Right now it seems to me that the focus of my work ought to be maintaining a calm voice in the storm.  It has not been difficult.  My brother died last summer.  Both of my parents died in the nineties.  My sister and her husband both died in the two thousands courtesy of alcoholism.  The closest friend I’ve ever had died when he was twenty-four and I was twenty-six.  Seven people who used to come to my AA group at West End died by overdose and/or suicide in 1991. I could go on and on.  Nobody gets out alive.  I am sixty-three years old and supposedly in a pretty high risk group for Covid.   Social distancing?  I had that down pat before it was a “thing.”  Sometimes I genuinely isolate and other times I just enjoy my own company.  Running, reading and meditation don’t interest me as group activities. Using these or Reiki, or practicing the Medicine Buddha systems as solitary activities allow me to bring some peace into my world.  I am not arrogant enough to say that the peace is mine.  I just know where to find it.

I’ve felt largely unaffected by Mr. Covid other than observing the world fall apart.  Maybe I’m whistling in the dark.  I genuinely am looking forward to the other side. But is there a way to do this without pain?  If I get a hangnail it strikes me as cause to call 9-1-1. Other than that, I’ll joke about anything I care to, thank you very much.  Today I felt impact in the form of my young boss making an  effort to move me toward working at home.  I live in an efficiency unit and last year when I inquired about moving home, I was told that my apartment was too small.  I can move into a larger unit but my lease is nowhere near done so it will cost me five hundred dollars to break it.  So much for working at home.

I actually heaved a sigh of relief when the work from home plan crumbled.  I don’t mind change as long as I don’t have to be inconvenienced.  So what happens today?  My landlord called me and said they would waive the five hundred buck fee.  A few hours later my boss told me that they would allow me to work from my efficiency apartment.  Sometimes the chaos that precedes creation is just a pain in the ass.  My current dilemma is that I don’t have a desk that would support two large computer monitors and I don’t have spare cash to be tossing around for a new one.  (Hey, help if you can point me to one or somebody who wants to unload one.) So this is the consequence of Covid-19 for me so far.  My great nephew has a soon to be one year old daughter who was born prematurely and has a compromised immune system.  She may indeed be at risk. It is said that “only the elderly and ill” are in jeopardy.  Ignacio’s beautiful comeback to that was “your only thing is my ‘everything.”

I reserve the right to refuse someone entry into my sacred space because they want me to be afraid with them.  That is not compassion.  I may not share your fear with you, but I may choose to allow love to flow through me, and it is up you to accept it or not.  I will not argue your choice.  Something I’ve heard ringing in my mind repeatedly has been “it is time to shine.” Now is an opportunity to practice being loving.  As Richard Bach said in “Illusions,” “. . .  laughing on the way to your execution is not generally understood, and they’ll call you crazy.”  My worst case scenario in the coming days is grieving the loss of some laziness.  I’m not looking forward to a new computer set-up and the miracle of finding a desk. The rest I have no control over, other than singing “Happy Birthday” as I wash my hands  (maybe I’ll try “The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald.”) and other precautions.  And so it goes.  If nothing else, I hope reading this made you smile.  And now back my shine . . .

Peace